New coffee & vinyl shop opens in Village Plaza

Andy Frakes

Gitche Gumee Cafe & Records opened up in The Village Plaza between Third and Fourth Streets just over a month ago, on Aug. 29. The store owners, Donald Samulski and Nolan Hagen, have been building up an inventory of vinyl since they opened. One thing’s for sure: if you’re looking for Bob Dylan, they’ve got it.

Walking in the door, a patron is greeted with the smell of coffee and the sound of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding.” A coffee pot is kept hot throughout the day (coffee supplied by Dead River Coffee), and there are some loose-leaf teas offered as well. The Cookie Jar, an adjacent store in the plaza, also sells some small baked goods through Gitche Gumee. David Bowie played, spinning on a turntable behind the cash register, while people chatted and sorted through the stacks of records.

The coffee on offer is good stuff; Dead River Coffee, which no longer has a dedicated outlet on campus, is a local favorite for beans, grounds and brew. Their Baraga Street location is where they roast and grind all their own product to sell it to consumers as fresh as possible.

“We hope to get a food-and-beverage license soon,” Samulski said, “but we can only grow so fast in the beginning.”

Samulski also hopes to include local art to display and sell, including paintings, photo prints and small sculpture. There’s also a section of music devoted to local artists, including some bands that will be performing in-store this fall.

Samulski had a few names in mind for bigger shows he would like to organize in the next year; he threw out names like Devendra Banhart and Deer Tick, but added that the audiences for these shows most likely wouldn’t fit in his little record store.

“The lack of a venue for these shows is a problem, and we may want to address that ourselves down the road,” Samulski said, “but for now we’re looking at outdoor stuff, like out at Marquette Mountain, or in Lakeview Arena.”

Samulski and Hagen are also working with Music For All Kids, a charity which provides music lessons for underprivileged children. For more information on the charity, which offers lesson opportunities to kids aged 5-18, visit MFAKMQT.com.

Gitche Gumee’s hours of operation currently stand at 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with shortened hours of 12-5 p.m. on Sunday.

“We may not extend Sunday hours for awhile, at least until we get people really wanting to hang out in our store and study or work on homework,” Samulski said. He seized the moment to mention the free WiFi.

“When the weather gets crappy the dorm kids will be looking for an escape, I hope.”

While the LRC sometimes has extended hours and Jamrich has Starbucks, many students find themselves looking for a study-related getaway during hours when they can’t rely on campus buildings being open. The LRC closes at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and the Starbucks in Jamrich Hall is closed on Saturdays altogether; where can students go?

Gitche Gumee is one more option being added to the list.