AVONDALE — An Avondale shop known for its hard-to-find records and pop culture memorabilia is temporarily closed after a frozen pipe burst in the store over the weekend, causing flooding and damaging inventory.
The pipe burst in the ceiling of Bric-a-Brac Records & Collectibles, 2845 N. Milwaukee Ave., on Christmas morning, on the heels of the coldest Christmas Eve Chicago has seen in 40 years.
An “obscene amount of water” worked its way through the store, destroying at least 3,000 records and other items in the shop, including VHS tapes and books, co-owner Nick Mayor said.
Bric-a-Brac’s entire soundtrack section — one of the shop’s signature record collections, which included boutique horror releases — didn’t survive the flood, which is especially devastating, Mayor said.
“That’s something that’s a big passion of ours, and we really pride ourselves on having that kind of collection. To lose it all in one fell swoop is harder than the quantity of records lost,” he said.
Mayor runs Bric-a-Brac with his wife, Jen Lemasters. The two moved the shop to Milwaukee Avenue earlier this year after eight years of business on Diversey Avenue, seeking more space. They also opened adjoining horror-themed coffee shop, The Brewed, with their friend Jason Deuchler.
Mayor was in Alabama celebrating Christmas with his family when he received word from a couple neighbors that water was pouring out of the shop and firefighters were called to the scene. He flew home early to tend to the situation.
Freezing temperatures over the weekend caused pipes to burst and flooding across Chicago.
The debacle at Bric-a-Brac was a direct result of the extreme cold weather, but there may have been contributing factors, Mayor said. Bric-a-Brac’s exterior wall is missing some insulation, and less heat is getting into the space after the neighboring laundromat moved out, he said.
Mayor said their insurance company is covering almost all of the repair work, which means “financially, we’ll be fine,” though they’ll need the community’s help to fill the gap in inventory. The store lost dozens of imports and releases that are now out of print, he said.
Bric-a-Brac will likely remain closed through January while construction crews make repairs to the store, he said.
“Our insurance deductible is $1,000. … We’ll be supported that way. But just because we get the money back for the stuff we lost doesn’t mean we can get the stuff we lost back. We need people to sell us their stuff,” Mayor said.
Mayor and Lemasters have tapped local artist Ryan Duggan to design a special Bric-a-Brac T-shirt that will held fund the rebuild. The T-shirt will be available to buy in coming weeks, Mayor said.
“We’re going to be OK. For any month of the year for us not to be able to open, January is a pretty good one,” Mayor said, referring to slow retail sales after the holidays. “But it’s definitely a shock and feels like it’s deja vu. This time a year ago, the space looked exactly the same. Jan. 1 is when we opened back up.”