"Well, I fell in love," he said. "That's what happened."
But the real story is a tad more complicated. Golembiewski, who moved to Phoenix circa 1994 to study at Universal Technical Institute, admits he was "drunk and belligerent for a long time," hopping between jobs (auto mechanic, record store clerk, contractor, etc.). Until, in 2012, he met his future wife, Monika Golembiewski.
"She never told me to do anything, "Josh Golembiewski said. "I just wanted to stop [drinking]. Once I stopped, it was nice."
Monika Golembiewski had a slightly different life path, and spent years working in radio and television. But they had a shared passion for music: Josh has played in local bands, including the long-running Dephinger; Monika was a longtime promoter in Prescott.
"He was at work from 6 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m." she said of his career in refrigeration. "He'd come home and go right to sleep. We didn't really have a life, but we had money."
Then, COVID-19 happened, and the couple, but especially Josh, were faced with big career decisions.
"I was doing low-temp air conditioning at Pennington Gardens in Chandler," Josh Golembiewski said. "Like, 13 people died over a weekend. I was there the next day, in a room with a lady with COVID. So on the way home, [Monika] calls me and says, 'I got you a new job at the record store.'"
"We both got a job selling beer at the Arizona State Fair," Josh Golembiewski said. "We saved all of our money; 12 hours a day, five days a week." Monika Golembiewski noted that they even made a game of who could raise the most. (Josh won by a mere $5 one day, but Monika said it's only because she made mixed drinks over his pouring beers.)
It's here in their story that we pause to discuss their dynamic. Monika says she's the "tightly wound one," while Josh describes himself as more laissez-faire: "I tried to be a f***up for 25 years. As hard as I could. And here I am today."
If it sounds a little Odd Couple-esque, that's because they are.
"I think sometimes it drives me nuts," Monika Golembiewski said of her husband's breezier approach to life. "But he's the most patient and tolerant person I've ever met. So that definitely works."
Their relationship is also best represented in how they landed on the store's name.
"He decided to call it Candy & Records based on some phrase he kept saying back in the day," Monika Golembiewski said. "Like, 'I'm going to spend my allowance on candy and records.' Nobody gets it. Nobody."
For his part, Josh Golembiewski responded with a smile and by holding Monika's hand. It’s ultimately all proof that their relationship has made them effective business partners.
"We definitely have our own things," Monika Golembiewski said. "He buys the records, he researches them, he cleans them, and he fixes them. I place the orders, I do the transaction privilege tax things, and file the quarterly reports. And I do the social media."
But, as Monika Golembiewski added, their back and forth ultimately keeps them focused.
"I need him to tell me to sit down every once in a while and just take a breath," she said. "And sometimes he needs me to crack the whip."
Given the significance of their relationship, it's not entirely about selling the most records. For one, Monika Golembiewski said that they're both "Gen X, so we grew up with record stores and want to share that experience." They mentioned a story of five tuxedo-wearing youths coming from a nearby quinceañera to watch an all-woman punk band.
"There was steam coming out of their ears," Josh Golembiewski added.
As such, hooking the youth is a big part of the shop's larger aims.
"If you can't tell from the bright colors here, we wanted to be accessible to young people, because [records] are for men over 50," Josh Golembiewski said. "I watched kids come into [stores] and feel incredibly intimidated, and not buy [anything] and certainly not get the experience they should have."
Added Monika Golembiewski, "I remember that feeling as a kid, discovering punk. And I thought, ‘These are my people.’ Like, this is what I've been looking for. I fit in."
It's not entirely an age thing; it’s about quality, genre-spanning records for everyone.
"I've got the cleanest records — that's my hook," Josh Golembiewski said. "I'd rather have less records that are good than, like, 500 records. We got our $1 records down to four or five crates. I'm not trying to have a bunch of dirty, old records."
That sense of accessibility is important, and they make decisions that feel appropriate for the shop.
"I've heard about some [record shop] manager that arbitrarily jacks up the prices on a few records [because] he thinks he can get it," Josh Golembiewski said. "This [neighborhood] is Sunnyslope. I could put a $700 record on the wall, and people would say, 'That place has the $700 record; there's nothing there that I can afford.' You're going to scare people away."
That kind of decision-making also exemplifies the couple's shared commitment to Sunnyslope, where Josh has spent much of his adult life.
"I would drive to Phoenix from Prescott all the time," Monika Golembiewski said. "I'd tell my friends back in Prescott, 'There's this little section of Phoenix that it just feels like a small town. There's a Walgreens that still has the old sign.'"
And everything in their experience has only further perpetuated those connections.
"The neighbors have all been really great," Monika Golembiewski said. "They love it when we have a show because they get more business. Everybody's been great about wanting us here. Sunnyslope has a charm here; I don't want to leave."
They're even trying to help out other shops. As they see it, a shared interest in vinyl is good for everyone.
"If we don't have that record, then The Record Room might," Monika Golembiewski said. "We always want to drive traffic [around]."
Added Josh Golembiewski, "This isn't record wars, man. It's supposed to make people happy."
While the shop's still relatively young, the Golembiewskis want to keep things moving forward. That means hosting more shows, adding to their inventory, and enhancing the space to accommodate accordingly. For Monika Golembiewski, it's about "giving people an experience. And we like to educate them, too." Her husband and partner readily agrees, but he's got a more philosophical bent about why Candy & Records is already a big success.
"If I'm here every day, cleaning records, then the universe or God or whatever will pay me dividends," Josh Golembiewski said. "But this whole other side of it — having responsibility and growing up and everything I avoided my whole life? Who knew that was fun?"
Candy & Records is located at 9402 North Central Avenue, Suite 8A. Check out its Facebook page for more information.