About a year and a half ago, John and Jennie Jankow had a special opportunity. Tucked a block and a half off the main district in Downtown Loveland, Downtown Sound was for sale. The couple knew it was the perfect place for their family.
“I was ecstatic because it's been his dream since … we met when we were 19 years old. And it's been his dream since then and since before me, to own a record store,” Jennie Jankow said. “And we've talked about it all these years, never, ever, ever dreaming it could ever happen for us.”
But it did, and now the Jankows have fully embraced the family-owned-and-operated format: Their two sons and one daughter work with the couple there as well.
“We've been able to provide them with a really good job and really great job experience and teach them a lot of things about working and being responsible and being dedicated to something as a group and as a team,” she said.
The history of Downtown Sound goes back to 2012 when it first opened its doors. The business buys and sells vinyl records, guitars, hi-fi stereo gear, and amplifiers, and offers repair services. They also offer music-related artwork by local artists — including custom stickers, small paintings, and posters. While that is a wide array of goods and services, John Jankow still works a full-time job in addition to his duties at the store.
“It's fun, and we meet a lot of cool people and, you know, get to deal with records all the time. We're having a really good time,” he said.
After making it through their first year as owners of Downtown Sound, this May, the business’s financial situation became precarious. On July 27, John posted an appeal for support on Facebook, saying he and his family were in a pickle.
John Jankow said they hit a brick wall “and ended up getting really close to not being able to pay things.
“We're not wealthy people. We don't have a bunch of extra cash sitting in an account to go, ‘Oh, let's just inject this into the business and we'll be fine.’ … We had a week to go before rent was due, and we were so far away from it, and I just thought, ‘I don't know, I don't know what we're gonna do.’”
That first post was shared 47 times and generated many more new posts from the community to rally support for this small business.
Jennie Jankow said she didn't know that he was going to make the post.
“I was really surprised that he made that because he's a really private person, but we have been really struggling and I understood, I really understood him doing that,” Jennie Jankow said.
Son Ben Jankow, who works full-time in the store, didn't know his father was posting the appeal either, but says it was justified.
“I guess I kind of just thought of it as a form of advertisement, you know, just among friends,” Ben Jankow said. “None of us ever expected it to get shared or anything like that, but it sure did, which is great, which is awesome.”
That post worked — they made the rent that month. Along with it came a big surprise.
“We had people come in, and we did probably three times what we had been doing on a Saturday,” John Jankow said. “And it was really great. It was like all these friends I hadn't seen in a long time came in and people would come in and say, ‘Hey, so and so had posted to come on by,’ so I was like, ‘Please tell them thank you.”
“We truly just hoped it would bring a few more people in, really. And to see how giving our friends and family and extended customer base is really made our hearts warm and made us remember why we wanted to do this in the first place,” Jennie Jankow said.
Customer Jenna Fischer said the store is part of the fabric of Loveland.
“I think it really helps nourish the community and build community.” she said. “We know some people that have started their own small businesses. We've tried as well. And so we know how important it is to support those local businesses.”
Her husband, Grant Fischer, said the store is a bridge between older and younger generations.
“It's almost like a popular thing to do, to start your record collection, get into that. My parents were into this, Jenna's family is into it,” Grant Fischer said. “You look around the store today and you see all sorts of people from different generations and ages coming together, to share in music.”
The generations of Jankows are living proof of that.
“I like being here. A lot of the decorations around are from my childhood and from, you know, around our house, and there's just a lot of great people we meet here and have conversations with,” said 14-year-old Nicholas Jankow. “It's great just working and learning alongside my brother, my dad, my sister, my mom. Everybody is great.”
Ben Jankow says while the work the family does at the store is important to their family unit, he also sees importance to their mission. Downtown Sound is in a better spot right now. The Jankows just hope they can continue to do what they do best: spin records and build community.
“It's history preservation. And by coming here and contributing to our store, as well as the other amazing record stores in the area, you're contributing to keeping history alive and also keeping artistry alive — communicating with other people about music, meeting other people — because of music.”
You want to know what is really going on these days, especially in Colorado. We can help you keep up. The Lookout is a free, daily email newsletter with news and happenings from all over Colorado. Sign up here and we will see you in the morning!