In a year which saw the closing of the Jazz Record Mart, Shake Rattle and Read, and Bookworks, the Chicago indie book and record store scene takes another hit. Saki Records will be closing their doors at 3716 W Fullerton on December 1. Patrick Monaghan, store owner as well as owner of Carrot Top Distribution and Records (Handsome Family, Daniel Knox, Speck Mountain), wrote a letter explaining the reasons for closing up shop, as well as a letter of advice to new musicians that are just starting out.
Saki isn’t huge but it invites customers to linger and indulge in conversation, two actions musicians and artists will find only more valuable in the next four years. What I like about record shopping is entering a store with no expectations and leaving with a handful of records I had no idea existed before. My most recent visit to Saki found me almost leaving empty-handed. Some days, nothing quite catches the eyes and ears. But then I saw the new Hecks record recently put out on Trouble in Mind that I hadn’t picked up yet. And sauntering over toward the beginning of the alphabet, I noticed an early Blonde Redhead album on sale. Keep looking and you never know what gems you’ll uncover.
Some of my personal favorite memories include a live solo performance by Angel Olsen, and Jeff Tweedy of Wilco interviewing members of the band Low. Again, the store was intimate and inviting. Additionally, Saki was committed to supporting the local music scene, by keeping a section of the racks dedicated to Chicago bands. It’s where I was able to find 7” singles by Shapers, one of my favorite bands, or a rare piece of wax by Teenage Lovers, the solo project by Max Kakacek while the Smith Westerns were getting their start and before his current band Whitney. I could fill in the blanks of my Clash collection or find some solid Thelonius Monk (one of my favorite records to cook to) or John Coltrane, or hell, why not buy some Robert Goulet singles for fifty cents?
I was by no means a regular at the store, but I’d try to make sure to stop in every now and again. When I went a few weeks ago, it was the first time in a longer while than I’d realized. Laying my records down at the checkout counter, Adam Hirzel gave me a look of recognition. Even though the gig I played at Saki was almost five and a half years ago, he still remembered me and that show. That’s someone you want at a record store, someone knowledgeable about music who also appreciates the customers. They’ll be remembered for that kind of service, day long Record Store Day parties, and strongly supporting Chicago’s music scene.
As of this writing, all in-store purchases at Saki are 40% off and all online sales are 25% off. Saki Records officially closes on Thursday, December 1. Share your #sakimemories on Twitter.