Reckless Records finds new home in spacious storefront


Nohemi Rosales

Wicker Park’s iconic record store, Reckless Records, opened up shop at a new, spacious storefront on April 16.

By Ariel Parrella-Aureli

Music flows through the new, spacious storefront location of Reckless Records at 1379 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. 

The new store, which sells new and used records, moved a couple blocks away to the larger space to make room for more vinyls, according to David Hofer, a new product buyer for the store. The new storefront is one of the record shop’s three Chicago locations.

Hofer said there were many reasons the owners decided to move, but the main reason was that the record store needed more space.

“[We were] bursting at the seams,” Hofer said. “We were out of shelf space behind and in front of the counter.” 

Hofer, who has been with the company for 12 years, said he remembers feeling like he could not breathe at the previous location because it was so cramped. He said it was becoming difficult to shop and work there, adding that they also had storage units full of records. 

But the move became necessary when a Wicker Park real estate company bought the old building. Hofer said that change triggered the move, and he encouraged the owners to buy the new space. Although they were leaving their long-time landlord and friend as well as the familiar neighborhood, Hofer said they felt that it was time for a change.

Jeff Linnane, owner of Filter Cafe, one of Reckless Records’ new neighbors, said the cafe has been at its current location for five years now, but it was hard to get back on its feet when it first moved to 1373 N. Milwaukee Ave. The new location was not seeing the same volume of visitors compared to its southern Wicker Park location, which had successfully anchored a crowd of people, he said. Filter Cafe, 1373 N. Milwaukee Ave. used to be Reckless’ neighbor when they were in South Wicker Park. 

Linnane said it is nice to have Reckless back in the neighborhood to bring more visitors for nearby businesses in the area.

“What we are aiming for is more foot traffic,” Linnane said. “We all sort of feed off of each other.”

Linnane said the store has been a great neighbor so far. He said he notices people going between shops to get records and coffee, so he is happy about the combination. There has been an increase in business since the move, but he said it is too early to determine whether it is a direct result of the record store’s presence. 

Hofer said the first week open was very busy, but the business is now stable like it used to be. He said initially they were slightly worried about whether people would come to the new location because so many regulars and businesses knew Reckless at its old spot. 

“All of our regulars seem to have figured out where we’re at,” Hofer said. “It’s been good. It’s not been dead.”

Sam Bower, a resident of the neighborhood, frequently shops at Reckless Records. He said he only found out about the store’s move by going to the old location and seeing the sign plastered on the empty windows. Bower said he did not realize the store had moved but enjoys the new setup. 

“It is way bigger and smells brand new,” Bower said. “It’s a good location.”

The welcoming energy and upgraded space will definitely bring Bower back to shop at Reckless Records, he said. 

Lucy Honold was also pleased with the new storefront. Honold said she learned about Reckless when she used to live near one of the store’s branches at 3126 N. Broadway St. in Lakeview. She added that she would go there frequently before learning of the Wicker Park location when she moved.  

“I’m happy that they are in a bigger, nicer space,” Honold said.

Honold is not a frequent record buyer like Bower—she said her most recent visit to Reckless was the first time she went shopping for records in 2015. She also said she buys records a couple of times a year, but she will definitely return at some point in the future. 

Hofer said the new store provides more space to work in, store records, host music events such as album signings and allows for shoppers to fit comfortably in the space.

“I believe that [Reckless Records] is a great thing for this part of the neighborhood,” Linnane said.