In August 2009, I moved into a three-bedroom on Clark a few blocks north of Fullerton, with no clue about Lincoln Park’s cultural position in Chicago. I had grad-school classes in Evanston and the Loop, so the neighborhood seemed to make sense—it was more or less in between the two. I felt out of place amid the college football fans crammed into sports bars along Clark, the drunk DePaul students stampeding Five Guys and the Wieners Circle after midnight, and the tony white-collar workers in their million-dollar homes. I lived in a cheap, shabby apartment, and I cherished anything subversive that survived in the cracks in the neighborhood’s facade. 

That December, I discovered the storefront windows of a nearby record shop. In an eclectic display of Christmas-themed album covers, I spotted a record by King Diamond, who was pictured in his trademark corpsepaint, thumbing his nose, sticking out his tongue, and cozying up to a reindeer with ribbons in its antlers. The disc was a 1985 12-inch called “No Presents for Christmas,” and the shop was Dave’s Records. Nothing else in the neighborhood spoke to me the way it did.

Dave Crain opened his shop at 2604 N. Clark on Labor Day in 2002. Since day one, Crain sold only vinyl, which was never an easy proposition. By the early 2000s the format had been in a decades-long decline, and according to RIAA figures, vinyl sales in 2002 were roughly 0.36 percent of the music industry’s total revenue—a $45.4 million sliver of a $12.6 billion haul. Before Record Store Day helped alert major industry players to the newfound niche value of wax, people buying vinyl were participating in a subculture, whether they thought of it that way or not. Dave’s Records offered those true believers a world to explore.

On election day 2022, when Crain announced he was closing the store, he hadn’t yet chosen a final day. He knew he had to remove all evidence of the shop’s existence from the space by January 1, when his lease would be over. When I first reported on the end of Dave’s Records in mid-November, I asked Crain if the Reader could document the store’s final day, whenever that turned out to be. I wanted to know who would travel from far and wide to pay their respects and who might casually wander in off the street. One thing I love about brick-and-mortar record shops is that you never know who you’ll meet and how they might reshape your world as a listener, even if all they do is recommend a seven-inch you’ll play a few times and then forget. The possibility of those interactions, as much as the vinyl itself, keeps me invested in record shops.

Dave’s Records closed for good Sunday, December 18. I swung by on the Friday before to pick up a few records and chat with Crain, but I couldn’t make it out that last day. Fortunately, photographer and Reader contributor Kathleen Hinkel was free, and she went to Dave’s to capture the scene during its final hours. She emerged with a touching document of the loose community that coalesced around Dave’s Records, where all kinds of folks—young parents, local music legends, former Chicagoans visiting for the holidays—navigated the tight aisles in search of buried treasure. The store is gone, but we still have our records—and Hinkel’s record of its farewell. —Leor Galil

Photo captions by Kathleen Hinkel

A sign on the door at beloved Lincoln Park record store Dave’s Records bears a quote from the Tom Waits song “I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love With You,” from his 1973 album Closing Time. “Now it’s closing time, the music’s fading out / Last call for drinks, I’ll have another stout.”

Sixty-three-year-old Dave Crain, the shop’s owner, poses for a portrait just after closing its door for the final time on Sunday, December 18, 2022. The shop had been open since 2002.

