Ron and Angie Roloff, owners of Madison, Wis.-based record store Strictly Discs, have sold the business after 35 years.
Stepping in as the store’s new president/owner is Rick Stoner, who takes over following an 18-year marketing agency career. The Roloffs will continue in their day-to-day roles through the end of 2023 before assuming an advisory relationship with Strictly Discs starting next year as they transition into retirement.
“Angie and I are grateful to our staff and customers, who we’ve had the privilege to work with for 35 years,” said Ron in a statement.
Stoner has served in several vp-level leadership, business development and digital and event marketing roles at prominent consumer brands. He’s a 2006 University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate and a board member at Communications Arts Partners (CAPs), an alumni organization that supports the university’s communications arts department.
“I’ve been a Strictly Discs customer since I was a student here in Madison,” said Stoner in a statement. “I view the store as everything right about the culture of the Madison community and look forward to maintaining that presence. Entrepreneurship has long been a destination for me and my family. Owning Strictly Discs is a dream come true. I can’t wait to meet our dedicated and loyal customers and get to work with our team to grow the business.”
The acquisition includes nearly half a million records, carefully curated over close to four decades. The business will maintain an e-commerce presence, which Stoner views as a key area for growth initiatives such as a subscription-based record club as well as pop-up, event-based record stores.
In June 2024, Strictly Discs is slated to open a second retail location in nearby Cambridge, Wis. in a space that hosts the majority of the store’s inventory.
Several Strictly Discs employees will remain with the business following the transition. They include 14-year employee Evan Woodward, who leads the buying team and works the front counter, as well as assistant manager Mark Chaney. Joining the team are Dru Korab, a record collector, DJ, media production professional and Stoner’s college classmate who will step into a part-time operations role in addition to his minority investment in the business. Also holding a minority investment is Stoner’s friend Kyle Nakatsuji, founder/CEO of Clearcover, principal at American Family Ventures and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School.
Opened in 1988, Strictly Discs was a subject of Billboard’s “In a Pandemic” series from 2020-2021. During this time, Angie discussed the challenges she and Ron faced and the creative solutions they employed at the store during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Angie tells Billboard that an evaluation of Strictly Discs’ worth, performed during the pandemic, “planted the seed” that ultimately led her and Ron to sell the business. After listing it in early May, they were approached by Stoner in June; a letter of intent was signed in July. The deal finally closed on Oct. 31.
Starting next year, Ron will continue on with the store in an outside buying capacity, while Angie will serve as the “boots on the ground” for the Milwaukee-based Stoner when he’s not in Madison, she says. “We’re invested in his success because we’ve lent him money as part of this process,” Angie continues. “So we’re definitely not leaving and we’ll be available to him really in any capacity that he needs us for.”
Angie says Stoner brought a good mixture of knowing what made the business work while proposing solid ideas about where it could grow: “He already understood that the things that have made Strictly Discs successful are the people and the product and certainly the experience. I think he respects all of that, and he knows that there are areas that he wants to grow the business but he doesn’t want to fundamentally change what we’ve already done.”
At the heart of Strictly Discs’ more than three-decade run is a love story: Angie and Ron met at Strictly Discs in 1994, when Angie was a customer and Ron was working the front counter. In the years since, says Angie, the store has become their baby.
“We don’t have kids and so it’s kind of like Strictly Discs takes that place,” Angie says, adding that with both she and Ron being “super high-strung type A personalities,” even while on vacation, they would end up talking about the store. “That’s the part of it that I’m looking forward to having go away,” she says.