By Eric Kiska
Windows painted with murals of Eminem, Kiss, Bob Seger, Motown icons and The Beatles welcome customers from all over the country to the Eastpointe record shop, Melodies and Memories.
Owner Dan Zieja buys and sells LP’s, CD’s, DVD’s, and collector’s items at one of the last record shops around metro Detroit. It’s also one of the only places in the area that continues to sell modern LP’s.
“People like the place for the atmosphere,’’ he says. “It has been successful because of the diverse range of items sold here.”
He is very modest about his success, even though public figures such as Eminem, Kanye West, Aretha Franklin and Martha Reeves have visited the place. The late, famous Detroit DJ/Producer “J Dilla” spent most of his teen years at the record shop listening to anything he could get his hands on.
“Eminem has probably dropped the most dollar signs in here,” Zieja says with a laugh.
To call this place “just a record shop” would be doing it an injustice. It boasts a collection of over 3,000 retro lunchboxes; board games from the 1960’s; a life-sized replica of the RCA Dog; action figures and dolls that range from Rosa Parks to Godzilla; a tambourine signed by Bob Dylan; and vintage posters from Detroit concerts.
“I’m trying to do my part to keep the stuff that’s from Detroit, in Detroit,” he says.
Zieja, a Hamtramck native, started the original business in April 1988 on 12 mile and Schoenner near Macomb Community College. The place was too small for his growing collection of albums and vintage items, and in April 1994 he moved to the current location between 9 mile and 10 mile on Gratiot.
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As a teenager, Zieja was the biggest newspaper carrier for the Free Press throughout Hamtramck. Eventually he was promoted to the mailroom but decided to leave during the 1995 strike. By then he opened his own store where Detroiters could rejoice over melodies and memories.
When driving down Gratiot in Detroit and Eastpointe, witnessing the urban blight, it’s clear that Zieja has done something special here. And with many record shops closing around the area, he has found a way to keep his record shop successful.
“I like surrounding myself with things that keep me young; it’s a fountain of youth. It keeps you happy when the world is beating you down,” Zieja remarks, looking around the store at the melodies and memories he’s collected over the years.
Melodies and Memories is at 23013 Gratiot, Eastpointe MI 48021. (586) 774 8480