#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 82 with Mark Liberson of Replay and Elixir

This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Mark Liberson, President of LKH Management, and owner of Replay and Elixir restaurants. At Replay Andersonville, you are invited to unwind and enjoy delicious food and beverages and leave feeling better than you did when you arrived. With 22 vintage video arcade games, and over 20 craft beers on draft. Elixir, which is right around the corner, is an inviting intimate lounge that celebrates the ‘art of cocktail.’ You can visit Replay at 5358 N Clark, and Elixir at 1509 W Balmoral.

Mark Liberson of LKH Group, and Replay and Elixir Andersonville. Photo by Anjali Pinto for the 2019-20 neighborhood guide.

Mark Liberson of LKH Group, and Replay and Elixir Andersonville. Photo by Anjali Pinto for the 2019-20 neighborhood guide.

“Don’t be afraid to know what you don’t know. The strength of a business and it’s future has less to do with the individual and more to do with the team. And, always enjoy what you’re doing. If you don’t enjoy it, do something else because you’re not doing the right thing. Have fun!”
-Mark Liberson

Listen to Episode 82 with Mark Liberson!

Here are some references from Episode 82 that you may want to check out:

  • Mark has been in the hospitality industry almost his entire professional life, first working for Levy Restaurants and Hilton Hotels. He decided to venture out on his own, beginning with creating a Chicago-based magazine called You Are Chicago with big events, where he met lots of people in the club scene who encouraged him to open his own club, so he did. He decided that if he was going to open his own club, he would create something for the gay community, and thus Hydrate Night Club was born in 2002.
  • Opening his first night club, Mark learned how, on a deeper level, the gay community is exciting and diverse. They appreciate when you appreciate them, especially when one is supportive of the things that are important to them. One of the priorities during opening Hydrate was to support the gay community through philanthropy, sports, and social endeavors – to do more than provide simply a night club. This practice continues to this day. Mark’s businesses sponsor many events, with specific focus right now on opening a dental clinic in partnership with Howard Brown on the North Side for those who don’t have access to insured dental care. He remarks that many people may have health insurance but not dental, and that dental health is vital to overall health. There is a Howard Brown dental clinic on the South Side, but the North Side needs one. Fundraising is underway, and if you’d like to support you can do so here.
  • Replay and Elixir also have locations in Boystown/Lakeview. Mark chose Andersonville as a second location because he loves the area, and used to walk through often when he lived in Uptown. With Replay, he aimed to bring a place to go, have great food, watch sports, and play games. Then he added Elixir, the lounge, an upscale, premium craft cocktail alternative. Patrons can access each business through each other. The same being true of the Lakeview locations (Hydrate/Elixir).
Replay is located at 5358 N Clark. Photo by Anjali Pinto for the 2019-20 Neighborhood Guide.

Replay is located at 5358 N Clark. Photo by Anjali Pinto for the 2019-20 Neighborhood Guide.

  • In Boystown, Elixir is currently decked out for Halloween as Diagon Alley from Harry Potter. Elixir Lakeview is unique and reflects the unique managing, with a different style. Unique to Andersonville, Elixir features recurring music programming. The first Monday features two drag queens singing a la Alexis Bevels and Dixie Cartwright – they are so talented and funny! We discovered them at Midsommarfest. Watch the windows and table-tops for promos.
  • In Andersonville, there are so many families in the neighborhood, which led them to come up with a schedule similar to a swimming pool of “adult swim” and “kids swim.” Everything is clear on the website, and it has worked well. And of course, they are always dog friendly on the patio. Replay offers many different ways to draw a diverse audience, with one example being they brought in the sous chef from Girl and the Goat. They really want their space to be a reflection of Andersonville, where everyone is welcome and can have a good time.
  • On to video games. Mark, a video game fanatic, tries to pick the most popular games available for Replay. As a kid, he demanded quarters from his dad and escaped to the arcade. It’s so fun to watch adults teach their kids the games they loved…only to lose to their kids! And younger generations, who weren’t exposed as kids, but enjoy it. All the video games are free, by the way! Galaga is one of Mark’s favorites. Other machines that are fan favorites are Ms. Pacman, Donkey Kong, a Star Wars game and pinball games. They also have driving games. (Which coincidentally, is how Laura learned how to drive.)
Galaga at Replay. Photo by Anjali Pinto for the 2019-20 Neighborhood Guide.

Arcade games at Replay. Photo by Anjali Pinto for the 2019-20 Neighborhood Guide.

  • Back to food menu, Replay’s menu was recently updated, featuring guest chef Dirk Flanigan, most recently of The Gage. Mark has known him for years, and knew that his style along with Replay executive Chef Bernardo would work well together. They’ve brought together great flavors, a few favorites being curry ribs, a curry cauliflower appetizer (which was featured during Taste of Andersonville). They offer new vegetarian dishes, new hamburgers. New items are printed in red on their menu.
  • Favorite cocktails at Elixir created by their mixologist, who can create on the fly – you don’t have to order off the menu. Watch for a new menu this fall in Andersonville, and right now at Elixir in Lakeview they are featuring their Harry Potter inspired cocktails.
  • Being a seasoned bar and restaurant entrepreneur, Mark sees the industry as remaining competitive, which means that it’s important to be constantly moving forward and keeping everything interesting and fresh. The industry has become more accessible to more people, which creates another level of competition because there are more options. He sees Andersonville as a shining star because of all it offers with retail, dining options and more. Mark is dedicated to the advancement of both Lakeview and Andersonville neighborhoods, sits on the Board for both Chambers, and is proud of the efforts of their efforts.
Craft beer at Replay.

Craft beer at Replay.

  • Mark’s biggest piece of advice to a young entrepreneur looking to get into the bar/restaurant business: Run for your life! Hahaha! No, it is this – Don’t be afraid to know what you don’t know. The strength of a business and it’s future has less to do with the individual and more to do with the team. And looking back, advice to himself 17 years ago would be to relax and enjoy. Always enjoy what you’re doing. If you don’t enjoy it, do something else because you’re not doing the right thing. Have fun!
  • Mark has traveled all over the world with the mantra “see it before you leave it.” He’s planning an upcoming event in Puerto Vallarta. He has also loved Singapore, night club parties in Bangkok, street food tours in Vietnam, opera in Sydney to name a few. He has experienced amazing night club parties while traveling with DJ and producer Ralphie Rosario (grammy-nominated, has a street sign in front of Hydrate) in Bangkok when he was spinning with Abel. Combined to be “Rosabel.” Looking forward, Mark has plans to visit South African wine country.
  • If Mark had the opportunity to switch places with another Andersonville business for a day it would be George’s Sweets and Treats, for all the wrong reasons! He’s a chocolate ice cream fanatic! But, it’s hard to pick just one, he would also love to walk into the shoes of Women & Children First and Vincent, Calo, so many. But truly, he enjoys them as they are and loves being a guest. If he could do anything else with his life, he would go into law. As a lawyer, maybe he could make a difference in society.
Mark stopped in at George's Ice Cream and Sweets after the podcast recording.

