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In what initially looked like yet another depressing sign of the declining music marketplace, last week Dr. Wax in Hyde Park announced that it would be shutting down at the end of August. The Dr. Wax in Edgewater closed this past winter, making the Hyde Park store the last outpost of the enterprise long owned by Sam Greenberg. (Full disclosure: for a couple years back in the late 80s I worked for a Dr. Wax in Lincoln Park.) The loss of the Hyde Park location would be a major blow to the area, leaving Borders as the primary retailer of non-used music. Obviously that’s not a good situation, particularly considering the manner in which Dr. Wax tailors its merchandise to the neighborhood. Longtime staffers Charles Williams and Duane Powell have made the store one of the most important sources for neo-soul and hip-hop in the city, breaking new artists long before they reach the broader populace.
Because business was bad, last spring Greenberg tried to renegotiate his rent with his landlord of 15 years, Harper Court Foundation, asking to pay $2,000 monthly rather than the $3,000 on the lease. Greenberg submitted a document and got no response one way or the other, so he began to pay the reduced figure. As things started picking up earlier this year he increased his payments to $2,200. In June the HCF told him they wanted all $15,000 in back rent. Since Greenberg didn’t have it they mutually agreed to terminate the lease at the end of August. Greenberg spent a month looking for another location to no avail, so last week he announed the closing. But the store’s loyal customers aren’t taking it laying down. A customer named Marcus Davis, for example, started an online petition; in just over a week it’s already attracted nearly 1,000 names and loads of impassioned commentary from supporters.
More importantly, in the last few days Greenberg has been contacted by numerous property owners—including the University of Chicago—with spaces for him to check out. “It looks like we’ll be staying open,” Greenberg told me today. Sometimes things turn out well.
Today's playlist:Joe Henry, Civilians (Anti-)