Shake, Rattle & Read owner Ric Addy expected a big turnout for the store giveaway on Tuesday and Wednesday — and he got it.
The Uptown vintage store closed its doors Saturday, but shelves were still flooded with issues of Spin and Rolling Stone, cassettes of Bobby Caldwell and John Butcher, old newspaper clippings, CDs and several genres of new and used books — all memorabilia Addy accumulated over 50 years of business.
Addy said he would like to see everything go to keep it from being thrown away. So from noon to 6 p.m. both days, customers can grab everything and anything they find — for free.
And did they ever. The line was out the door on Tuesday, and many of the shelves were stripped bare long before 6 p.m.
“I told people to bring their own boxes and bags — bring a truck if you want. I just can’t bring myself to get a dumpster and take these books and throw them away,” he said.
Ed Pliml and daughter Danny arrived just before noon, when the line wrapped around the corner. They left with a cart stacked with magazines, VHS tapes and books.
“We got a lot of Rolling Stone,” he said. “I grabbed extra copies for some friends and my brother.”
“Usually magazines are out of our price range, but free is not,” Pliml said.
The store offered an eclectic mix of merchandise, most of it used: CDs, cassettes, vinyl, books, magazines, newspapers, videotapes. Some came from yard and garage sales. Others were traded for something else.
After announcing in December the store would go out of business, Addy began selling everything for half price. For the past six weeks, everything has been a dollar. Addy said he hopes his remaining collectibles will go with the giveaway.
“I have eight days to vacate and I was thinking to myself, basically, what’s the best way to get rid of (the stock)? And figured I’d just give it away — give back to the community.”
Addy also will donate items to Thorek Memorial Hospital and Howard Brown Clinic.
It will be difficult to see the store come to an end, but the 65-year-old owner said he is ready to move on to his next chapter in St. Petersburg. A few members of his old band, Pogo Ponies, also will be nearby, and he hopes to start playing with them again.
“The store has been around for 50 years and everybody wants it to stay. I would have liked to see some young people take over the business, but my landlord would like to modernize the space,” said Addy, who has run the place for 30 years. His sister had it for 20 years before that.
Addy said the store has not been touched since 1966; it doesn’t even have air conditioning. Property taxes have risen over the years, but Addy is grateful his landlord has kept the rent low.
“We have a great history in Uptown. Everybody that has gone to the Aragon Ballroom for a rock concert or the Green Mill has stopped by. Lots of famous bands have been through here. There’s nothing like walking into a store and grabbing and book or record and that’s why people will miss us. But it’s time to move on.”
Peter Bates walked out of the store with an assortment of books in his hands.
“I had been here before about five years ago with my wife,” he said. “I’ve wanted to come back, but never got around to it.”
But he didn’t miss the big goodbye.
“I got a biography, a book about global warming, some books about politics and a book about the weather,” Bates said. “Hopefully there’s something here my wife will like.”
Five-year Shake, Rattle & Read customer Ally Murphy said she will miss the store and its vibe.
“It’s been kind of a staple for [me] and a landmark in Uptown. We have a record player and that’s mostly what we bought. It’s sad that it’s moving on,” she said.
Addy said the ending is bittersweet, but he was honored to receive an award from the City Council of Chicago on Friday for his successful business in Uptown.
He will continue to sell music and books through eBay and Amazon.