Chicago area record stores past and present (with photos)

Discussion in 'Music, Movie and Hardware Store Guide' started by larry333, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. jamesc

    jamesc Formerly Known as Undertow

    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    I can't remember exactly where Rock'n Records was (and I think you're right on the spelling) but I know it was on the south side of Dundee in a strip mall. There was a hot dog place a couple of doors down where I'd grab lunch. Elmhurst Rd. sounds about right. I didn't work there very long because it was a long drive.

    I think that particular Record City was in Northbrook, maybe at the SW corner of Dundee and Milwaukee? I think there was more than one location for them. I know it was further east on Dundee than Rock'n Records was. Apparently, it was owned by Jim Staggs who was a DJ on WCFL: Jimmy Pearson Staggs: 1935 - 2007 Didn't know that until today!

    I kept a lot of old business cards from record stores and was hoping to find ones from those two stores but no luck. I did find one for Record Surplus, which I'm guessing was the California based record store you recall in Des Plaines. They were at 9800 N. Milwaukee Ave. About Record Surplus Vinyl Record Store in Los Angeles California
     
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  2. jamesc

    jamesc Formerly Known as Undertow

    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    I think there were two different Sound Warehouse chains with one being national and arriving in the Chicago area in the mid-late 80s. There was one in Schaumburg I used to go to.
     
  3. weaselriot

    weaselriot Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL


    Well, Dundee and Milwaukee would still be Wheeling, unless you mean Dundee and Waukegan, much further east and would certainly be Northbrook there. There is a big new strip mall at the SW corner of Dundee and Milwaukee in Wheeling, which replaced whatever may nave been there before. There is a huge Fresh Farms market and a giant liquor store, as well as Chase Bank branch.

    On the SE corner of the same intersection there is a nice older strip mall dating at least as far back as the 1980s (but not much further back because it looks pretty modern), called Riverside Plaza or something like that. I went there a lot in the 1980s because there was a really nice big camera shop with pro gear at the far NE end closest to the forest preserves. By 1988-1989 it had become a Chandler's (the legendary book and stationery store from Evanston) for a few years. Today it is an Indian restaurant. I suppose I could have missed a record store in that same strip mall because it was not your usual straight line strip.
     
  4. weaselriot

    weaselriot Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL

    Maybe. I was only ever aware of the Sound Warehouse chain that arrived late 1980s with four locations near me, and which eventually was bought out by Blockbuster, becoming Blockbuster Music for a few short years. Sound Warehouse became my suburban go-to from their arrival (along with the decline of Laury's/Rose on Milwaukee in Niles) up until the arrival of Best Buy, Circuit City and Tower Records in the mid-1990s. I have no idea if the Sound Warehouse locations in Downers Grove and Oak Lawn in 1981 was any relation.

    I think the big Sound Warehouse chain came in from out of state, but getting authority to operate here using the same name as someone already here would have been difficult. That one in Schaumburg was a frequent stop for me, along with Golf & Arlington Heights Rd, Golf and Milwaukee further east, and Dundee & Arlington Heights Rd in Buffalo Grove. They were all the new big chain, with the same Yellow letters on blue field logo on their signs. I was never aware of any others before those four arrived.
     
  5. weaselriot

    weaselriot Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL

    Yup. That's definitely the former Laury's/Rose location, though it was shrunken down by about a third in the later years as they faded with vinyl LP. The missing third was partitioned off to become some sort of mattress store during the mid to late 1980s, which was about the time they became Rose as well. There has been a big Korean or Asian supermarket there many years after Y2K, re-expanded to the previous Laurys size, but closed and vacant now.

    That was a killer store in the early to middle 1980s, though. That version could nearly have rivalled a suburban Tower Records like the ones that came ten years later. It was that good. Record Surplus may be correct as the successor, but I also remember something about California or West Coast being either part of the name or otherwise touted somehow. It was at a time after the breakup of the Soviet Union when they had a lot of Russian pressings of the likes of Procol Harum which caught my eye at first. I lost interest when they turned out to be the UK track list, however. What saddened me the most was the fact that it had been only about ten years since a larger Laury's at the same location was in full flower, with LPs still leading sales (though not for long after that). Enough to make a grown man cry.

    It's almost like a Twilight Zone episode, a man returns to his home town from work and nothing is there any more. None of the people or places he knew. Just about every store now is "that used to be....".
     