Mark stopped in at George’s Ice Cream and Sweets after the podcast recording.

Find Replay and Elixir in Andersonville on the following platforms:
Online: replayandersonville.com and elixirandersonville.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/replayandersonville
Instagram: @replayandersonville
Twitter: @ReplayAville
Support Howard Brown’s Dental Health Program: howardbrown.org/donate-dental

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 81 with Karen Rose of City Olive

This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Karen Rose, owner of City Olive. City Olive is a specialty olive oil and gourmet food boutique where you can enjoy an exquisite selection of the finest estate bottled extra virgin olive oils and locally made artisan products from around the world at 5644 N. Clark.

Karen Rose and Laura in Studio C recording #Always Andersonville: The Podcast.

Karen Rose and Laura in Studio C recording #Always Andersonville: The Podcast.

“Olive oil is the perfect gift, and it does last longer than a bottle of wine.”
-Karen Rose

Listen to Episode 81 with Karen Rose!

Here are some references from Episode 81 that you may want to check out:

  • City Olive has been in Andersonville since 2007, and prior to that, Karen was a registered nurse for many years. She has a passion for healthy food, travel, and cooking and wanted to try something different, combine her passions, and maintain her love of promoting healthy living. While traveling in Spain, she noticed olive oil was everywhere and had significant health benefits, but back in the States she saw that good olive oil was hard to find.
  • The deciding factor to open a small business came after lots of research on the health benefits of olive oil, and emailing producers in Europe and California. She came to a point where she knew she had to do something with all the research she had done, and was contacted by a landlord and moved forward with opening her business. Originally City Olive was at 5408 N Clark and is now at 5644 N Clark. The name City Olive comes from Greek mythology.
  • Olive oil has been surrounded by some controversy. For example, not all oils marked “extra virgin” are necessarily accurate. Estate bottled olive oil allows Karen to follow the entire production process, from tree to mill, and can be as little as 2-12 hours. It is minimally processed, with no heat or chemical use. Also, the storage and purchase process minimize contamination, which prevents the oil from becoming rancid.
A wide array of products available at City Olive.

A wide array of products available at City Olive.

  • Karen brought some oil to taste on air, which you’ll just have to experience yourself at her location in person! In terms of selection, Karen works with only the highest reputable importers, and does some importing herself. Some producers have come directly to City Olive, including a Lebanese producer, Oleavanti, who brought their product to present at Andersonville Arts Week. O-Med is also another producer City Olive carries, outside of Granada, Spain. In this episode, Karen brings Tondo from Sicily. Her customers meet the producers, and have even gone so far as to visit the estates!
  • The way City Olive does tastings, is first – without bread. Like wine, you want to taste it by itself. A good piece of bread will mask a bad oil. City Olive uses green apple, which has just enough tartness to cleanse the palate. They use little blue glasses, so that the color isn’t a determinate of the quality of the oil (color can be manipulated.)
  • Tasting process: Hold it in your hand to warm it slightly. Smell it and take in the aroma. Take it and slurp it into your mouth covering your entire palate. SLURP! If there is a little heat or bite, those are the polyphenols.
Tasting in the studio! Slurp!

Tasting in the studio! Slurp!

  • When buying olive oil, look for not only the best by date, but the harvest date. And make sure to use it! Karen shares that in Greece, the average consumption of olive oil is 17-20 litres per person, per year! The average American uses less than 1 litre. And, olive oil isn’t just for cooking, you can bake with it too. Karen makes an olive oil cake that you can find on her website. You can convert butter to olive oil.
  • When storing your olive oil, always store in a cold, dark space with the lid on. The enemies of olive oil are heat, sunlight and air. Most keep it by the stove – but don’t! Many bottles come with tamper proof lids. City Olive also carries Gary Jackson handmade containers, great for a beautiful presentation. Otherwise, keep it in the container it came in with a tight seal.
  • As a nurse, Karen reminds that olive oil has significant health benefits and has links to articles on the City Olive website from the Harvard Journal of Public Health and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. She also encourages a plant-based diet, and to pay attention to labels (is sugar or salt the first ingredient?)
  • Difficulties that the olive oil industry (as well as cheese and wine) face right now are tariffs. (European retaliatory tariffs…which are still undecided. If these tariffs go through, there will be a 100% mark-up on products. You can call your representatives, Congresswoman Shakowsky, Senator Durbin to voice your opinion.) California produces great oils, but only provides 5% of the nation’s consumption.
Olive oil producers Oleavanti from Lebanon, sharing their work at Andersonville Arts Week + Fest 2019.

Olive oil producers Oleavanti from Lebanon, sharing their work at Andersonville Arts Week + Fest 2019.

  • If Karen could trade businesses with any other Andersonville business, it would be with Scott Martin because of all the interesting people he must encounter who come in at Simon’s (5210 N Clark) and Svea (5236 N Clark). Scott’s favorite olive oil is Omed and he could definitely sell oil as well!

Find City Olive on the following platforms:
Online: cityolive.com
Facebook: facebook.com/oliveoilchicago
Instagram: @cityolive
Twitter: @cityolive

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 80 with Winifred Gundeck of Winifred Grace

This week, Laura and Heather are joined by Winifred Gundeck, owner of Winifred Grace. Winifred Grace is a lifestyle boutique featuring handmade jewelry, apparel, vintage goods and home accessories and has recently just moved south a couple doors to 5632 N. Clark.

Winnie, owner of Winifred Grace located at 5632 N Clark.

Winnie, owner of Winifred Grace located at 5632 N Clark. Come join her for their Grand Re-Opening on Friday, October 4!

“Chicago is just so awesome, and particularly our neighborhood. I love it so much, it’s such a great village and I’m REALLY excited we’re part of it and that my business is here. And our customers – they are just so nice. I feel really lucky.”
-Winnie Gundeck

Listen to Episode 80 with Winnie Gundeck!

