A bunch of the record stores I once loved visiting are long gone. So it goes when you’ve been record digging for 50 years.
Prange’s basement and Evans in Sheboygan, Prange’s loft and Bob’s Musical Isle in Wausau, Freedom Records and Earthly Goods in Green Bay, Resale Records in Madison, all closed after I’d moved away. Truckers Union is still there on Water Street in Eau Claire, but it got out of the record business in the ’80s, again after I’d moved away.
But in all that time, only one regular stop closed as I watched it go.
Now another regular stop is closing as I watch it go.
James Giombetti — Mr. G — was the owner and voice of The Exclusive Company, a small chain of indie record stores in Wisconsin. He died last November. His family didn’t want to continue the business.
The liquidation sale at the Green Bay store started on April 12. With up to 50% off everything, the first few days were a zoo. At the end of the second day, this is what the vinyl aisle looked like.
My friend Tom has worked at the Green Bay store since 1988. (I never knew those were called header cards.)
On the fourth day, April 15, I finally made it down there, more curious than anything. The new vinyl bins you see above on the right looked more like this.
Someone had put that new Beatles release among the used records. With the Beatles header card long gone, I repatriated it to the front of the “B” bin.
On the fourth day, as I dug through the bins, Tom announced a milestone: “That’s the last Hellacopters CD I’ll ever sell in Green Bay.”
On the fourth day, I found only a 45 — “2+2=?/Ivory” by the Bob Seger System, a 2017 release on Jack White’s Third Man Records label. Here’s the title cut from the original 45 on Capitol from 1968.
It’s fitting. The Exclusive Company bins have yielded a couple of records with the cool vintage cuts Bob Seger disavows, the LPs mentioned in this 2018 blog post.
I stopped in again yesterday, on the 18th day. Still plenty of records, still new releases on the new release wall, but the bins are clearly emptying out. The liquidation sale goes on through May and June. Still plenty of records, but none for me on the 18th day.
There will be other days for digging at The Exclusive Company in Green Bay, but they’re dwindling to a precious few.