Val's halla not closing after all

River Forest resident swoops in to save record store, for now

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

Music-loving hearts broke throughout Oak Park and the surrounding area earlier this month after the general manager of beloved record store Val's halla, 239 Harrison St., announced its impending closure in a Facebook post.

"It breaks my heart to announce this but unfortunately Val's halla will be closing its doors at the end of the month," the post read on Nov. 2.

A testament to the major impact Val's had on the community, news outlets all over the metro area reported on the announcement. People lamented that, with the end of Val's, came the end of an era.

But, those mourning Val's can now rejoice, as the store will not be closing after all. General Manager Shayne Blakeley revealed the good news on Nov. 15 on Facebook, writing, "Rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated! Val's halla is getting a new lease on life!"

Blakeley credits loyal customer and River Forest resident Trevor Toppen for coming to the record store's rescue, calling him the store's "guardian angel." Toppen's son helps out at the store.

"I have a lot to be thankful for," said Blakeley. "It's a Thanksgiving miracle."

According to Blakeley, Toppen couldn't bear to see Val's halla end in such an "unceremonious" fashion because it "means too much to too many people."

The debt-laden record store isn't completely out of the woods yet. Blakeley said he and Toppen plan to work together to keep costs down and streamline the business.

Blakeley said Val's halla needs the help of the community to ensure that Toppen's intervention doesn't become just a temporary reprieve from closure for the store. Its future depends on its fan base.

"The onus is on the community," said Blakeley. "Put your money where your mouth is."

This post has been edited to fix a minor typo.

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Reader Comments

11 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Comment Policy

Diane Krstulovich from North Riverside  

Posted: November 20th, 2019 1:06 PM

Vinyl has never left! You can now buy a turntable with a Bluetooth speaker. Also connect your CD Player to a Bluetooth speaker so EVERYONE can hear it! Excellent ways to play cassette tapes, too. Music always finds more ways to be part of our lives! Looking forward to more LIVE music at Vals Halla. Love your ideas!

Jim King  

Posted: November 17th, 2019 7:09 AM

Moved away from Oak Park before Val's opened; but whenever in the village I would stop in. Val was a treat to visit with and I'd take notes when she made artist suggestions to me.

Paul Barile  

Posted: November 17th, 2019 1:28 AM

Your stories would have more impact if you had a proofreader.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: November 16th, 2019 4:45 PM

Fritz Richter There are lots of older equipment available that has been refurbished. Maybe there will be sellers who would be interested in offering an item on consignment

Fritz Richter  

Posted: November 16th, 2019 3:27 PM

Imagine if they had refurbished vintage stereo receivers!

Jolyn Crawford  

Posted: November 16th, 2019 12:48 PM

Does my heart good!

Tim Lane  

Posted: November 16th, 2019 12:03 PM

What a great idea to sell refurbished record players. I sure do wish I kept my suitcase record player from the 70's...man that thing cranked. I would buy one and restart my record collection.

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: November 16th, 2019 9:12 AM

According to reports that I have seen, young people have started buying more vinyl than CDs. Are they selling enough newer records? I know they have a lot of used records.

Elaine Abbinante from north riverside,IL  

Posted: November 16th, 2019 9:10 AM

glad to hear this great news. Altho I didn't frequent the store much, I enjoyed Val's presence and the store stock. Bravo nice man and son.

Elizabeth Titus Rexford from Oak Park  

Posted: November 15th, 2019 7:52 PM

Yes, great idea to sell equipment. Recently, our granddaughter was shopping for a trendy item: the suitcase record player. Also, if we want to keep Val's, we need to go in and buy something: remember, Christmas is coming and we might be able to knock a few items off our lists by just walking in there!

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: November 15th, 2019 5:03 PM

This is great news. What I would suggest is you also sell equipment to play what you sell. You can find lesser expensive equipment to get people back into records and they can build up a stereo system at home where music can be enjoyed. Be creative on what you sell so it makes it easy for everyone

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