Here are some references from Episode 80 that you may want to check out:

  • Winnie grew up in Miami, FL and Atlanta, GA and moved to Chicago in 2000. Her previous profession was in graphic design. She lives in Andersonville with her husband, 7 year old son Alex, and their dog.
  • In 2003, Winifred Grace began as a jewelry line while still working in graphic design. She started by showing her work at small events, and then on to wholesaling, which she did for 11 years. She quit her graphic design job, and embarked on a new career where she participated in trade shows a year and sold to boutiques. Winnie began making the jewelry herself, and eventually grew to work with artisans who created pieces based on her designs.She loves the design process the most! Something unique they offered were custom stamped pendants, made to order within 30 minutes or less. (Which they still offer.)
  • Finding a balance in her life between her business and family, Winnie decided to open her shop on Clark. She didn’t have any experience opening a business, but knew she had to take advantage of having a great busy street location.After a successful opening weekend, she knew she made the right decision. Daniel, owner of Roost, helped by suggesting they fill space with movable walls.
Winifred Grace's beautiful interior.

Winifred Grace’s beautiful interior.

  • A major highlight and achieved goal is that Winnie’s jewelry line was carried by Anthropologie, and was featured in the catalog and online. Anthropologie served as inspiration for Winnie, the layout, design, and especially the level of customer service their staff provides. In fact, she was so impressed with their staff that she saw and opportunity – and now one of them works with her at Winifred Grace.
  • About 11 years ago, at her friend Jamie made a recommendation, Amanda. Winnie would create the prototype for orders, and Amanda would fill the rest. A little later, as volume grew, she found a workshop in a small town in  Mexico that provides work for women by teaching them how to make jewelry, sell it, and in turn support their families. She contacted them, and sent off her basic drawings, which were then turned into beautiful pieces of jewelry. When packages arrived, it was better than she had ever imagined! They have been working together now for 7 years, and it transformed her business.
  • Winifred Grace also carries other lines of jewelry, as she began to design less and expand her retail space more. She likes to focus on local designers – Morgan Reed, Le Kaiser (fine jewelry and every day pieces). Winnie sometimes chooses based on what she likes, but really focuses on what her customer likes. She pays attention to who shops there.
Jewelry by La Kaiser.

Jewelry by La Kaiser.

  • Winnie shares that her customers are often practical, not cheap – but looks for value, and needs every day pieces to create a great wardrobe with a few special pieces. She is also acutely aware that providing apparel for people is deeply personal and acknowledges that as bodies change over time, it can be difficult to find clothing that not only fits well, but makes someone feel good.
  • As a result, Winifred Grace offers free 1-hour styling sessions in the winter. These sessions are private, include “blind measurements” that aren’t shared with the customer, and research to help people find what kind of styles suit their body type the best.
  • Similar to her clothing service, she offers home styling in the winter. Interior design comes naturally (which you can see in all her spaces!), and during last winter’s polar vortex, she had the idea to offer interior styling sessions. Her sessions are 3 hours, and she works with what you have. It’s a way to breathe new life into spaces. She loves discovering treasure that people already have, and incorporating them in a new way.
  • Winnie has a great Instagram and amazing selfies! Follow @winifredgrace. She hates having her picture taken, but has learned from a social media consultant that when you (the business owner) are in the pictures, your followers engage so much more. So, she has worked at it and grown her following. She also learned that it’s important to make your online presence personal and share stories for people to connect with. It’s an extension of your store! She views that sharing content that is genuine and even imperfect, that is what people connect with. And, you’ll learn, it’s apparent from her posts that family is extremely important to her.
  • Speaking of family, her father was a cautious but outgoing person, who once sold Apple computers door to door. Winnie adored her father, and wishes he could have seen her opening the business. Her mother has a Master’s in social work, has had her own practice, and is now in real estate (not so different from social work sometimes!) In particular, Winnie’s grandmother was truly an artist and inspiration, who always encouraged her to make things with her hands and be creative. Winnie always felt connected to her, and feels that she channels her style and persona.
  • If there’s something Winnie could tell her 5-years-ago self it is that “Making mistakes and taking risks is part of living and growing. Don’t get too attached to things, and move on from them when they aren’t working.” And, it’s important to be able to say “I don’t know,” and “I need help.” She finds that being authentic and vulnerable to a certain degree, allows you to connect with people. Especially with staff! She also prides herself with being honest with people in a helpful way – a trait that serves well in retail.
  • If Winnie could trade places with any other Andersonville business, it would be George’s Ice Cream or Norcross and Scott with Amanda. She loves the store, and she loves ice cream. She loves basic flavors, and her son loves anything with food coloring in it! Oh, and the toy store (Toys et Cetera) is amazing!
  • “Chicago is just so awesome, and particularly our neighborhood. We (my family) do not have to get in the car! I walk to work. We eat in the neighborhood all the time – George’s, Alley Cat Comics, the bookstores (Uncharted, Women & Children First), Forever Yogurt, Octavio, Lady Gregory’s. I love it so much, it’s such a great village and I’m REALLY excited we’re part of it and that my business is here. And our customers – they are just so nice. I feel really lucky.”

Find Winifred Grace on the following platforms:
Online: www.winifredgrace.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/winifredgracechicago/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/winifredgrace/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/wgundeck/

Halloween in Andersonville

Halloween 2018 Email Header

Halloween is a great time to explore our neighborhood, with lots of activities for kids and families, and adults! See below for a list of event happenings.

Please continue to check back for schedule updates.

Saturday, October 26

Andersonville Halloween Parade | Saturday, October 26 at 10AM: The 48th Ward  and ETNA Block Club (Edgewater Triangle Neighbor Association) will team up this year for the annual Halloween Parade!  This year’s event will take a costumed stroll from Peirce Elementary School to Gethsemane Garden Center on Saturday, October 27. Meet at the playground at Peirce (1423 W Bryn Mawr) beginning at 10AM. The parade steps off at 11AM!

Annual Children’s Fall Festival | Saturday, October 26 from 10AM-4PM:  Join the folks at Gethsemane Garden Center for the annual Children’s Fall Festival! For the spookiest time, attend the event in your favorite Halloween Costume.

Trick or Treating along Clark Street & Costume Contest | Saturday, October 26 from 12-3PM: Get your costumes ready for Trick-or-Treating in the Andersonville business district! AlleyCat Comics will once again be hosting this sweet event by offering a costume contest with celebrity judges Alderman Andre Vasquez and Bambi Banks. Check in for the contest begins at 11:30AM and lasts throughout the day with a winner selected at 3:30PM.

We are looking for Crossing Guards to help our costumed kiddos cross the street for trick or treating from 12-3PM. Click here to sign-up and let us know your favorite candy!

Thriller Ruby & GG 2018

The Gus Giordano Dance School performers “Thriller” on Saturday, October 26.

Gus Giordano Dance School | Saturday, October 26 from 3-3:45PM:
Thriller Flash Mob Returns! Keep an eye out for “Zombie Dancers” from Gus Giordano Dance School! The dancers will be performing THRILLER & MONSTER MASH at Clark and Farragut at 3PM. You won’t want to miss their amazing performance.

