For customers of Ballard's Sonic Boom, Mike Pitts is a hero. The 40-year-old co-owner of Windermere West Sound Inc. realtors bought the record store on July 11 from its original proprietors Jason Hughes and Nabil Ayers. In this age of fragile music retail, anything that maintains the survival of a brick-and-mortar establishment is a blessing. Pitts says he has no music-retail experience, but describes himself as a lifelong record junkie/collector and loyal Sonic Boom customer since it opened in 1997.
"I don't have any plans currently," Pitts said in a phone interview when asked if he's going to make any changes in how Sonic Boom is run. "I'm getting acclimated here. I'm getting in the groove with the employees. Actually, the first thing I'll do is ask the employees what kind of changes they'd like to see. They're an A-list team here and they know better than I what can change for the better." The shop currently has eight employees, besides Pitts. "Sonic Boom is such a well-oiled machine. You’ve gotta know your business to work here. They’re an impressive group of people."
For the last eight years, Pitts has co-owned Windermere with his brother-in-law in Kitsap County, but he was very ready for a change. He recounts, "My wife saw the article about Sonic Boom being for sale and she called me at work and said, 'You've gotta do this. You've gotta figure this out.' And I'm glad she did. [laughs] It's been pretty exciting to make this happen. I had a great time doing [real estate], but it was time to add a little passion to the mix. "
Pitts denies having any trepidation about buying a record store in this unfriendly climate for music retail. "Owning a real-estate office after what happened in the last 10 years, it's understandable that anything that you go into could go either way," he says. "But [Sonic Boom] is incredibly strong. I was really impressed to work with Jason and have him show me what he’s done here. There’s an awesome foundation."