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  6. jamesc

    jamesc Formerly Known as Undertow

    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Yeah, I can relate to that! Most of the record stores I frequented in Chicago and Los Angeles are long gone now.

    Funny thing is I thought I knew most of the major record stores in the Chicago area but somehow missed out on Laury's. I'm sure I would have gone there a lot had I known about it. I only went to Record Surplus once and I don't remember finding much if anything. The LA store I used to go to was a lot better.
     
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  7. jamesc

    jamesc Formerly Known as Undertow

    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    It might have been Dundee and Waukegan. The only time I ever went in that direction was to hit up that Record City and it wasn't very often because it was a long drive. I remember they had a nice selection of imports and had a lot of interesting import 45s in a clearance rack.
     
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  8. Tim Simmons

    Tim Simmons Forum Resident

    Record City was at Dunsten Plaza originally at Dundee and Pfingston in Nortbrook, next to the old Villa Rosa Pizzaria. Record City moved to Willow and Pfingston shopping center (the one across from plaza del prado) sometime in in the early 90's. 93-94 maybe? I bought my first records there (TP's Wildflowers, STP Purple and Siamese Dream).
     
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  9. jamesc

    jamesc Formerly Known as Undertow

    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Thanks for nailing that down!

    I just remembered occasionally making an afternoon of driving down Dundee Road and hitting the arcade at Hicks Rd, Musicraft (to get cheap Maxell tapes and listen to their "BASF tapes are better" push), Columbia Audio/Video to drool over stereo equipment and then Rock'n Records and finally Record City.
     
  10. Tim Simmons

    Tim Simmons Forum Resident

    no good stores like that around anymore. Pretty sad actually. Plenty of Batteries Plus tho.
     
  11. Tim Simmons

    Tim Simmons Forum Resident

    Also, If anyone does comes across anything from Record City, I'd appreciate a pic being posted. Thank You.
     
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  12. weaselriot

    weaselriot Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Along with tons of fly by night nail salons, massage spas, dollar stores, payday loans, cell phone stores and seasonal pop-ups, as countless overbuilt strip malls try desperately to fill way overabundant retail space, to replace departed merchants where one might actually want to buy something in the past. Meanwhile I find myself having to buy lots of stuff from Amazon now, and not by choice. Outside of supermarkets and Walgreen/CVS pharmacies, the only smaller retailers left to patronize now are places like Ace Hardware, 7-Eleven and a dry cleaners. Even Wal-Mart now looks to actually have a bigger CD section than friggin' Best Buy(!).

    For music (which is why we are here on this forum) having a good used record and cd store which also sells some new release vinyl within a half hour drive is about as good as it can get. And who knows how long even that will last. Despite being in Chicago's northwest burbs, one place I do like to go is a strip mall in south suburban Milwaukee (Greenfield). It's easier to reach than inner city Chicago (traffic) for Places like Shuga Records and so on. And all in one spot they have Exclusive Company, a very big store with great selection of used and new vinyl and CDs.

    Wisconsin's Best Independent Record Store | The Exclusive Company | Record Store Locations - West Bend, Oshkosh, Appleton, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Greenfield & Janesville Wisconsin.

    It is well worth the trip because it's almost all freeway and right next door is Half-Price Books (with their own used vinyl and CD section) and right across the street is a full size Barnes and Noble. Being all together like that makes it a much shorter trip than driving into Chicago or other suburbs where such places are spread far apart.

    How I miss the old times...
     
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  13. Tim Simmons

    Tim Simmons Forum Resident

    I used to frequent the Exclusive locations On the East Side and in Brookfield. Great chain. While we're repping the MKE, I have to shout out Atomic Record. The best Milwaukee Record store RIP.
     
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  14. Planbee

    Planbee Nothing To See Here

    Location:
    Chicago
    I may have to drive up there someday to be reminded of what a CD store looks like...

    Maybe you or others can let me know if I'm missing anything CD-wise locally, but the only stores I can think of in the suburbs selling new CDs are Rolling Stone Records (very basic, bland selection) and Chicago Digital in Oak Park (if that place still exists).

    The guy who owns CD is nice enough, but he sure makes it difficult on you. First off, he's only open like 20 hours a week (no weekend hours!). Secondly, all his stock is either in the back (you have to leaf through his "inventory" via Amazon printouts) or overhead behind plexiglass (his boxsets).