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 79 with Sarry Yono of SHY Hair Studio

This week, Laura and Heather are joined by Sarry Yono, owner of SHY Hair Studio. Shy Hair Studio respects the difference between each customer’s unique and creative style, and works to adapt both into your life. At SHY Hair Studio they focus on your individual beauty and aesthetic needs, with their undivided attention and commitment and welcome all clients as friends. Come see why and experience why SHY Hair Studio feels like a refreshing at 1528 W Montrose.

Sarry Yono

Sarry with his dog, Lola!

“You’re a person, you’re here to get a haircut, and that’s all. Let’s get to know each other.”
– Sarry Yono 

Listen to Episode 79 with Sarry Yono!

Here are some references from Episode 79 that you may want to check out:

  • Sarry born and raised in the Detroit suburbs and moved to Chicago in 2013. He is first-generation in the US, as his parents were born in Baghdad, Iraq. 
  • He has always loved the beauty industry, and after Paul Mitchell beauty school, moved to Chicago with the dream of starting fresh and starting new after being in school as a psychologist. He’s been a hairstylist now for 10 years. 
  • SHY Hair Studio opened on Montrose four years ago, because he wanted to work for himself, and noticed Chicago clients need physical salons instead of, for example, working out of his own house. Prior, he used to be in Lakeview, and then at Robert Jeffrey in Andersonville (5142 N Clark)  before opening his own business. Sarry also opened his own salon so people can come and feel heard and loved, and make a personal connection.
  • Sarry has worked with certain clients for going on six years, and used to work in Toujours, which was in the Transistor space (5224 N Clark) before it was Transistor. He sees some clients so frequently he knows their life stories well and vice versa.
  • The business name SHY are Sarry’s initials – Sarry Hassan Yono. It’s a play on “Chi,” but he chose SHY because it’s more personal, and funny because Sarry is anything but shy!
SHY logo

SHY Hair Studio’s logo is based on the moon, which is warm and inviting.

  • Sarry opened SHY Hair Studio in just six days! He took a look at the location, called the landlord and took a tour, and liked the space right away and took on a one-year lease. He didn’t have much of a plan, but just went for it. He had clients booked from his previous location and got it going in less than a week. 
  • Sarry loves to change up the feng shui in his salon, and also brings his beloved dog Lola with him to work. People come in to see her just as much to see him! 
  • Since Sarry is our first hairstylist on the podcast, let’s talk about hair! Some of Sarry’s services include keratin treatments and Brazilian blowouts. He believes in embracing texture, and helping to make it easy to style. Keratin and Brazilian treatments reduce blow-dry time as well as 100% of frizz. He also does body waves, which are similar to perms but provide more of a wave instead of curl. Waves are a popular request during summer. He uses natural and vegan products, which allows clients and stylists to receive treatments safely without worry of chemicals going into their bodies. Sarry is the sole stylist, which allows him to really put his client first.  
  • Sarry’s salon is a safe space for everybody, meaning it is a gender non-conforming salon. He cuts hair by length, not by gender. He doesn’t want people to have to identify a gender when calling to make an appointment. Sarry mentions this is also a smart business decision because it allows for prices to be reflected on length. (We all have probably experienced the price difference between “men’s” and “women’s” haircuts, even if the lengths were the same.) 
Client hairstyle 1

One of the many client hair cuts shone on SHY Hair Studio’s Facebook page.

“Something that I’ll never sacrifice is my clients. My business creates a safe space for everybody. I am a gender-non-conforming salon, which means I cut hair by length not by gender.”
– Sarry Yono 

  • Sarry really takes pride in being as inclusive as possible – whether it’s 30 minutes or an hour, he strives to find a way to connect. Often times it’s over food – a way many people bond. He approaches everyone with positive energy. 
  • Connecting with people comes naturally comes naturally for Sarry. He is also a certified yogi through Corepower Yoga. He was encouraged by a client to get back into yoga, and this helps him to connect his body and mind. Especially during a busy day in the salon, focusing on his breath helps him to stay calm and centered. He loves teaching because it allows him to connect with people from all different walks of life, and currently teaches two yoga classes a week. He also recently became a reiki healer, and infuses his shampoos and conditioners with what he affectionately calls “reiki love.” 
  • Does he ever have a cross-over of clients? Yes! And he uses an online booking system to be efficient, but to also prevent walk-ins salon as much as possible. He wants everyone to have dedicated time specifically, and not take away from their experience by having to pause for walk-ins. He does everything himself, from ordering products, answering the phone, to laundry. 
  • In the future, he wants to be in the public eye more and branch out by hiring staff, expanding into a wellness center that offers yoga, massage, and spa treatments all under one roof. Wouldn’t that be wonderful for the city, to have such an inclusive, welcoming  space?
Sarry at work in the salon

Sarry at work in the salon.

  • One way Sarry opens the door for customers to feel open to change is to always ask, “What are we doing today?” Even if they get the same style every time they come in, he never wants them to feel stuck, and gives them an opportunity for change. It communicates that he cares and listens.
  • Sarry joined the Chamber, recommended by his friend Margo who told him about #AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast. He called the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, joined, and loves that things like this podcast and other marketing efforts put him in front of so many other businesses. Day one of beauty school he learned that you have to put yourself out there, an idea he remembered when he joined the this Chamber. 
  • Sarry’s advice to up and coming entrepreneurs: “you just have to go for it.” Don’t hold on to the past, and dedicate your time and effort to your business (or whatever it is that you want). If you’re not happy and want to create change, just remember that people love to hear a great story and want to support it. Go for it. The biggest step is taking a risk, and it’s stressful and a lot of work, but it’s worth it. At the end of the day, do you want to live “coulda woulda shoulda” or do you want to put yourself out there?
  • When asked which Andersonville business he would trade businesses with for a day, Sarry enthusiastically answers: Calo (5343 N Clark)! They are his favorite in the entire city. He loves Italian, loves the atmosphere, the management, and the personalized customer service he receives there sets them apart. 
  • Keep listening to the episode to hear more about soft waves and the evolution of the perm!

Sarry in studio at Transistor’s Studio C.

Find SHY Hair Studio on the following platforms:
Online: shyhairstudio.com
Facebook: facebook.com/shyhairstudiochicago
Instagram: @shyhairstudiochicago


#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 78 with Amy and Hannah Amdur of Amdur Productions

This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by mother-daughter team Amy and Hannah Amdur of Amdur Productions. For over thirty years, Amdur Productions has organized and directed many of the Midwest’s most esteemed juried art festivals. Andersonville is proud to have Amdur as this year’s festival producer for Andersonville Arts Fest which end-caps Andersonville Arts Week + Fest on September 21 and 22 from 10AM-6PM on Clark from Winona to Argyle.

