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Misfitz Audio - where it came from

Posted by Bryan Johnson on

I'm often asked how and why I started a stereo shop. My answer is pretty simple. For the love of music and the gear. I'll never forget my first exposure to what was at the time rather unique music. The Fresh Aire series by Mannheim Steamroller. My then future brother-in-law had a nice little system and often played it for me when I was over. He played a lot of music that wasn't necessarily main stream and I was fascinated by it. That was back in the 80's and it triggered what would become a life time hobby.

During the 80's and 90's we had some great stereo shops here in Grand Rapids. I loved visiting the different stores to see and hear the latest gear. I must have driven the sales guys nuts. Every trip was an adventure. I grabbed every brochure I could get my hands on concerning the gear I liked. I organized them and kept a regular library of them. I poured over the magazines and spent countless hours reading and dreaming. It took time but I gradually put together a system featuring pieces from various stores. DCM Timeframe 1000's powered by a Denon amp and pre-amp.  CD's were all the rage and I bought myself a Kenwood CD changer which also featured a single drawer. Nakamichi headphones and a Onkyo 3 head cassette deck finished it off. I was happier than a pig in slop.

Over the next 20 years I continued to collect music and gear. Home theater had become all the rage and people were throwing out lots of great old stuff. That was fine with me. I bought it cheap at yard sales, thrift stores, wherever I could find it. I just couldn't pass it up. Most of it still worked and sounded great. I had no idea what I would ever do with it all but I was a sucker for the big knobs, switches and shiny face plates.

Fast forward to 2011. It was Christmas time. Despite the holiday, I was miserable. I hated my job and felt stuck. Like most people, I went to work for the paycheck and little else.  I remember walking into a now closed stereo shop Christmas eve. The owner was there and he was just starting to close up. I asked him about some of the gear and he invited me to listen to a pair of speakers that he had just finished restoring. A pair of Wilson Watt Puppies. Corvette silver finish. I had never heard a pair so sure, why not? He put on a demo disc featuring a variety of artists and stepped back to let me enjoy.

I will never forget the impact the music had on me that night. I will also never forget his graciousness to let me sit and soak it in when I know he was trying to leave. I think I sat for 30 or 40 minutes absolutely transfixed. It's difficult to put into words what came over me. It was some of the best therapy I've ever experienced. I had come in feeling depressed, anxious, fed up and frustrated. Yet in that short time listening, the music had somehow reached inside, swept it all away and brought me some desperately needed peace. I didn't realize it at the time but it was a life changing experience.

In the coming year, I began sorting out what I wanted to do and changes I wanted to make. Life was too short to be so miserable spending my time in a place I didn't want to be. I thought of idea after idea for a different career or business. No matter what I looked into, nothing really inspired me and I kept coming back to music. How could I fit that in? I'm not a musician, can't sing but...I can play a mean stereo. So what can I do with all this gear I have?  I know I'm not the only who loves music. Hmm, there aren't any stereo shops around anymore. What if...

The rest obviously came together and in a short time a new dream and vision grew. It took a lot of very long days to pull it all together. I built the store with my family on a shoe string budget and it was a complete launch into the unknown. It took a year to refit the space working nights and weekends. I didn't have a background in audio, just what I had learned on my own. I had no clue who to ask for specific advice on this business and as you can imagine, there was precious little on the internet. Stereo store? Who does that anymore? A store with old, used stereo gear? LOL! Are you nuts?

So why do it? Obviously we all have to make a living but it's far more than that. Trust me, nobody is getting rich doing this. I do it because I know how important music is. I know the impact it has on our lives. It surrounds everything we do. It's part of us. Music is one of the greatest forms of expression we have and for those of us who aren't musicians, we need the gear to play it.

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