We're searching high and low to bring you the best of Chicago's record stores from yesteryear!
Coop's was an oasis for jazz & soul music and a quintessential family business. Ezell Cooper, known and loved by us Mr. Coop, took ownership of the store at 1605 W. 87th in 1986 and it was an important part of the Chicago soul and jazz community for many years to come, also carrying blues, gospel and more.
Chicago's Dr. Wax stores, from the early 1980s until the last one closed in 2010, truly embodied the idealized notion of a neighborhood record store. Opened by Sam Greenberg in Lincoln Park in 1980, with a second location on the south side in Hyde Park following in 1984, and a couple more locations to come on the north side in the Edgewater neighborhood and in north suburban Evanston, they catered strongly to the neighborhoods they were in.
Here's a video of a long-gone Chicago record store, but one that was very important to us, as it was a place where we learned a heck of a lot about funky 45s
The store was run by Ernest Dubose, who was a TV repairman by trade, but who also ended up carrying records. This was very common with many appliance stores in the postwar years, partly because record players were often big, and treated like appliances and furniture.
Hegewisch Records & Tapes was a mini-empire of independently owned south side & south suburban shops founded as a late 1960s general store in the namesake Hegewisch neighborhood, before branching out and moving the flagship record store to south suburban Calumet City. Other south suburban locations were in Richton Park and Merrillville, Indiana.
VP Records was a Latin soul, jazz and salsa record emporium at the heart of Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood in the 1970s, owned by soon-to-be Chicago radio legend Victor Parra.
Best remembered today as a revolutionary record label, Wax Trax! the label sprung from a local record store. Jim Nash & Dannie Flesher first opened Wax Trax! in Denver, CO in the late 70s, before selling the Denver shop and re-opening in a then-affordable section of North Lincoln Ave. in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood a couple years later. While the label's groudbreaking reputation grew and grew, Wax Trax!
When we first mentioned to local friends that we were thinking about setting up some kind of web-based tribute to Chicago record stores of the past, we got a lot of obvious (though entirely worthy) suggestions. But our friend Joe Bryl threw us a curveball: Yardbird Records. Joe has been one of Chicago's most prolific DJs and keenest collectors for many years, and he remembers Yardbird as one of the first stores in the city to carry punk rock in the 1970s.