lundi 22 octobre 2012


Here we go with a new portrait. And this time, we are dealing with a monument : DUSTY GROOVE AMERICA in Chicago. A personal favorite since years. Rick, one of the boss, was kind enough to take some time for us to answer few questions (there are nearly a year).

- Could you tell us the story of the shop?

Dusty Groove America started in 1996 as an online-only store at   We were big collectors, DJs, and diggers -- and for years, we'd taken trips around the country to buy records for ourselves, but often found surplus records that we'd begun selling on the side to finance our "habit".  Then, we got the idea of setting up a website to offer some of the records we found to a larger international audience -- which we knew was out there from visits to London, Paris, and other global cities.

We had other jobs at the time, so Dusty Groove was really just a hobby -- a labor of love.  But soon, it quickly took off, and we had to make the decision to dive in full time, which we did gladly.  The website grew rapidly, and we soon moved to a loft in a part of Chicago -- Wicker Park -- that had a lot of good foot traffic, and began opening a weekend-only store.  Eventually, we moved around the corner, to our present location -- where we've been for 10 years -- and opened a full-time store at street level.

It's never been work at all -- and every day, I still walk in the door with great excitement -- eager to see and hear the new records that we receive.

- From the beginning of the shop , did the situation change for the shop ? 

As time has gone on, we've found more room for more music we love -- partly because of the growth of the store, but also because being around music all day long makes us like things even more than before.  I can honestly say that for myself, there are hundreds of artists that I thought I didn't like years ago -- but now love deeply, because being around their records has helped me expand my understanding of their creativity.  I think that for some people, music listening can be a "narrowing" experience ("this isn't great", "I only like this sort of music", etc) -- but for us, it's always a "widening" one -- where each year, there's more and more music that really turns us on.

Also, another change has happened in recent years:  With less record stores in general, I think we feel more of a duty to try to offer more music to our customers.  When we started, Dusty Groove was all about trying to be different from other record stores -- offer a focus and selection that was not out there in all the other stores on the market.  But now, the market is so small, I'm not sure there is any sort of "normal" store -- those of us who are left, are all specialized -- and in some way, we've felt more of a need to make things available that we never touched before -- country, classical, and so on.

 what do  you think about the digging phenomena? Are you a digger yourself?

Yes, nothing makes me happier than digging through a large pile of records or CDs

- Are you vinyl only or Do you also like CD or MP3?

We love CDs too -- as they offer so much music in such a great format -- and CDs carry with them many of the same appeal of records -- a physical format, great artwork, lots of information, and a lasting record of wonderful music.  Plus, lots of CDs are rare and out of print, too!

- For you, is a record shop more than a place to buy record ?

Yes, it is.  A record store is critical in terms of the preservation/circulation of music.  There are almost no archives of popular music -- and those that exist are often poorly funded, and relatively "closed" spaces that don't easily offer themselves up to the public -- just elite groups or researchers.  The situation is very different with books -- which have often been accessible to the masses from libraries big and small -- and even with film, which since the advent of the rental market, has allowed most people to become cinephiles in their own homes.  But music never gets this kind of exposure and connection anywhere other than the record store (save, perhaps for radio, cassette tape circulation, and now digital files) -- and the record store is both a place to bring together music, and set it free again into the world.

The social dimension is certainly part of that too -- but honestly, we're always working so hard here to get our jobs done, that we might be less social than most record stores!

- how do you see yourself in 10 years?

Still around, still happy and healthy, and hopefully keeping an eye on the future -- especially when it comes to new formats.  We'd honestly love to be selling digital music -- but right now, it's virtually impossible for the little guys like us to do well.  The format already emerged in the hands of the giants -- and seems destined to only be operating strongly at the iTunes level.  But I really think there's a huge amount stores like us could bring to the digital experience -- and honestly, there's just about nobody out there who's really found the right way to sell digital music -- at least not at the level that has been done with LPs and CDs.

                              1120 N Ashland Ave -- Chicago, IL, USA
                          (Corner of Haddon Street, 1 Block South of Division Street)

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