    I'm in the southwest suburbs and can't think of anything going south towards Orland Park or west towards, say, Darien where there used to be a great Sound Warehouse on 75th & Lemont Rd.

    But at least if our mattresses go bad, we don't have to travel more than a block or two to find a replacement. :laugh:
     
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  15. weaselriot

    weaselriot Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I think it worth the trip, because it's almost all freeway, and once there you get three shots within eyeball distance. Exclusive is the best of the three, with both new and used CDs to go with new and used LPs, along with fairly decent selection of quality used DVDs (even a separate Criterion section). Right next door, literally, Half Price Books has a lesser selection of mostly used with some new CDs to go with mostly used vinyl. Some of the CDs, though are on wonky European labels for public domain stuff. As always, use discretion. And right across the street, a Barnes & Noble that has the usual Barnes & Noble selection of new LPs and CDs. I would have to say that Exclusive is the one that by itself is worth the trip, and there is another big Exclusive store in Milwaukee proper, so you can hit that one on the way up or back. Even from your far south neck of the woods it's probably about 90 minutes each way. For me up in northern burbs it's more like an hour each way, tops. It can take me that long to get to many parts of Chicago from home in northwest Cook.

    Do check for construction along I-94 in southern Wisconsin though. They had a really big project last year with lane closures, making evening trips a better idea then.
     
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  16. Tim Simmons

    Tim Simmons Forum Resident

    last year? That construction has been going on for what seems like a decade now.
     
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  17. weaselriot

    weaselriot Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL

    Same thing with the Kennedy Expressway between O'Hare and the Edens junction. Already going when I got married 12 years ago, still going strong.

    Maybe it is a revenue thing, keeping it all a perpetual construction zone so they can keep whacking people with the bigger fines.
     
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  18. And keeping the tolls in existence. Weren't those supposed to be eliminated in IL back in 1980 or something? Fat chance.
     
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  19. jamesc

    jamesc Formerly Known as Undertow

    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    I don't miss Chicago road construction! I'm amazed at how quickly and efficiently they do things down here compared to what I was used to up there.
     
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  20. Greg (or Henry Porter?)

    Greg (or Henry Porter?) Active Member

    Wow, a seven-year old thread that is still active! I found it yesterday because I had been going through a box of my old vinyl and Carlene Carter's "Two Sides to Every Woman" had a Sounds Good price sticker on it ($5.89 marked down to $4.99) and I couldn't remember where Sounds Good was.

    I lived in Chicago and various 'burbs from 1979 to the early 2000s and have probably been to half of the stores mentioned here. My original main two spots were Rolling Stone out in Norridge near my apt, and its sibling downtown, Rock Records, near my job. Lots of others over the years, including the Cal City Hegewisch on Torrence. When I lived on Printers Row in 1987, there was a hole-in-the-wall on a back street (maybe Federal) that specialized in punk, can't recall its name. At that time most of my purchases were from See Hear up on North Ave., which has only been mentioned once in this thread -- mistakenly as "See and Hear." It was a good store.

    If any if you make it to Portland, Oregon, be sure to check out Millennium Music (not Millennials!) on Burnside, and Everyday Music on Sandy, both fantastic. At EM I recently got a VG vinyl of Robert Palmer's "Double Fun" for $2.10! Portland has other great shops, as well, but sad to report they are starting to drop like flies. Sad, sad, sad.
     
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  21. Greg (or Henry Porter?)

    Greg (or Henry Porter?) Active Member

    Oops, it's Music Millenium. I had originally just typed Millennium, and then inserted Music at last minute not paying attention.
     
  22. weaselriot

    weaselriot Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL

    I recall that during mid-summer 1974, there was a grand opening of a Metro Music record store somewhere on the north side, maybe Cicero, Western or Ashland, at about Fullerton up to Belmont. I had never heard of Metro before, but I decided to go to the grand opening on a Saturday because I saw the ad on TV and they were giving away free records to people who showed up. It turned out that the free records were limited to a couple of bins of mostly junk. For my freebie I picked the second album by Jobriath, "Creatures of the Street", as a promo copy. I considered it a wasted trip at the time, but that record regularly brings down a cool $100 on eBay these days.

    Do you remember the address of that northside Metro Music location or the grand opening in 1974?
     
  23. pickwick33

    pickwick33 Forum Resident

    No. Didn't even know Metro Music had any kind of presence on the North Side, so this is new to me. They closed down around 1990, which is ten years later than you'd think.
     

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