Third Man opened Friday with long lines, loud bands

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Fans of Jack White, Third Man Records and the vinyl record industry in general showed their allegiance Friday by braving the sideways rain and chilly temperatures for the chance to spend money at the new Third Man Records Cass Corridor store.

A slow-moving line of hundreds still wrapped around the building Friday afternoon, hours after the doors opened.

Only 300 music-lovers were let in at one time to the store at 441 Canfield, next to Shinola’s flagship store. Security staff was present, but not overbearing; customers appeared more than willing to wait their turn to get in, even if it meant standing in line for hours.

Joanne Erickson, of Windsor, said Jack White is the reason she had been standing in line for more than two hours, but she was also excited for reissues from Marvin Gaye and the Supremes.

Jack White previews Third Man store at opening party

“We got here at 11 thinking we’d walk right in, but no,” said Erickson, who was also in Detroit over the summer to see White perform at the Fox Theatre, the Masonic Temple and throw out the first pitch at the Detroit Tigers game. “It was a three-day event for me.”

Detroit-born musician White, a Cass Tech graduate, is instrumental in the garage rock revival of 2000 because of the success of his band the White Stripes, and with his label Third Man Records he’s created a vinyl-collector’s dream. The label’s Vault program offers limited and rare wax offerings to those who pay for a membership.

The label, which was founded in Detroit in 2001, opened its first and only other brick and mortar location in Nashville (where White lives) in 2009. The Detroit store’s location in the Cass Corridor is significant: in 1997 the White Stripes played their first show at the now-closed Gold Dollar rock club just around the corner on Cass.

“We want to make sure everyone gets in,” Third Man Records’ Ben Swank said Friday afternoon, prompting the shop to consider staying open past its scheduled 7 p.m. closing. “We’ve got five or six points of sale, and we’re using a ticket system so people who have done their shopping and want to come back and see the bands don’t have to wait in line again.”

The big shopping day saw early performances by Nashville’s Margo Price and fiddle player Lillie Mae Rische, who is a member of White’s touring band. Very loud Detroit punk band Timmy’s Organism also played. The group just finished a monthlong tour in support of its Third Man release “Heartless Heathen.”

“This is very organized,” said music fan Carl Hoff, who was hanging out at the record store Friday to catch the live performances. “The bands sound good, the sound quality is better than some of the other (venues) around here.”

On Friday, fans were free to roam the 4,000-square-foot store and browse through the vinyl records, T-shirts and other Third Man merchandise. Many people in attendance were Detroit-based musicians, including Ill Itches guitar player Joshua Woodcock, who was shopping with the founder of Jett Plastic Recordings, 17-year-old Jarrett Koral.

Koral says the 10,000-square-foot vinyl record processing plant that will eventually be installed at the Cass Corridor spot will make things easier for his own label. Because Third Man will be pressing its vinyl there, it will free up space at other plants like Nashville’s United Record Pressing.

“The plants that I use (to press records) Third Man uses, but now that they’re opening their own thing, I can get my stuff done faster,” said Koral, who has released vinyl by Detroit-based bands from many eras, from Rocket 455 to Radio Burns. “United Record Pressing has one press that continuously runs Third Man Records products, so now that press is freed up.

“So now I’ll be able to make a record in two months instead of five.”

Musician Ryan Allen, of Ferndale, thought the details in the mostly black and yellow record store were “outstanding.”

“It’s an immaculate conception and meticulously put together,” says Allen, who was shopping with his family and his Destroy This Place bandmate Sean Sommer. “Every aspect is incredibly ... it’s very branded, if you will. The presentation is so confident.”

With hundreds of vinyl-lovers packed in the store and a literal line out the door, White has every reason to be confident in his hometown enterprise.