Amy and Hannah Amdur of Amdur Productions.

Amy and Hannah Amdur of Amdur Productions.

“The opportunity for the public to come in and meet the artists and see artwork, is more important now than ever. Freedom of expression is guaranteed in our constitution, but it isn’t a right we should always assume is there.” – Amy Amdur

Listen to Episode 78 with Amy and Hannah Amdur

Here are some references from Episode 78 that you may want to check out:

  • Amy developed a passion for art starting early, at the age of five. Amy watched painters at a nearby art school when running errands with her mom and started painting that very summer. It was a skill she carried through her entire childhood and into school at Northwestern University and the School of the Art Institute. Amy’s first fest was downtown Highland Park 36 years ago, with only 40 artists.
  • Amy’s daughter Hannah just graduated last year from the University of Iowa and started working for her mother and Amdur as the Marketing and Events Manager. Her first festival was the Port Clinton Art Festival at 2 weeks old!
  • Hannah is working to streamline Amdur’s social media, but also taking the time to learn from her mother and take in all aspects of festival production. She also mentions Art Zipper, Amdur’s online e-commerce site that also features juried artists often found at their fests.

    Artist Derek Christensen, who will be showing at Andersonville Arts Fest.

    Artist Derek Christensen, who will be showing at Arts Fest.

  • Over time, Amy has seen the presentation of art displays evolve along with the evolution of the art itself. The field of photography has changed the most dramatically over the years due to the introduction of Photoshop and different kinds of printing mediums like aluminum. Hannah recalls the jury process taking place for Amdur when she was young, using a projector and slides in a rented conference room to bring everyone together.
  • Amy mentions two particular artists that will appear during Andersonville Arts Fest: Derek Christensen and Annette Fiscelli who both focus on upcycled art using recycled materials like license plates and old bicycle parts.
Annette Fiscelli, artist, who will be on display during Arts Fest.

Annette Fiscelli, whose upcycled art will be on display during Arts Fest.

  • Amdur currently produces about 30 events a year. They’ve recently expanded into Wisconsin and Indiana markets as well. Check out all of their festivals here.
  • Amy’s biggest advice when shopping for art is to take a photo of the blank space in your home that you’d like to hang art, maybe even take a few measurements. Then, go to a festival and walk around and take note of the pieces you like and the booth numbers. Take in the entire fest, go sit down and listen to music and have something to eat, and then revisit the art pieces you are still thinking about and speak more with the artists. Some buyers purchase thematically (all black and white photos, all glass, etc.) and others select just one larger piece that over time, will grow into a very unique collection.
  • Amy also encourages buyers to consider setting up a commission with an artist you really enjoy to design a one-of-a-kind, custom piece. Hannah even commissioned a piece for Amy’s birthday a while back.
  • Amy also mentions the Arts Fest bucks that are available on Amdur’s website. These gift cards are accepted by the artists at all Amdur fests, and it’s a great way to give a personal experience along with the gift of art. You can even enter to win Arts Bucks right now for Andersonville Arts Fest on Do312!
Mark Hersch, photographer, whose work will also be on display locally at Transistor (5224 N Clark) after Andersonville Arts Fest.

Mark Hersch, photographer, whose work will also be on display locally at Transistor (5224 N Clark) after Andersonville Arts Fest.

  • Amy sees buyers these days in general caring more about the environment and making a real connection with the artist.
  • Amdur also runs and Arts Fest boot camp. Amy started this series as part of her mentorship to other artists. These are free events a few times a year, where artists come together to ask questions about art display, pricing art and how to sell your work when speaking with customers.
  • Hannah speaks of a photographer, Mark Hersch, who started in his photography career a bit later in life. He came to one of Amdur’s bootcamps to learn where to start, and now many festivals and a book later, he dedicated his book to Amy! Mark’s work will also be on display locally at Transistor (5224 N Clark) after Andersonville Arts Fest.
  • Andersonville Arts Fest September 21-22 will feature more than 100 juried artists including a few selected by Andersonville local businesses. In addition to the art, the fest will feature a Youth Art Area, live music, a performance by Gus Giordano Dance School, food, and beer from Urban Renewal Brewery.
  • If able to switch places with an Andersonville business for a day, Amy would choose to switch with FOURSIDED (5060 N Clark) because of the visual nature and curation aspect of the shop. Hannah would choose to switch places with us, the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, in order to also interview business owners and learn their stories.
  • Hannah asks her mother what her favorite part of the job is: Amy loves the envisioning aspect of a new fest. Amy sees the fest as a vision of a fully active fest, not just a map in the beginning, and she loves the load-in process when everything comes to fruition.

Thank you to Amy and Hannah for joining us today and thank you for listening to Always Andersonville: The Podcast. For more information about Andersonville Arts Fest and Amdur Productions, please visit  please www.andersonville.org/aaw and www.amdurproductions.com. Show notes on today’s episode can be found at andersonville.org.

Find Amdur Productions on the following platforms:
Online: amdurproductions.com
Facebook: facebook.com/amdurproductions
Instagram: @amdurproductions
Twitter: @amdurfestivals

Find Andersonville Arts Week + Fest:
Online: andersonville.org/aaw
On social: #AvilleArts #AndersonvilleArtsFest

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 77 with Frank Uhler of Honore Storage

This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Frank Uhler of Honore Storage. Honore Storage offers secure self-storage in Chicago and is equipped with everything you need to keep your belongings safe. The amenities include newly renovated units, online bill pay, secure facilities, a loading dock, and more. Reserve your storage unit online or over the phone today or visit them at 5147 N Clark.

Frank Uhler, owner of Honore Storage recording Always Andersonville: The Podcast.

Frank Uhler, owner of Honore Storage recording Always Andersonville: The Podcast.

“We have a great staff that works in the (Honore Storage) office, who really pride themselves on working well with people. We have individuals who come in, just to talk to the staff in the office and pretend they have to access their unit. That’s how friendly our staff is.” -Frank Uhler

Listen to Episode 77 with Frank Uhler

Here are some references from Episode 77 that you may want to check out:

  • Frank originally started out as an accountant, then moved to real estate, which led to apartment rentals with Honore Properties, and thus storage facilities. Frank has since moved on from Honore Properties, but still manages other spaces, like new apartment buildings in addition to Honore Storage. He originally looked at the Honore Storage facility with intent to turn it into an apartment building because of its prime location at Clark and Foster. Realizing there is a large demand for storage space in Andersonville, he opened Honore Storage which serves Andersonville and its dense community that can really benefit from access to more storage.
  • Honore Storage used to be Windy City Storage, and some of the changes he made when modernizing the space include: new, climate-controlled storage units, new lighting, a fresh coat of paint, and making sure it’s wheel-chair accessible with an elevator, and building out a friendly front office space. Honore Storage also has a mail and PO box room, which is a complementary offering and makes package delivery easier and more secure for those who live in apartment buildings. Other extra services in addition to storage are a range of moving supplies like boxes, tape, bubble wrap. Business hours are Monday through Friday 9:30am-6:30pm, Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm, and Frank is looking into extending hours in the future. 