“There’s nothing quieter than a record store with no music on,” Crain said earlier that day. A record had just ended, so he immediately marched to the turntable and put on “Le Freak” by Chic. 7:19 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Dave Crain poses with his son, 31-year-old Sam Crain, just after closing the door of Dave’s Records for the final time. Sam said it was “touching to see how many people came out” for the store’s last day. 7:20 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Dave Crain stocks the 2014 album Say Yes to Love by punk band Perfect Pussy in the hardcore section at Dave’s Records, just before the store opened at noon on its final day. 11:47 AM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Another sign on the door at Dave’s Records reads, “NO CD’S: NEVER HAD ’EM! NEVER WILL!!” Owner Dave Crain, pictured here stocking records in the window of the shop, was completely committed to vinyl. 2:51 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Dave’s Records is packed just after opening for the final time on Sunday, December 18, 2022. 12:27 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Dave’s Records stands empty shortly before opening on its last day. 11:36 AM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
“I knew that this place was closing, and this is the last day, so I’m seeing if there’s any deals before these [records] go to other shops,” said 25-year-old Marley, a former Chicago resident visiting from Los Angeles. 12:22 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Dave’s Records was busy all day when it opened for the final time on Sunday, December 18, 2022. 2:26 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
When asked how he came to be browsing the stacks at Dave’s Records during its final hour on Sunday night, venerated Chicago-based producer the Twilite Tone, 53, responded: “It’s history and legacy, culture. It’s indigenous and impactful to who and what I am.” 6:17 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Twenty-six-year-old Zanthia Dwight (right) and 50-year-old Lisa Schrader (left) browse during the final day at Dave’s Records. 2:20 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Zanthia Dwight flips through the vinyl at Dave’s Records. 2:20 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Even before the official opening time of noon, Dave Crain had already started letting customers into Dave’s Records on its final day. One such customer was 38-year-old Ryan Carlsen, left, who came in search of jazz and blues. 11:41 AM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
A customer flips through vinyl at Dave’s Records. 2:33 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Owner Dave Crain works with his son, Sam Crain, behind the counter of Dave’s Records. 12:55 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Forty-three-year-old Chris Gibson leaves Dave’s Records with a stack of records he bought on the shop’s final day. “I’ve lived in Chicago eight years, and I’ve been coming here for six or seven,” he said. “This is my fourth visit since I found out they were closing.” 12:57 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Dave Crain works the register at Dave’s Records on the store’s last day. 2:37 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Dave Crain at the register 2:12 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
When asked what brought them to Dave’s Records on the store’s final day, 25-year-old Madison Smith said, “I’ve been coming here for a couple years. Every time I come in, it’s a personal experience.” 2:12 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Owner Dave Crain works with his son, Sam Crain, behind the counter of Dave’s Records during the shop’s final hour. 6:09 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Vinyl at Dave’s Records, including a copy of the 2022 Roky Erickson & the Explosives release Halloween II: Live 2007 6:09 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
A stack of vinyl at Dave’s Records, including a Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab edition of Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True 6:09 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
A Dave’s Records customer holds a copy of the 1985 Neil Young single “Get Back to the Country” b/w “Misfits.” 12:44 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Chicago musician John Perrin, 30, has played drums in NRBQ since 2015. He said he’s been coming to Dave’s Records for a decade, and he came to browse the store in the first hour of its final day. 12:59 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
John Perrin talks to Dave’s Records owner Dave Crain while holding a copy of the Tom Waits album Alice, which came out in 2002—the year Dave’s opened. 12:16 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Dave Crain checks the shelves at Dave’s Records. 2:12 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Twenty-five-year-old Zac Veitch browses records while his two-year-old, Tomás, watches a video on his phone on his dad’s shoulders. 2:42 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
“I love records,” said 46-year-old Nick Neitzman, browsing Dave’s Records on its final day. “I used to live in the neighborhood, and I spent many hours buying records here. It’s a bummer.” 2:53 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Thirty-two-year-old Arthur Tylka said he was “out for beers with my buddy, and he knew this place was closing, so we both came by.” He’s holding a copy of Seth MacFarlane’s 2011 debut album, Music Is Better Than Words. 6:02 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid,” said 21-year-old Jack Ioizzo, who lives in the neighborhood. 12:41 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
The exterior of Dave’s Records on Sunday, December 18, 2022 1:03 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Fifty-year-old Lisa Scrader’s haul at Dave’s Records included Walt Whitman poetry records as well as David Bowie vinyl. 12:41 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Dave Crain at work 6:07 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Twenty-six-year-old Tyler Hunt moved to Chicago a few weeks ago and happened to drop into Dave’s while record shopping on the store’s final day. 6:07 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Dave Crain talks with musicians DJ Rude One, left, and the Twilite Tone, right. The Twilite Tone is probably most famous as Common’s DJ and producer during the 90s, but he was already an important driver in Chicago’s hip-hop scene as a teenager in the late 80s. 7:04 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Dave Crain right after closing his beloved Lincoln Park record shop, Dave’s Records, for the final time 7:05 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Dave Crain shakes hands with a customer, 41-year-old Sarah Hamilton, at closing time. 7:11 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Dave Crain just after closing time 7:18 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
Dave Crain gives his son, Sam Crain, a kiss on the cheek after closing the door of his beloved Lincoln Park record shop for the final time. 7:20 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader
The valedictory Tom Waits quote on the door at Dave’s Records took on a special meaning on Sunday, December 18, 2022, when the shop closed for good after 20 years in business. 7:56 PM Credit: Kathleen Hinkel for Chicago Reader

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