New record store joins Wicker Park family

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New record store joins Wicker Park family

Shuga Records

Shuga Records

Carolina Sanchez

Shuga Records

Carolina Sanchez

Carolina Sanchez

Shuga Records

By Assistant Arts & Culture Editor

For the past 20 years, vinyl has regained popularity, and Wicker Park is prime real estate for collectors. To offer fans more options, Shuga Records will open its first retail location in Wicker Park this October, making it the third record store in the West Side neighborhood.

Adam Rosen, a former DJ, opened the first Shuga Records in Minneapolis in 2004 after  he met success selling his records online. In 2012, Rosen launched Shuga Records in Chicago, which became the city’s largest online record store out of its warehouse at 4115 W. Ogden Ave. The new store will be located at 1272 N. Milwaukee Ave, just blocks from a Reckless Records at 1532 N. Milwaukee Ave. and Dusty Groove, 1120 N. Ashland Ave., two of Chicago’s most notable record stores.

Rosen said he has always wanted to open up a brick-and-mortar record store in Chicago, but has been selective about the location because he wanted to maintain the shop’s ability to house its diverse inventory of more than 500,000 records. 

“The new space is going to be built just for us,” Rosen said. “There is going to be custom furniture so we can get as much vinyl in there [as possible] without making it look stupid.”

Wicker Park has a long association with music, the arts and record shops in particular. Rick Wojcik, owner of Dusty Groove, has been selling records in the neighborhood since 1997.

“[Wicker Park] has always been a good neighborhood for record stores,” Wojcik said. “They’re coming into the neighborhood, but they’re following a long tradition. It’s been a place for indie stores for 20 years.”

Although the record stores are close to one another, Gar Brandt, manager of Reckless Records, said the addition of Shuga Records to Wicker Park would not create tension between the three shops. 

“We have a map marking other record stores in the neighborhood, promoting people to go to record stores even though they are in competition with us,” Brandt said. “Mostly, what I believe in is promoting music in general, going to a record store and finding something that you would never look for when going online.” 

Beth Sholtis, the interim executive director of the Wicker Park- Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, said in an emailed statement that having three record shops in the same neighborhood could generate more customers rather than create competition.

“Having three cool places to shop for music makes it a little easier to justify coming in from Kenosha, South Bend, Europe or Asia,” Sholtis said. “We’re excited about the opportunities for everyone.”

Gar Brandt said that the distinct identities the shops have are what keep them in business.

“Each record store has their own character,” Brandt said. “Dusty Groove does better with jazz and world. Reckless has always been a general shop, and based on what [Rosen] is selling, it seems a little more pricey than other stores. I don’t know what kind of sound he is looking for or what kind of character he wants to put out.” 

Rosen said Shuga Records will be the place to go for original pressings, including the rare ones.

“We’re going to take things from all the other stores, like what we did in Minneapolis, and do it all,” Rosen said. “Our store will always have every Beatles, Zappa and Zeppelin. We will always have great, original pressings.”

Rosen said he wants this Shuga Records location to be recognized for how it operates, which he understands may upset some potential customers.

“Our place will not be a dig bin,” Rosen said. “Record people may get pissed that they’re not going to find a $1,000 record by accident… We are not a Salvation Army. If you don’t want to waste time and you are looking for ‘that’ record, we have it.”

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