    Honore Storage is located in the heart of Andersonville at 5147 N Clark.

    Honore Storage is located in the heart of Andersonville at 5147 N Clark.

  • We can personally attest to how useful Honore Storage is, as the Andersonville Chamber utilizes a 10’ x 20’ storage space. Honore Storage has many sizes available, from as small as 5’x5’x4’, up to 250 square feet (the 10’x20’ – which is 2-3 bedroom house for reference) and every size between. If you aren’t sure what size space you might need, Frank’s website has a tool to help you determine the right size. Also, Honore Storage is very convenient, offering an easy-load-in dock in the back. Best of all, unlike other storage spaces often located off the beaten path, it’s location is easy to access and in the heart of Andersonville. Frank has discovered that the majority of his customers comes from within a 1 mile radius!
  • If you’re curious about what Honore looks like, they were a featured advertorial in the 2018-2019 Andersonville Neighborhood Guide, captured by Anjali Pinto. You’ll be able to see the new storage units and a couple of their great employees. Honore prides itself in their friendly and helpful staff, also featured in the guide.

    The newly renovated Honore Storage and their amazingly friendly staff! Photo by Anjali Pinto for the Andersonville Neighborhood Guide.

    The newly renovated Honore Storage and their amazingly friendly staff! Photo by Anjali Pinto for the Andersonville Neighborhood Guide.

  • Along the lines of “Storage Wars” the tv show, we’re curious to know if Frank has any interesting storage stories. Frank admits that it’s never a good feeling or easy when someone stops paying their storage fee or abandons their stuff. At his location, he has had 1 auction so far. But, no one showed up! So next time, he’ll be sure to let us know and we’ll spread the word through the Andersonville Weekly.
  • Honore Storage is participating in Andersonville Arts Week + Fest, which is next week September 19 through 22. Honore is featuring the artwork of Chris Wiliford, whose medium is collage/upcycled materials. Come check out the art, meet their amazingly friendly staff, and take a tour of Honore while you’re there. Also, believe it or not, the holidays are just around the corner. Make sure to stop by Honore for Andersonville’s Halloween trick or treat, which is Saturday, October 26!
  • If Frank could trade businesses with anyone in Andersonville for a day, it would be Hopleaf Bar, which is just across the street from Honore Storage. As he sits in the front office space of Honore, it’s easy to daydream about walking over and trying their great selection of beer. And, Frank notices that Hopleaf is always crowded – someone any business owner can appreciate.  

Thank you to Frank for joining us today and thank you for listening to Always Andersonville: The Podcast. For more information about Honore Storage please visit www.honorestorage.com. Show notes on today’s episode can be found at andersonville.org.

Visit Honore Storage on the following platforms:
Online: www.honorestorage.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Honorestorage
witter: www.twitter.com/HonoreStorage

This episode is brought to you by Chicago sales coach, Paul Baraz of Train Wreck Solutions. His new workshop series, Sales Made Simple, occurs monthly every 4th Thursday from 6-7:30PM at 5153 N Clark, #228. Next workshop is September 26! Sign up on the website or email Paul at paulbaraz@gmail.com.

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 76 with Mike Draper and Claire Anderson of RAYGUN

This week, Sara and Joelle are joined by Mike Draper, Owner, and Claire Anderson, Chicago Manager of RAYGUN, newly opened in Andersonville in June of 2019. A raygun is a science fiction particle beam weapon that fires what is usually, destructive energy. But, RAYGUN Andersonville diffuses destructive energy of societal stereotypes with humor and an abundance of typography. Stop in a check out their wide selection of t-shirts, home goods, paper products and more at 5207 N Clark. Today, Claire is with us in person and Mike is calling in from Des Moines, IA.

Mike Draper, Owner (via video) and Claire Anderson, Chicago Manager, recording Always Andersonville: The Podcast.

Mike Draper, Owner (via video) and Claire Anderson, Chicago Manager,  of RAYGUN recording Always Andersonville: The Podcast.

“Money is not the most important thing, but it sure does come in handy sometimes. And by sometimes I mean, every. single. day.”
-Mike Draper, Owner of RAYGUN

Listen to Episode 76 with Mike Draper and Claire Anderson

Here are some references from Episode 76 that you may want to check out:

  • Claire is from Des Moines, IA, which is how she knows Mike, as RAYGUN originated in Des Moines. RAYGUN was originally called Smash. Before RAYGUN, she worked in independent bookstores (including Women & Children First) for 7 years, and has a degree in Art Theory and Practice from Northwestern. 
  • Mike was born and raised in Des Moines, and jokes that geographically he hasn’t come very far – RAYGUN Des Moines is only 6 blocks from the hospital where he was born. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania and St. Andrews (London) where he met his wife. He “convinced” her to come with him back to Des Moines, never imagining 15 years later he would still be in the t-shirt business. Mike shares that he’s always been creative, in bands, writing, making movies, etc, which is largely different from his family who are almost solely mechanical engineers. (Except for his dad – he’s an attorney.) 
  • In 2004, Mike received a rejection letter for an extremely competitive fellowship to continue his education in Europe…so his plans changed. He had put everything in to earning that fellowship, and since that didn’t work out, he came up with a plan B. He jokes that “No one graduates thinking, ‘If I play my cards right, one day I’m going to be selling t-shirts on the street.” He describes himself as a “born entrepreneur, with perhaps a penchant to be “long in confidence, short on planning.” A friend suggested they partner and sell t-shirts on campus…and Mike agreed. Something clicked, and he decided to keep doing it.

    Mike, 2004, in his early t-shirt selling days at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Mike, 2004, in his early t-shirt selling days at the University of Pennsylvania.

