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-from Cameron McGill

the last waltz (or the last weekend)

Today is a sad day for any number of reasons in the world. but I am going to just focus on one. After 27 years, my friend and boss, Mike Felten, will be closing the doors of Chicago's beloved Record Emporium. This weekend will be our last at the physical store...we will continue operating online.

Starting in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 1979, Mike brought the Record Emporium to Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood about 10 years ago. This was a grassroots business in the original sense; starting with Mike going to record shows across the U.S., traveling with LPs in the back of his car, making the rounds, meeting other store owners, finding new music in new places, weathering the changes and fickleness of the "music business," not the least of which was seeing first-hand the birth, life and death of the CD. This certainly was an interesting three decades for an independent record store to exist.

I am one of two employees at the store, and on behalf of Paul Capporino and myself...Thank You Mike!!!!!! For your support and love of music, for running a friendly independent record store for almost 30 years, 30 YEARS!!!!, for supporting local Chicago music and musicians, and finally, for giving me a job. I appreciate it. The store will be missed. The good news is that the Record Emporium will still have a thriving home online, and we will continue to operate from the bat cave.
from Chicago, thanks mike


"Brilliant, Unbelievably quick delivery, I couldn't believe that something from the USA could be despatched and delivered to the UK so quickly. It was a pleasure dealing with the Record Emporium..."

"My shopping experience with Record Emporium was exciting and rewarding
not only did I get the rare cd that I wanted, I also
received excellent customer service with knowledgeable help..." Stephen K. - one of our satisfied customers on our Music Stack store


by Wesley Willis

I like you well.
You can really jam harder like a magicist.
You are the mike felten king.
RECORD EMPORIUM is very special to me.


You are the best in the long run.
You can really get in the groove.
RECORD EMPORIUM is very special to me.
You can really jam harder like a magicist.


I like you well.
You really whoop a llama's ass.
You can really get in the groove.
About 10400 people like RECORD EMPORIUM.

Rock over London,
Rock on Chicago.

Pontiac - we build excitement.




The Record Emporium founded in 1979 was one of Chicago's premier independent record stores. We specialized in alternative rock, classic rock, blues, jazz and Americana.

The carefully cultivated funky ambiance of our store  made it a desirable location for several film projects. You can see us in the major motionpicture, Love Jones. We were closed for a week and Lorenz uttered the great line, "Melancholy, baby, not sad," to the lovely Nia.


We also were featured in the television show Cupid. Never saw the episode, so if you got any videos out there send them our way.

We also provided inspiration and expertise for the record store in High Fidelity. It's not about us, really. Don't be afraid to ask for Stevie Wonder, although I do have fantasies about beating someone with an air conditioner


 Record Emporium.


You can order anything on-line, pay for it securely (Illinois residents add 8.75% sales tax), get an e-mail confirmation and have us ship it directly to you ($4 for the first disc $1 for each additional disc anywhere in the U.S. $6 for the first disc anywhere in the world $1 for each additional disc. E-mail us for rates on books, LP's and everything else ).

For security reasons, we pull all the new discs from their cases before we place them on our shelves. Some imports also arrive without a factory seal. If you order a new disc, we will make every effort to get you one that is factory sealed, but sometimes you will receive our display copy. It will be in a resealable Japanese wrapper. Sorry, we have to do this. It is a lot more work for us, but it cuts down on theft considerably.


You know the music industry is in trouble when you open up Billboard and see us there..

Beating BEST BUY with Grassroots Retailing

Aug 9, 2003
Chicago - When it comes to selling records, there is more than one way to beat Best Buy. In fact, a number of independent stores - from Amoeba on the West Coast to the Record Emporium in Chicago - have discovered two: old fashioned retaiing and 21st century technology.

The retailing techniques run the gamut, from grassroots promotion and catering to local artists to stocking used and obscure titles. then it is tied together with a booming online business. The Record Emporium, an independent shop tucked into a busy neighborhood retail area on Chicago's North Side, bills itself as the "last of the old-time record stores." But the Internet is also a big part of the reason the store is in business 24 years after its doors opened, owner Mike Felten says.
Store employee Paul Caporino, who is also the singer/lead guitarist of local punk band M.O.T.O. (Masters of the Obvious), says Record Emporium does some 20%-30% of its volume online. The store's web site,, lists titles that can be purchased through a link to the web site

The Record Emporium itself comprises two rooms that contain 2500 square feet of space. One features appoximately 16,000 cds and 3,000 book titles; the other stocks vinyl records (including 45s) and tapes. It also houses the store's small plywood stage.

CDs that list $18.98 sell for $15.99, but Felten would rather leave discounting to the major chains. "We don't do sales, except for 20% off each New Year's Day," he says. "It's one of our best days." Instead he has crafted the shop into a destination store for Americana, alternative rock, jazz, blues and classic rock. It also specialized in local music like that offered by alt-country indie label Bloodshot Records. The store buys direct from other, smaller labels and purchases indie product from Chicago-based wholesalers Choke and Carrot Top, along with Southern Records and Distribution. Major-label product comes from Alliance Entertainment Corp. "They could care less whether I'm here or not," Felten says candidly. "But the smaller labels do."

In addition to working hand in glove with small labels, the Record Emporium caters to "local bands with no distribution or those who don't know how to go about getting distribution," Felten says. He devotes one of the store's three listening stations to Chicago acts, which in June included singer-songwriters Justin Roberts and Ellen Rosner and guitar-pop act Frisbie. Felten puts such acts in the listening station for free if they do an in-store appearance. Recent performers have included Billy Joe Shaver, Over the Rhine, Danny Barnes, Last Train Home and Rod Picott.

Some 40% of the units sold at Record Emporium could be classified as "used," though Felton notes that that term has become problematic for Chicago's small indie retailers that sell previously owned product. Last year, he says, the city of Chicago passed an amendment requiring all such stores to buy a second-hand reseller's license at $500 per year. Felten applied for a license, only to be told he was in the wrong zone to be eligible for one. He was stuck with a $200 ticket from the city last December for selling used CDs. "I told the Dept. of Revenue," he says, " that when I buy product from a distributor, it was previously owned by a record label. They said, "You know what we mean." It's a well-intentioned law. They want to cut down on theft." Record Emporium still sells used CDs, which Felten says is OK as long as he buys them from the previous owner at a location other than his own store.
"This is stuff people can't get in small towns," he says. "We just sold a Foo Fighters 10-inch." Felten says that because of the changes in the industry, the store is working more directly with artists. "If I hear an independent record I like, I can email the artist and work directly with him/her to promote it, do in-stores, etc., " he says.

Moira McCormick