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'High Fidelity' Movie Storefront to Be Home to City Soles

By Alisa Hauser | October 13, 2014 1:08pm | Updated on October 13, 2014 1:11pm
 The retail storefront at 1514 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park was sold for $1.4 million on Feb. 7, according to county records. The space served as the exterior of "Championship Vinyl," a fictional record shop in the "High Fidelity" movie.
1514 N. Milwaukee Ave.
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WICKER PARK — A storefront that once served as part of the exterior set for "High Fidelity" will become the new home for City Soles, a local shoe boutique that has been a Wicker Park shopping staple since the 1990s, the shop's owner announced Monday.

Currently at the Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection, City Soles, known for its friendly staff and unique shoe selection at 2001 W. North Ave., will be relocating one block south to 1514 N. Milwaukee Ave. in March, said Scott Starbuck, the shop's owner.

"I never thought I would ever leave the corner but big corporate multi-national brands have pushed the rent prices up in the neighborhood," Starbuck said.

Starbuck said he is "tickled" about the new location and believes it will be a better shopping destination for his shop's clientele because "some of our customers are turned off" by the current corner location.

"It's too busy and too hectic.... You have people begging for money and pitching Greenpeace.  At the new location you can pull right up; we will have some parking spots designated," Starbuck said.

Boarded up for almost 15 years, the storefront at 1514 N. Milwaukee Ave., on the northwest corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Honore Street, was used as an exterior set scene in the 2000 cult movie "High Fidelity."

The 3,000-square-foot corner space, which features a distinctive blue and white turret, served as the exterior for "Championship Vinyl," a record store owned by John Cusack's character, Rob Gordon.

Starbuck, 48, started City Soles in 1991, originally inside Century Mall at Clark and Diversey. Starbuck expanded the shop to Wicker Park in 1996 and closed City Soles' Lakeview location in 2010.

City Soles has been focusing for at least the past three years on selling its shoes, jewelry and other merchandise via its website. Starbucks said that City Soles' online sales increased 380 percent last year and that the new shop will "feel like a dot-com company" with "a brand new shiny look."

The new shop will offer multimedia screens and a dedicated space for a small studio to film City Soles TV, a weekly online show hosted by Starbuck.

"We are positioning ourselves as a web company that has brick-and-mortar. We want to be like the indie Zappos," Starbuck said.

Starbuck said the shop's brick-and-mortar customers include tourists.

"Wicker Park has become a pretty amazing tourist destination. Last week we had kids from Korea, a couple from Canada, another couple from Switzerland. It is the alternative to Michigan Avenue. Wicker Park is the place to go," he said.

On Friday, several of the shop's workers said they were happy about the relocation, which will not impact sales because City Soles will remain open through Feb. 28 at its existing space and reopen on March 1 at the new spot.

"It's a new beginning; we're happy we got the location we wanted and are staying in the neighborhood," said Tarri Breeden, the store's general manager.

Starbuck said the move to the new space was prompted by the fact Starbucks coffee shop, adjacent to City Soles, is planning an expansion and taking over his old storefront.

A spokeswoman for the Seattle-based Starbucks said she has no updates about a possible expansion.

Meanwhile, other retailers on Milwaukee Avenue welcomed the news of City Soles' new digs.

"I am not too happy about the [Milwaukee, North, Damen] corner possibly turning into a super Starbucks but I am happy for Scott [Starbuck] and I am glad City Soles is still on the block," said Nancy Becker, owner of Una Mae's, a boutique at 1528 N. Milwaukee Ave. just a few doors north of City Soles' future spot.

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