  • After his business partner moved on to a different job, and Mike moved back to Des Moines with his t-shirt business, which he set up in his parent’s basement. Mike jokes that his move home was a “smooth transition,” complete with his childhood bunk bed and Rage Against the Machine poster on the wall. He opened the original store (called Smash – more on that later) fall of 2005. Mike had only been screen printing for 6 months before opening his own shop. His first day using a cash register was the day he opened the store, and had never worked in retail. He did have a history degree. (hahaha) Mike explains, “You could say that investors were not necessarily lined up to support a t-shirt guy with no experience whose goal was to spread ultra-positive slogans around Des Moines… Most were like, ‘Well, good luck!’ ”
  • T-shirt printing clicked because it was something creative he could do to make a living. He learned how to run a business (bookkeeping, accounting, permits, stores) because it was a means to an end. Of the experience, Mike says that “It was like trying to learn a language by moving to that country.”
  • Back to Claire. More than a decade later after working with Mike in the Smash space, Claire decided to email Mike about creative opportunities. It was the perfect segue from one Andersonville job to the next. Claire helped scout locations and neighborhoods for RAYGUN Chicago. She showed Mike the Andersonville neighborhood first, and his mind was made up. RAYGUN would open in Andersonville.
RAYGUN Andersonville at 5207 N Clark.

RAYGUN Andersonville at 5207 N Clark.

  • RAYGUN was formerly Giordano’s, Ann Sather, and Villa Sweden. Prior to RAYGUN moving in, the Chamber hosted a couple of pop-ups in the space, which helped present it as retail-friendly. It is a great space to be in, with a great garage door open to the street.
  • RAYGUN was formerly “Smash” – but changed the name due to trademark issues. The word RAYGUN isn’t associated with any special memory, but Mike likes it because it’s futuristic but from the past, menacing, but doesn’t exist. Edgy, yet comical.
  • Their tagline, “The Greatest Store in the Universe,” plays with that same irony, and a lot of RAYGUN jokes are based around the fact that they are from Des Moines. It’s funny to have a neighborhood in Des Moines with the store that declared itself “The Greatest Store in the Universe” – people walk in and go, “That’s funny!” and RAYGUN responds, “We’re totally serious.” And, just in case there is life on Mars, RAYGUN wanted to be sure to be one step ahead of the game, including “universe,” not just “world.”
  • The cat. It’s name is Gary. Pew pew pew! Years ago people asked for cat stuff so Jen (RAYGUN designer), created Gary. Gary subsequently became code-name for their wood shop, and the spaceman “Nitro” is also code for their storage facility which holds ‘time travel supplies.’ It’s important to note that t-shirts are an important time travel supply, but not required for time travel. But, you can’t show up in the past or future not wearing a shirt! You’re going to need clothing.gary
  • Most of RAYGUN’s products and clothing are made or sourced in America, and the ones that aren’t come from facilities that meet certain working conditions criteria, where garment workers make above-average income. Products are largely sourced from the States, and printed in Des Moines. Either RAYGUN or their contractors visit facilities to make sure they meet their ethical standards. They are careful of who they work with and how they operate. It’s important to him that his business holds itself accountable, and doesn’t leave all the research and work about their products left to the consumer. 
  • On their website, RAYGUN is open about their challenges and what they’ve learned from them. Their outward appearance is happy-go-lucky, but on the other hand, they deal with general business issues just like anyone else – HR, cash flow issues, inventory. Often Mike finds that people don’t want to show their weaknesses, but Mike approaches challenges with humor and self-deprecation, which helps make RAYGUN more accessible. Claire comments that Mike’s slogan is, “Do the best with the tools you have. Show up. Don’t be a jerk.” 
  • Being a part of Andersonville lends itself to pop-up events at RAYGUN. Like a recent “Self Defense Workshop,” hosted earlier in August, which is hopefully the first of many. RAYGUN hopes to share it’s space with the community.IMG_5772
  • Often asked is: How does RAYGUN come up with its slogans and designs? Which make it and which don’t? Most of the ideas come from internal collaboration, occasionally social media threads, and  sometimes from the general public. A lot of information is collected, and since visual design is simple and straightforward, their designer’s main job is to decide on content and topics. Some recent examples are Humboldt Park’s “Chance the Snapper,” and “Tupac for Governor.” 
  • If Mike and Claire could trade businesses with anyone in Andersonville it would be:
    Claire – “Official Pie tester at First Slice.”
    Mike – “La Colombe. I’ve always liked the idea of running a coffee shop – it seems romantic. Even though you have to work your ass off.”

Thank you to Claire and Mike for joining us and thank you for listening to Always Andersonville: The Podcast. For more information about RAYGUN please visit raygunsite.com. Show notes on today’s episode can be found at andersonville.org.

Visit RAYGUN on the following platforms:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/raygunshirts/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/raygunshirts/
Online: www.raygunsite.com/collections/chicago
Twitter: https://twitter.com/raygunshirts

This episode is brought to you by Chicago sales coach, Paul Baraz of Train Wreck Solutions. His new workshop series, Sales Made Simple, occurs monthly every 4th Thursday from 6-7:30PM at 5153 N Clark, #228. Next workshop is September 26!

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 75 with Jason Bender of Cheetah Gym

Today we are joined by Jason Bender of Cheetah Gym. Jason is a Master Trainer who believes every workout should have a plan in mind, not just a bunch of exercises. As a black belt, he incorporates martial arts training into his classes so students feel an improvement in flexibility, stress relief and confidence. You can workout with Jason at 5248 N Clark.

Jason with his students.

Jason Bender (far right) with his students at Cheetah Gym.

“We do not grow from being comfortable. During a workout, the only way to find out what you’re made of as a human being is to push yourself.”
– Jason Bender

Listen to Episode 75 with Jason Bender

Here are some references from Episode 75 that you may want to check out:

  • This episode of #AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast comes to you live, from Cheetah Gym’s spin room with Joelle and Laura recording on large exercise balls! Jason Bender is originally from a small town in Ohio, and came to Chicago after college. He has always been involved in marital arts, and ultimately moved to Chicago with the goal to pursue it professionally. In the last few years, he has brought all his business and clients to Cheetah.
Laura and Joelle recording at Cheetah Gym

Laura and Joelle recording at Cheetah Gym on exercise balls!

  • Jason teaches functional fitness classes, “the dental care of fitness,” Muay Thai kickboxing, (no sparring, but utilizes kick pads), overall athletic classes, and Brazilian jiu jitsu/grappling/self-defense. He offers classes at many times, for adults and children. He will often pair kids of different sizes together to learn how to work together and look out for one another. It helps them to develop skills with conflict, verbal and physical.
Jason and his young students.

Jason and his young students.

