Spring brings with it a special celebration especially for music lovers: Record Store Day. For those of you who don’t already have this day circled on your calendar, Record Store Day is an annual event to celebrate the independent record store. Held on the third Saturday of April, the event will run for the seventh year on April 19. Luckily, you don’t have to go far to participate in Record Store Day, because Oak Park has two independent record stores that are popular among local music lovers.
Opening in 1972, Val’s Halla Records has become an Oak Park staple. The owner, Val Camilletti, worked at a record store on South Boulevard and when it closed she decided to open her own store in its place. The store has since moved to its current location on Harrison Street.
Alan Hefflefinger opened Oak Park Records in 2004 after spending many years shopping in the record store that was housed in the same location on Oak Park Avenue. After attending college in River Forest, Hefflefinger settled down in the area and fulfilled his dream of opening his own store.
(Oak Park Records)
Both Oak Park stores have a lot coming up for this year’s Record Store Day. Many records are made and released exclusively for Record Store Day, and Oak Park Records and Val’s Halla Records will have some of those. Camilletti and Hefflefinger order a number of the exclusive albums but, unfortunately, the stores don’t know what they will ultimately receive. Record Store Day product is limited and stores all over the country are vying for the same albums.
Val’s Halla Records and Oak Park Records will both have storewide sales (excluding the Record Store Day albums) so music fans can enjoy browsing through their huge stock of records. Val’s Halla Records will have live music throughout the day and maybe even an appearance by WXRT’s Lin Brehmer and Terri Hemmert. (The radio DJs stopped by last year and we are crossing our fingers for their return!) At Oak Park Records, Hefflefinger’s wife will bake her famous cookies, which have become a Record Store Day tradition.
Camilletti and Hefflefinger both expressed their love for Record Store Day. Hefflefinger loves the event because “people are happy.” Camilletti feels similarly—she enjoys spending the day with customers who show up to celebrate and support the store. Because the list of Record Store Day releases had not been announced when I spoke with the store owners, it was too soon to tell which albums the store owners were looking forward to. Hefflefinger was not worried, though. He said that he is always able to find some releases he enjoys. Camilletti always looks forward to the “unusual” releases that can’t be found anywhere else, such as the WXRT compilation or recordings from an artist’s archives that are made available specifically for Record Store Day.
(Val’s Halla Records)
The store owners are happy to be part of the Oak Park community. Hefflefinger enjoys discussing music with customers, many of whom make weekly appearances in the store. His daughters also spend time in the store and you will most likely find them helping Dad on Record Store Day. Camilletti also loves her local customers. She enjoys that Oak Parkers have diverse and progressive music interests and are knowledgeable about the subject.
Below are some tips for making the most of the event:
– Make a list of exclusive releases that you want, but don’t expect to find them all. The list will help you keep track of titles as you shop. Check out the list of 2014 Record Store Day albums here.
– Start your day early. Val’s Halla Records will open at 9 am and Oak Park Records at 10 am, but be prepared for a line of customers anxiously waiting to get their hands on the exclusive releases. If you are more interested in the storewide sales, it might be safe to come out later, but keep in mind that product will be disappearing all day long.
– Accept that you can’t have all the exclusive releases. Stores limit the number of Record Store Day albums each customer can purchase in order for everyone to have an opportunity to get their hands on the records.
– Enjoy yourself. Take your time browsing through all the titles—and know that it’s okay to become giddy when you find a treasure.
– Thank your local record store. The event was created to celebrate record stores so purchasing an album or saying “hey” to Camilletti or Hefflefinger honors the day.
By Casey Griffith, OPRHC Research and Outreach Coordinator
Photos by (top to bottom): Fred Rockwood; oakpark.com; Chicago Sun-Times