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New Pinwheel Records in Pilsen Helps Man Fulfill Record Store Dream

By Stephanie Lulay | June 1, 2015 5:36am
 A Pilsen man plans to open Pinwheel Records in a vacant space at 1722 W. 18th St. in July.
A Pilsen man plans to open Pinwheel Records in a vacant space at 1722 W. 18th St. in July.
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DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay

PILSEN — A pre-midlife crisis has inspired Scott Schaaf to quit his day job to pursue his lifelong vinyl dream.

Schaaf plans to open Pinwheel Records, a new and used record store, in a vacant space at 1722 W. 18th St. just steps from the 18th Street Pink Line station. Schaaf, who moved to the neighborhood last month, hopes to open the shop on July 1. 

Although he's played in a few bands in the past and has wanted to open a record store for years, the 31-year-old Schaaf said his "pre-midlife crisis" and the increasing vinyl demand in Chicago spurred him into action.

"Owning my own record store is lifelong dream," he said.

To make the move, Schaaf will leave his job seven years at Meeting Tomorrow, an audio visual company based in Ravenswood, at the end of June. He will be the new shop's only employee, besides girlfriend Kim Foreit and "a few suckers I convinced to volunteer."

"Lots of my friends are music dorks, too," he said Friday.

Stephanie Lulay says Schaaf is hoping the vinyl trend is here to stay:

Schaaf, who moved to Pilsen last month after living in Lincoln Square for four years, said opening a record store in a neighborhood with a rich music culture, thanks to Thalia Hall, Honkey Tonk BBQ and other live music spots, was a "no-brainer." 

"My sister has lived in Pilsen a long time, and there's a lot going on in Pilsen. I think folks are finally starting to figure that out," he said. "For a community that has so much art going on, it kind of blew my mind that there's not a record store here."

While Pilsen doesn't have a store dedicated to selling records like a lot of other Chicago 'hoods, some of the neighborhood's vintage stores do sell records in addition to other merchandise.

Pinwheel Records will carry new and used vinyl, used CDs and knick knacks. Schaaf also plans to feature rotating artwork from local artists and host in-store performances from local and touring bands.

"We want to make [the shop] a really comfortable place," he said. "We hope people are going to come to buy records but we also want to build a nice community." 

The shop's name, Pinwheel Records, is the owner's "subtle little shout-out" to his favorite baseball team.

"If you go to a Sox game... even going back to the old Comiskey, you know the pinwheels that top the scoreboard," Schaaf said.

To help get the shop over the start-up hump, Schaaf launched a Indiegogo campaign that aims to raise $10,000. As of Friday, he's raised $2,640 so far, and the money will help buy fixtures, a cash register, inventory and a sound system.

While Schaaf has been "overwhelmed" with positive feedback from the neighborhood, he admits the process of opening a business has left him both "super excited and outrageously terrified."

"But I think that's just how it works," Schaaf said. "I'm very confident this will succeed."

The space at 1722 W. 18th St., which has been vacant for months, previously housed El Potrillo Western Wear.

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