After nearly a decade selling music in Logan Square, Logan Hardware quietly said good-bye last month. After a big sale the weekend of Record Store Day, according to owner John Ciba, “We didn’t open back up again.” Before abandoning its space on 2532 W. Fullerton, the store will host one final blowout sale on Sunday, May 20, followed by a pop-up sale at nearby Logan Arcade on Wednesday, May 30. When Ciba decribes his decision to close the store, he invokes Lee “Scratch” Perry, who burned his legendary Black Ark studio in 1979 because it had “bad energy.” “The only thing he could do was burn it down,” Ciba says. “That’s kind of where we’re at.”
In November 2009, when Logan Hardware soft launched at its original 2410 W. Fullerton location, it became the first contemporary record store to open in Logan Square; Saki Records and Bucket o’ Blood Records opened in the neighborhood in spring 2010. Bucket o’ Blood Records changed ownership and moved to Avondale in summer 2015, and Saki closed in late 2016. With Logan Hardware closed, the neighborhood’s best-known shops aren’t in Logan Square proper. Bric-a-Brac Records is technically in Avondale, as is Record Breakers, which last fall left its space above Reggie’s Rock Club on the near south side and relocated to Avondale near Logan Square. (Disco City, a Latinx music shop right by the Logan Square Blue Line station, has been going strong since 1976.)
“The neighborhood’s changed so much,” Ciba says—and he’s not just talking about its prospects for buying and selling records. Nearby neighborhood fixture Quenchers, for example, will close in June, six months or so after owner Earle Johnson put the building on the market. Logan Hardware used to face a couple run-down residential buildings—the one on the corner of Fullerton and Maplewood had one of my favorite pieces of neighborhood street art, with JC Rivera’s Bear Champ character boxing Ali 6’s Richie the Raccoon. Those buildings were razed after a six-story mixed-use building got its construction permits last August; the new building will cost an estimated $2.1 million to build, and according to DNAinfo the rent on its 19 apartments will be $2,500 per month. “It’s better to go out this way now, the neighborhood the way it is, than keep doing it for six months, a year, two years,” Ciba says.
Logan Hardware was where I’d go to buy records, especially when I wasn’t on the hunt for a specific release. The shop largely dealt in used inventory, though it also carried plenty of new music I had trouble finding elsewhere—a cassette compilation from primo underground punk label Not Normal Tapes, for instance, or the latest from the store’s in-house record label. Digging through the stacks at Logan Hardware could feel like a treasure hunt. The collections were organized by genre and sometimes alphabetically, but beyond that you were on your own—that could be an intimidating prospect, and it was even more so when the store opened its basement, which was stacked with seven-inches from floor to ceiling and in every conceivable crevasse. But I’d rarely leave the shop empty-handed, and I often found more than I expected. Back when I used to go every other week, I’d frequently emerge with a couple cheap emo singles, a stray punk cassette comp, or an armload of unloved but charming private-press LPs. More recently I liked to pick up obscure Dance Mania singles that looked like they’d spent a couple decades in the basement of label owner Ray Barney.
Logan Hardware was also where I found like-minded listeners. I’ve found loose communities at other record stores, but I’ll miss the one that formed at Logan Hardware. Ciba had a knack for connecting people, even in the shop’s waning months—he recently introduced me to house producer DJ Emanuel, who’d released music on the Relief, Contact, and Trax labels in the 90s. I stopped by the storefront Sunday afternoon to find it closed. Full record crates were stacked up by the door, and potted plants sat in the windows facing Fullerton where rows of seven-inches once stood. The neighborhood had changed again.