In the Groove at The Listening Room

With their Return to Old Town Saginaw and a Legacy Spanning Four Decades, Tom & Marilyn Roddamer Bring a Fresh Focus to Those Seeking Quality & Affordable Audio & Hi Fi Home Theatre Systems

Posted In: Culture, Community Profiles,   From Issue 817   By: Robert E Martin

15th October, 2015     0

One of the welcome and vibrant additions to the Old Town Saginaw business district is the recent re-location of The Listening Room, which under the experienced and professional ownership team of Tom & Marilyn Roddamer, has been providing both audiophiles and hobbyists with top notch quality audio Hi Fi and Home Theatre systems for over four decades now.

Located at 404 Court Street, The Listening Room is geared to provide customers with both high-end and eminently affordable Hi Fi Audio & Video equipment for upgrading or building a high-performance home audio system with a broad spectrum of products ranging from turntables and receivers to speakers, CD Players, and surround systems. Plus, with their new location they have expanded into offering an ever evolving selection of rare vinyl records and Home Screen Projection systems. An added plus is the creative window displays they create to celebrate not only the joy of popular music, but also acknowledge many of the notable artists that have blossomed from the mid-Michigan region and created a major impact over the decades.

Tom first surfaced on the scene back in 1973 when he started at Playback, which was located at Fashion Square Mall; and then want on to form The Listening Room in 1983, which was also located on Court Street across from The Court Theatre.  In 1996 he moved the business to State Street and about a year ago decided to come full circle and make the move back to the Old Town area.

The fact that The Listening Room has survived for over four decades is a testimonial in itself, given the number of independent quality audio & visual retailers that have been edged out of the market by the Big Box stores such as Best Buy, along with the explosion of the Internet.

Indeed, when asked what they attribute their longevity to, Marilyn points to their ability to remain flexible. “When the change in the industry was pulling towards more custom and built in system along with home automation, we kind of went that way,” she explains. “But when the economic downturn happened back in 2007, we were able to cut back whereas many other stores had way too much going on and couldn’t accommodate the downturn in discretionary income.”

“We moved to State Street in the fall of ’96 after 13 years on Court Street and things were booming,” adds Tom. “We could demonstrate to clients what could be done in the home and received a lot of work from homebuilders; but when that economic hiccup came along, people weren’t building houses anymore. We had bought the building on State Street and put it up for sale, only discovered that not only were people not buying new houses, but they weren’t buying commercial property, either. So our whole plan revolved around finding someplace with less overhead.”

Insofar as Tom & Marilyn have always been in tune with their markets, the vision for their latest incarnation of The Listening Room is more in touch with the fundamental roots that brought them into business in the first place. “We started this business with a passion for the reproduction of music,” explains Tom, “by providing high performance music systems with tube-powered high fidelity. But as the industry evolved, we mirrored what was going on and started building in-home systems for clients that were into home automation. Now we look at those things as distractions because we got very far from what our initial plan was, which was focused upon music. When we decided to downsize we decided to re-focus on our pursuit of music and that our chief goal should be on providing quality music systems. We still do home theatre, but building solid sound systems for clients is the thing we concentrate upon.”

“We really enjoy the move back into Old Town,” adds Marilyn, “because we’ve always liked this area. It’s so much more conducive to people that enjoy music, plus we have many customers saying their favorite stores are all next to one another – a train store, a guitar shop, an antique shop – all the places that are supposedly becoming rarer with the advent of the internet.”

While The Listening Room still gets high-end audiophile clientele coming from all over the state of Michigan, especially as custom and independently owned stores in Detroit, Lansing, and Flint have dried up; there are two new waves of customers also finding their way into the shop. “We are seeing a lot of Baby Boomers that are now retiring coming into us and saying they still have all these vinyl records, but their amp isn’t working and their speakers are falling apart,” explains Marilyn. “So they want to get back into that hobby they so enjoyed in their youth.”

“The other side are the 18 to 35 year olds that see their parents’ vinyl collections and have developed a passion for it,” she continues. “They’ll come in and pull through the records looking for music by obscure 60s bands such as Love.  Last Christmas the mother of a teenager came in and paid $70 for a mint copy of a Pink Floyd album that we had in stock that was in mint condition, so we’re finding all of this both exciting and fun.”

If people are looking for a new stereo system or are eager to upgrade their current system, Tom & Marilyn both encourage customers to give them a call and explain what they are seeking. “We deal a lot with used as well as new products and we had a younger customer looking for a turntable, a receiver, and a couple of speakers,” notes Tom. “We happened to have a vintage receiver here for under $100 and a pair of nice speakers for $100, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a great system – just tell us what you’re looking for.”

“You can get incredible deals on used equipment for peanuts,” adds Marilyn. “especially older surround receivers. A lot of these are really high-powered because those customers want the latest products with HDMI switching and new sound innovations, and a lot of these 7-year old receivers don’t have it, so as an audio video receiver they are not worth much – maybe $100 tops. But if you take two of the channels and do 2-channel stereo, these systems have big beefy amps that work amazingly well.”

While they still do custom installs, another big plus factor about The Listening Room stems from their longevity. “We have file cabinets full of job folders accumulated from customers over the decades,” points out Tom. “So if people have something that breaks or is dated, we can better assist them with finding a solution that will work best for their ears and their budget.”

You won’t find a more enjoyable way to knock off a few hours than browsing through their vinyl record inventory, or checking out both their new & used audio & hi fi components that are constantly changing, so if you’ve yet to frequent their new digs, be sure to visit The Listening Room soon.

They have systems and knowledge that will definitely blow you away!

The Listening Room Hi Fi Shoppe & Home Theatre Systems is located at 404 Court Street in Old Town Saginaw. They are open Wednesday – Friday from 10 am – 5 pm and Saturday from 10 am – 3 pm. Sunday through Tuesday is by appointment. You can phone Tom & Marilyn at 989-401-7868 or check out the cool things they offer on their website at





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