It’s a cliche, but buying music these days is something more commonly done behind a computer, in isolation, than in person and in your neighborhood. Especially with DJ-centered genres like House Music, Techno and all of the varieties and genres in between, it’s sometimes easier to use the unlimited “shelf space” of an online retailer than it is to drive down to your local record shop (if there even is one anymore) and see if they stock what you’re looking for.
Nevertheless, if you look through your record collection – especially among your favorites – you can probably remember the day you were flipping through a shelf and found that “secret weapon” or that ultra-rare pressing lodged in the back. Nearly every great House Music record I own, I can also remember the person who recommended it to me – the artist, if not the title. It’s always been easier to release music than it is to find an audience for it, which is why crate digging still exists and serious music lovers still love their local record stores.
The following list contains some of Chicago’s most treasured record stores – some used, a few new, and some with a little bit of everything, from Disco to House Music to Techno to Jazz, but most of all sell House Music. If you have a suggestion for an addition, feel free to make a recommendation.
1109 North Western Avenue, Chicago
(just north of Division Street)
Report: One of 5 Mag’s favorite hangouts in the city, Kstarke owner Kevin Starke is an old school head and decorates his store in old movie billboards alongside classic Chicago House flyers and posters. Huge range of hand-picked classic House, some new releases, and other genres including indie, jazz, blues, hip-hop, disco, DJ mixtapes and more. It’s rare to walk out of here empty-handed and rarer still to have spent yourself into a hole, as he keeps prices manageable.
Update: Now closed.
2843 North Clark Street, Chicago
Report: Gramaphone has been around for parts of four decades (dating back to 1969) and is still a first-stop for any of a billion and one dance music genres. Vinyl and a smaller CD selection, DJ mixes and a great deal of DJ equipment, accessories, shirts and stuff.
1120 North Ashland, Chicago
(Corner of Haddon St, 1 block south of Division Street)
Report: Dusty Groove opens their extensive storage spot up to the public every day from 10am to 8pm. You can find a great deal of new and used stuff here, from rare soul classics to the latest imports.
Mr Peabody’s Records
11832 South Western Avenue, Chicago
Report: Mark Grusane and Mike Cole, the owners of Mr Peabody’s Records, are classic crate diggers themselves, and a number of international figures are known to make a stop here any time they come into town.
UPDATE: Now closed.
3126 North Broadway / 1532 North Milwaukee / 26 East Madison, Chicago
Report: Looking to buy House Music and classic dance records leaves you in a strange position as the tiniest part of the tiniest sub-market of the music-buying public. Most prominent indie record stores specialize in rock, punk, indie and other genres. Reckless however is known to hold and stock some of the best rare records you can find in Chicago, from old regional soul labels to fly-by-night disco operations.