ROGERS PARK — Ray Pate has brought his love for music to his home neighborhood of Rogers Park.
Chicago Ray Records opened Aug. 1 at 7051 N. Clark St., offering vinyl records from a wide variety of genres and eras. The collection might be familiar to some North Side record crate diggers.
Pate previously owned RPM Music at 1839 W. Irving Park Road in North Center, which was in business 2016-2018. A dispute with the landlord forced RPM to close, but it gave Pate the opportunity to open a store in a neighborhood he knows well.
“The plan was to always open again and move into Rogers Park because it’s needed here,” Pate said. “People who buy records are moving here. Rents are going up and they can find a deal here.”
Chicago Ray Records is still a work in progress, but he has a highly curated collection of classic rock, mid-century crooners and new vinyl records. He is still adding to the store.
Custom shelving units are being made for the store, but for now, records are in crates on top of folding tables. Display stands show some of the more popular or rare records for sale.
Used stereo equipment and locally made tie-dye T-shirts are also being sold.
While some industries — like live music — have been decimated by the pandemic, record stores appear to be doing OK, Pate said. He called around to friends in the industry to ask how sales were, and the response was reassuring, Pate said.
“I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m listening to more music than ever before,” Pate said. “I said, ‘Maybe I can take advantage of that.'”
Pate plans to host live music and community events at Chicago Ray Records once it is safe to do so.
He said he is happy to be open in Rogers Park, where neighbors consistently support the local small business community.
Plus the neighborhood’s diversity allows Pate to expand his own musical tastes and hone his skills for finding unique and rare records, he said. Requests come in for all kinds of records, such as Mexican pop and international genres that may have never been widely released in the United States.
“People ask me for stuff and they just floor me,” he said. “That’s the best part of my job, finding stuff for people and getting them the best deal.”
Chicago Ray Records is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sundays.
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