When Moses, a longtime “Car Stylist/ Designer” left his job with Ford to open a vintage audio store, he had Ann Arbor on his mind. “We wanted a place that was convenient not only to Detroit but also Ann Arbor,” he said. “We get a lot of customers not only from the university but also from in and around Ann Arbor.”
He even found one of his talented audio techs, Jeff Hall, from Ann Arbor.
Moses landed in West Bloomfield, a short Bob Seger song from where I-275, I-696 and I-96 all converge. He found the right spot and began to spin his business to great success.
Their smiles grow with each step they take – they are walking forward in the literal sense, but their mind, heart and soul are traveling back in time to a familiar and warm place. This is truly special. Customers walking into Ecotopia in West Bloomfield are either seeing a familiar “friend” or hearing a familiar “voice” or feeling a “connection” they haven’t made in years – or even decades.
Ecotopia is music heaven, right here on earth.
Moses, the passionate, friendly and extremely knowledgeable owner of Ecotopia, gets to see that look multiple times a day. Recently, an older gentlemen walked into the store and inquired about a tape deck.
“See, tape decks are in demand. Vinyl has seen a resurgence for years but now even cassettes are coming back. It’s very exciting,” Moses says before he walks over and introduces himself to the customer.
A fact box describing Ecotopia might read something like this: A vintage audio store specializing in hi-fi, stereo, analogue sound, audio, video, electronics ranging from everything from turntables to receivers to amps to pre-amps to reel-to-reel to speakers and of course tape decks which all provide high-quality, classic electronics that is music to anyone’s ears.
While the fact box is accurate it’s only part of the story of Ecotopia – think out of the box. And that brings us back to Moses and his new customer, or friend as he is destined to become.
“What are you looking for and what price range are you comfortable with,” Moses asks the man who appears a little overwhelmed looking over the stacks and stacks of tape decks. He’s looking to spend around $100 to $150 and that information helps Moses zoom in on which models he can choose from and which ones will give him the sound he is looking for while staying in his budget.
Moses points out a few brands, talks over specs with the gentlemen and what the price would be on each.
“How do I know which one sounds better,” the man asks.
“Because we are going to listen to them all,” Moses responds.
You see, Moses doesn’t believe this man is just buying a tape deck. And the same with the gentlemen who comes in later looking to add a few killer speakers to his system. Moses stands by each piece of vintage stereo equipment in his shop because he believes music and the way people listen to music creates magic, memories and a lasting feeling.
And before he sells you a turntable or receiver or a speaker, you will get to hear it and compare it, and before you walk out of the store, fall in love with it.
“People want to place that stereo in their home, that is something special,” he says. “It’s something that people care about and creates a conversation. It’s not just a black box. Ecotopia is a place that offers that hard-to-find stereo or component that has been reconditioned to become something people care about. It’s something that people not only will keep for the rest of their lives, but pass down to their kids.”
Moses’ background is in automotive design. He was a “Car Stylist/ Designer” and worked all over the world in his 20 plus years with Ford Motor Co. In 2010, he decided to open his stereo business because he connected to the feeling music brought people and also because he saw a need in the marketplace.
“I have a lot of passions, whether it’s cars or audio or photography,” he says. “I love creating things and doing things that people have a passion for and react to. The items we create or sell are things people really care about. I don’t deal with what I call disposable products that people use and throw away.
“What we offer here at Ecotopia has long-term intrinsic value, they are things people are passionate for and want to keep for the rest of their lives.”
The store is packed with every kind and brand of vintage stereo equipment, receivers stacked from the floor to the ceiling. Turntables everywhere you look surrounded by tape decks and pre-amps and speakers. While it may not look like it at first glance, everything is completely organized including full descriptions of the work that was done on every piece of equipment.
And Moses has the experience and knowledge to help you find the exact component you are looking for to either finish or start your stereo system.
He saw a need for people wanting not only to reconnect with a sound they grew up with but even for the younger generation who have never experienced music in that form and fashion. He knew once they experienced it, they would want it forever.
“I wanted to create a place that offered the great two-channel sound that most people grew up with like Pioneer, Marantz, McIntosh, Sansui and other brands that delivered that powerful, dynamic and warm sound that resonates with people,” he says. “It was a sound you not only heard but could feel. And when we first started we couldn’t keep up. As soon as we brought something in, fixed it and made it like new, someone would buy it.”
Moses says his company’s spin is that they not only sell vintage stereo equipment, but they rebuild it first. While technically the turntable or receiver or speaker is used, it’s more like “brand-new used.”
“We restore it, take it apart and make sure all the electronics are not only working but up to original spec,” he says. “We clean it inside and out so it looks like and sounds like it did when it first went on the shelf all those years ago. We have a great team here who used to work on stereos back in the 70s and 80s and they have special gifts, skills and a love when it comes to working on these. And they are as passionate as I am and take great pride in their work.”
Moses says that in many instances that special stereo system is bringing families together.
“We all know that vinyl has made a tremendous comeback but now kids are really getting into vinyl too and they want to play their records on their parent’s stereo because it sounds so amazing,” he says. “So families are coming together to experience the music.
“Michigan is Motown and I wanted to find something I could do that people had a love for, like cars and audio. People grow up with music and become attached to it and have a love for it.”
Mosses certainly has found his true love and is eager to share it with other music enthusiasts. He never gets tired of seeing those smiles from like-minded souls when they first walk into his store. And that’s when the “conversation” begins.
JUST THE FACTS
What: Ecotopia – Vintage audio store specializing in hi-fi, stereo, audio, video, electronics, cameras and audio candy. Includes a team of service technicians available to repair vintage equipment, plus a full store of refurbished stereo equipment. Brands include vintage and classic Marantz, Pioneer, Sansui, Fisher, Kenwood, Technics, Carver, McIntosh, NAD, ADCOM and many more.
What’s in a name: Ecotopia is a hybrid of “eco” (for ecology and economy) and “topia” (as in utopia or paradise).
Where: 6119 Haggerty, West Bloomfield
Telephone: (248) 859-5211
Tuesday: 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Wednesday: 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Thursday: 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Friday: 1 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: 12:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.