Much of the ASU Memorial Union in Tempe is open just two months after fire nearly destroyed the busiest building on campus. But not everything is back.
Hoodlums, the union’s music store for nearly 10 years, will not return. Its owners, Steve Wiley and Kristian Luce, are looking for a new location near Arizona State University to start over.
Classes resume Monday, and university officials hope the union’s refurbished basement and first floor again provide students and employees the food options and campus lifestyle they are accustomed to.
On Nov. 1, a fire spread from a storage closet across the union’s second and third floors and poured smoke into almost every room.
“Smoke filled every square inch of our place and covered everything,” Wiley said. “We got pounded, for sure.”
Hoodlums was in the basement, safe from the flames, but not from the soot that doused every CD in their store.
“We lost all the inventory in the fire,” Luce said. That included a collection of used CDs they’d built during their nine-year run in the union.
Before Hoodlums, Zia Records ran a store at ASU. Wiley was general manager of the local chain and oversaw the campus store until Zia’s founder, Brad Singer, died in 1998. Zia then pulled out of ASU, and Wiley left the chain.
Wiley said he remembers calling the Memorial Union official he used to work with to apologize for what happened. The official asked if Wiley had ever considered opening his own music store. Just a week before the fall semester began in 1998, Wiley and Luce, who’d also worked for Zia, opened Hoodlums in 500 square feet at the union. They put their own CD collections on sale.
After three years, Hoodlums built a large customer base among students and, particularly, staff and faculty. “People-wise, everyone at ASU has been great,” Luce said.
In 2001, Hoodlums moved into a 1,200-square-foot space, where it operated until the fire.
The store flourished there, but the spot proved vulnerable in the more than 50-year-old building.
In January 2006, a plumbing problem filled Hoodlums with 2 inches of water, which destroyed the electronics and world music sections. Luce and Wiley closed the store for two weeks to fix the damages.
But the challenge this time is far more daunting.
Two floors of the union — the second and third floors, where the fire did the most damage — remain closed.
In total, ASU is spending $40 million to refurbish the union.
The basement and first floor have new sprinkler and fire alarm systems installed, but those are still being constructed throughout the rest of the union, said Jim Gibbs, ASU’s fire marshal.
That will keep the conference rooms and student government offices shuttered until May, reducing the union’s foot traffic dramatically, which makes the situation even more difficult for retailers.
“Let’s face it, there are a lot of unknowns,” Wiley said.
All stores except Hoodlums and Budget Dry Cleaners will open for business Monday, said Leah Hardesty, an ASU spokeswoman.
After announcing the store’s closing on its listserv, the Hoodlums owners said they have received an outpouring of support from ASU alumni living across the country. They hope their customers will follow them through their Web site, www.hoodlumsmusic.com, wherever Hoodlums ends up.
“Obviously, the way everything ended so abruptly,” Wiley said, “it’s difficult.”