About Dusty Groove
There have been plenty of highlights in our history. Here are some of the most memorable moments.
The idea of an online record store is conceived by two Chicago crate diggers, on their way back from a massive buying trip — stuck in a snowstorm in the mountains of Pennsylvania.
Dusty Groove opens for business at dustygroove.com — run as a part-time hobby out of an apartment on Chicago's south side.
Dusty Groove's online business becomes so popular, the company becomes full-time — hiring its first employee, and moving into a back-alley office with very low rent in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. The space is very hard to find, and was previously used as an apartment by a low-profile prostitute.
The first of Dusty Groove's monthly in-person sales. Local interest in the website led to Chicago demands to buy records in person — so Dusty Groove began to open its office for one Saturday afternoon every month.
Business is great, and Dusty Groove is bursting at the seams of its back-alley office — and moves to the Wicker Park neighborhood at 1180 N Milwaukee Ave. The new space is loft-like, on a second floor — and is better suited to work as a store and an office for a website. As a result, Dusty Groove begins to open every week to the public on Friday and Saturday afternoons.
Dusty Groove is bigger than ever, has really outgrown its space — and purchases its own corporate headquarters on Ashland Ave. The three story building allows for much more efficient service for internet customers, but will also allow for a ground-level storefront as well.
Dusty Groove moves into its new space at 1120 N Ashland Ave. The building houses a store that is now open from Thursday afternoon through Sunday — as well as a "walk up" window that allows local Chicago customers the chance to shop online, and pick up their orders any day of the week. But by the end of the year, the popular store is open seven days a week — a big leap for a company that still does most of its business online. Both Chicago customers and out of town visitors had requested more regular hours — and we were only happy to accommodate.
An ill-fated move leads us to start UHF Comics — our own comic book shop, both online and as a Chicago store. We quickly learn that we're better at music than comics, and close up shop without doing too much damage.
Dusty Groove begins its own record label — reissuing titles licensed from Universal and Sony Music. The response is great — even for the weird titles we love so much.
Record Store Day comes our way — the start of a great run that would draw big crowds for lots of wonderful releases for years to come.
The massive financial crisis hits — and we have our worst winter in decades. We brace for the worst — and soon rediscover just how much we love this place, and work harder than ever to make Dusty Groove a company that will survive anything that comes our way.
Used CDs join the racks next to rare LPs and other vinyl — making a big shift for Dusty Groove. In the wake of the recession, so many great CDs went out of print that we decided it was time to start handling used CDs with the same care we brought to records.
The start of a great new trend for Dusty Groove — our participation in local Chicago events and festivals — including the excellent Renegade Craft Fair, pop-up stores, and other special record-selling moments.
Rolling Stone names Dusty Groove the #3 Record Store In America, which is followed by similar placement on other lists from Time Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Readers Digest, and others.
One of our biggest buying seasons ever — and the beginning of an era that has Dusty Groove acquiring large collections from around the globe. Our buyers had always traveled before — but they really start to branch out to large institutions and archives that bring us some of our grooviest records ever.
We shorten our name — from the previous Dusty Groove America to just Dusty Groove. Most folks had taken to just calling us by the shorter name anyway — and we felt that it was time to become a bit more international.
A massive overhaul of the Dusty Groove website, and the start of a big run of growth. Dusty Groove is now easier than ever to access on phones, tablets, and other devices — paves the way for lots of new features and expanded music to come.
Our annual garage and sidewalk sales proved to be so popular that we opened up a giant Bargain Basement — filled with thousands of LPs, CDs, 12" singles, and 45s all at rock-bottom prices and only available in our Chicago store — where we've been adding hundreds of new titles every week.
We complete a remodel of our Chicago store that expands floor space by a third and gives us room for up to 50% more records and CDs — so that we have room for all of the top-shelf collections we've acquired throughout the past year.
We celebrate our 20th birthday by throwing a giant block party in Chicago — and by giving away a lots of goodies to our customers online.
2019 saw the completion of the film Dusty Groove — The Sound Of Transition. The film follows a few key stories of customers selling their records, with just the right amount of focus on the way that music has shaped their lives. From the time we started the shop, we've always been as inspired by the people who love the music as much as the people who make it — and individuals and audiences have taught us so much more about music than we ever would have learned ourselves — so much so, that we know our lives would have been a lot less rich without them.
This isn't one of those "vinyl is all warm and fuzzy" or "people who like records are really cool" sorts of movies — as it's more about the longer, deeper relationship that records play in people's lives — especially from the Chicago perspective that we feel honored to be a part of. One key focus of the film is on an overlooked jazz musician in the city — alto saxophonist Grady Johnson, also one of the city's first African-American pharmacists — and there's also a key chapter in the life of one of the most important hip hop DJs in Chicago, a figure who helped give early space to later stars like Common and Kanye. But even without these semi-stars, the film does a great job of getting at the complexity of the world of records — where they flow, where they hide, and how their re-circulation on the planet really helps encourage an ongoing cultural dialogue.
As the world shuts down amidst a global pandemic, Dusty Groove closes its doors to the public. Thanks to the efforts of our stalwart staff, and the strong support of our online customers, we are able to weather the worst of the shutdown, and keep on working strongly behind closed doors. During the time, we completely revisit the way we handle orders and all of our other business, then gradually reopen stronger than before.
We also reactivate our takeout window — an idea we first launched for local online order pickup back in 2001! The concept was a bit too far ahead of its time at the start of the millennium — but it helped us to provide safe shopping for local customers, whose support was crucial to us during the pandemic.
As with the rest of the world, we're forced to adapt to the changing landscape of the pandemic — but our experience in 2020 has given us a great way to move forward. Thanks to the support of our customers and the commitment of our staff, 2021 turns out to be the strongest year in the history of Dusty Groove!