Local Current Blog

Electric Fetus flooding sensors triggered for the first time in 25 years – but Garage Sale is still on

The Electric Fetus in June 2017. (Jackie Renzetti/MPR)

The Electric Fetus has experienced some inconveniences in the past few months due to construction on their block. However, during Monday evening’s thunderstorms, the Minneapolis record store received an unexpected setback: water pouring into the basement.

Road work has been in progress on 4th Street (where the store’s main entrance and parking lot entrances are) for over a year. The work is part of a larger construction project that the Minnesota Department of Transportation is undertaking along I-35.

At the beginning of September, new curbs were poured in front of the Electric Fetus. However, the sidewalks had not yet been installed. This left a six-inch gap between the building and the curb. When thunderstorms rolled in late on Monday night and early Tuesday morning, runoff water from the parking lot formed a small river that seeped through this gap into the basement of Electric Fetus.

Over 25 years ago, Electric Fetus co-founder Keith Covart installed water sensors in the basement as a precaution. Until Tuesday, the sensors had never gone off.

At 2:15 on Tuesday morning, Fetus manager Bob Fuchs received a call from the alarm company that the water sensors had gone off, and he headed to the store. Fuchs and Aaron Meyerring, who co-owns the Fetus with his wife Stephanie, got to the store around 3 a.m. By that time, an inch of water had covered about half of the basement.

Meyerring stayed at the Fetus until 8 or 9 a.m., running Shop-Vacs and dumping water out of the basement. “I bet we took 450 gallons of water out of there,” he said.

Meyerring says that the building is now sealed, with the sidewalks poured on Tuesday, but his team still needs to clean up the aftermath of the water damage. Despite the mayhem downstairs, retail was business as usual upstairs, and the Fetus remained open at normal hours all week.

Water entered four or five office spaces, as well as part of the warehouse which holds inventory such as shipments for the Duluth store, vinyl, and gift-store merchandise. 

“There was some vinyl that was damaged,” said Meyerring. “The majority of the vinyl is kept on the other side of the basement, so we were lucky on that aspect.” He says the water damage mainly affected gift-department inventory, as well as soaking the carpeted floors and furniture. 

More than damaging physical inventory, the flood set the Electric Fetus back by forcing employees to divert time from their everyday tasks. “It was kind of a scramble; everyone was moving stuff out of their offices or trying to relocate to different workstations so they could continue their everyday operations,” said Meyerring.

“This isn’t going to be a small job; this is a month or two of disruption,” Meyerring continued. Despite the setback, the Electric Fetus is preparing for their annual Garage Sale & Fall Festival this weekend. The event, which lasts Saturday through Sunday, includes food, live music, and markdowns on vinyl and gift department items.

“We’re still open to the public; we’re still operational. We’re still looking forward to the Garage Sale and having a great event there,” said Meyerring. “We’ll get through it like we’ve gotten through everything else in the last 50 years. Just another day at the Fetus.”