Long live Val's halla?

Longtime employee intends to continue beloved store

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

It was as much a time for looking forward as it was a time for remembering this weekend at the annual Hallapalooza festival held at Val's halla Records.

Dozens of people turned out to celebrate the life of Val's owner, Val Camilletti, who died on July 24 after being diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.

Patrons young and old remembered Val, who was among Oak Park's most beloved figures for more than four decades, but many wondered what will happen to the store at 239 Harrison St.

Friends of Camilletti recently launched an online fundraiser (https://www.gofundme.com/val-camilletti-memorial-fund) for the late music maven in an effort to support operating costs for the store and help her longtime roommate, who is helping to pay the mortgage costs on Camilletti's house. 

Val's longtime assistant, Shayne Blakeley, who plans to take over the store, said he was "pretty hesitant" to launch the fundraiser, but "my friends, who have been wonderful, would not take no for an answer."

The "Val Camilletti Memorial Fund" page notes that Camilletti "incurred some personal debt to keep the store open."

"This now leaves the feasibility of keeping the store running in question," according to the fundraiser page. 

"Shayne, [who] has been working at the store throughout this ordeal, would like to keep the store open and would love to continue working there to keep Val's dream alive, financially [he] doesn't know if it will be possible."

As of Tuesday, July 31, the fundraiser had just passed its goal of raising $10,000.

Blakeley said in a telephone interview that the outpouring of love for Camilletti and the store was overwhelming at times during the two-day Hallapalooza event.

"It was beautiful," he said. "I lost it a number of times. It was a mix of sad tears and joyous tears throughout the weekend."

He confirmed that Bill Planek, of Oak Park Apartments and Greenplan Management, who owns the building, cleared the back parking lot to make room for the event; Bill Quick, owner of Trattoria 225 restaurant, 225 Harrison St., provided free food; and Bill FitzGerald, owner of FitzGerald's Nightclub, 6615 Roosevelt Road, provided tents and tables.

The three Bills.

"It was absolutely wonderful," Blakeley said. "The place was packed to the gills both days."

Blakeley, who has worked at Val's for the last 17 years, said he aims to keep the store open as long as he can, but there still is a lot of work to do with Camilletti's will and finances.

"I'm coming to work right now until somebody tells me otherwise," he said.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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