  • Jason holds a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the rank of Blue in Muay Thai under the World Muay Thai Organization. The differences between the two are that Ju Jitsu originated from Japan and was brought to Brazil, which is where Jason’s instructor, Carlson Gracie Sr., originated from. In Jiu-Jitsu there are only 5 belts, white, blue, purple, brown, black. In this process, you have to mature to a certain point, in age and skill, before you can proceed forward.
  • Jason started competing in martial arts in 1999 and was a Chicago Golden Gloves semifinalist in 2007. He still competes today, but as information about CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy) emerges, he really tries to protect his brain and spars very lightly and carefully. This reflects another beauty of jiu-jitsu; the contact is different and safer. Martial arts is less contact, and therefore lets you leave you opponent as friends, not foes.
  • As a Master Trainer, Jason offers classes that focus on full body workouts, circuit training as well as martial arts. His philosophy is that workouts are supposed to be uncomfortable. Part of the reason why Jason first got involved in martial arts was to prove himself, and he wanted to feel powerful. The only way to get there is to push yourself, and he finds that most people haven’t experienced their full potential – and he wants to help them find that.
Cheetah Gym's workout space.

Cheetah Gym’s workout space.

  • It’s a somewhat a new concept, but Jason explores how much we should push our bodies and how often. It’s important to evaluate how a person is feeling every day, and adjust the intensity of a workout. Pay attention to your body. Jason’s tips for a good workout are: Be consistent. Workout every day at the exact same time. Pay attention to your hunger. If you can, work out in the morning that way nothing gets in the way.
  • Jason is pre/post natal fitness certified, and approaches prenatal workout with 2 questions in mind: Have you done it before you were pregnant, and are you going to fall down? If your exercise routine isn’t different than before, you can still do it! Otherwise, wait until after. 
  • When starting out on a fitness journey or struggling to find the right workout, Jason’s encourages people to get out of the “program” mindset. Fitness is life-long journey. People put a lot of stock in having fun – which is important – but not every workout is fun. Move every day, don’t make excuses. Jason doesn’t like “working out,” but he enjoys jiu jitsu. Find the thing that makes you move in a full range of motion and do that. He fosters a student/learning environment, and gets excited when someone is brand new. If you think you’re at your rock bottom, come on in, and he and his crew will take care of you in more ways than one.

Jason and Student 2

    • Having recently undergone knee surgery, Jason’s experience has been a little bit of a blessing, because he tends to push his physical boundaries. It’s been nice to step back and refresh, and focus on growing his jiu jitsu program. He’s had more people involved, and is finding more ways to get beginners involved and teach better.
    • Some of the individuals in Jason’s life that have helped and encouraged him along his journey are Mr. Rogers – which personified how to treat people and how to be nice. Also, his teachers – Doug Tono, Carlson Gracie Jr, and all of his trainers and students. He sees his students try and try again, and it inspires him to keep going.

Jason and Student

  • When asked which Andersonville business he would like to trade places with and why, Jason would take an empty building and use it as his own facility! It’s a big dream to have his own space and facility. He doesn’t want to do anything outside of the fitness industry and can’t dream of doing anything else.

Visit Jason Bender and Cheetah Gym on the following platforms:
Online: cheetahgym.com | bendermartialarts.com
Facebook: facebook.com/CheetahGymChicago
Instagram: @cheetahgymchicago


This episode is brought to you by Chicago sales coach, Paul Baraz of Train Wreck Solutions. His new workshop series, Sales Made Simple, occurs monthly every 4th Thursday from 6-7:30PM at 5153 N Clark, #228. 


#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 74 with Paul Ruffino of Rattleback Records

This week, Laura and Sara are joined by Paul Ruffino of Rattleback Records, a business that showcases a combination of a lifelong love of music and vintage treasures. Rattleback offers a wide selection of vintage vinyl, CDs, cassettes, movies and more and is open 7 days a week at 5505 N Clark.


Paul (left) pictured here with his husband Mike and Rattleback staff for the 2019-20 Neighborhood Guide. Photo by Anjali Pinto.

“Anyone who can take an instrument and make music is amazing to me.”
-Paul Ruffino

Listen to Episode 74 with Paul Ruffino!

Here are some references from Episode 74 that you may want to check out:

  • Paul Ruffino, the owner of Rattleback Records, is from Chicago and grew up on the far Northwest Side in Edison Park. He attended Taft High School and then Northeastern Illinois University where he earned a degree in Education. After college, he lived in the beautiful northern California Bay Area for 5 years where he taught. He loved it there, but Chicago is home and decided to move back.
  • For 20 years Paul taught English, and often incorporated music in the classroom. He recalled earlier days of working retail at Musicland and 2nd Hand Tunes, where he loved to talk to people about music, turn them on to new types of music, and discover new music himself. He decided to pursue music full-time and opened Rattleback Records here in Andersonville in November 2018.
  • Vinyl records nearly disappeared in the early 2000’s but recently have made a resurgence. Paul attributes this comeback to a generation of young people who have grown up in the digital age, but crave tangible items. The way vinyl transmits sound over speakers is fascinating to people, and the sound (in his opinion) is superior to the compressed sound in CDs and streaming services. He points out that all of the music recording formats that have come and gone over the years, vinyl is the one that has lasted.

Photo by Anjali Pinto.

  • First Records:
    • Paul: (Disclaimer: Given to him by his mother) Captain and Tennille “Love Will Keep Us Together.” 
    • Laura: Maneater” by Hall and Oates. 
    • Sara would rather not say what her first record was, but recalls Toto’s “Africa,” in her parent’s Oldsmobile, a song enjoying a resurgence since it’s recent cover by Weezer.
  • It used to take a lot of work to be able to listen to the music you wanted, which makes the physical interaction with vinyl special. From an educational standpoint, Paul loves the written word aspect; the liner notes, information, lyrics (essentially poems) printed on the back cover or insert. He loves that kids sit down with this format and actually read and learn.
  • The name “Rattleback” wasn’t something he always had thought of, but wanted to incorporate “things that spin.” He and his husband found info about spinning tops, and discovered an ancient top that spins, rattles, then changes its direction. Hence, their name, “Rattleback Records.” Paul likes that the top that lends its name to the store feels rebellious, it doesn’t do what you expect, and has stood the test of time. Paul also likes the alliteration. In the store, Paul has a bin of plastic rattlebacks.
  • When addressing the topic of online music and its negative and positive effects, Paul shares that the potential positive impact is that people are exposed to new kinds of music and might seek it out in his shop. The negative effect is that people rely solely on their device to download or stream music instantly, instead of physically walking into a shop and deciding how to listen to music.

Photo by Anjali Pinto.

  • Paul shares that his store brings people together – people from all walks of life. Customers who experience vinyl for the first time share that they love it. People share that it brings their family together; listen to music and discuss it, which is so cool. Rattleback Records has regulars, but every day, people walk in who are new to the store.
  • In addition to retail, Rattleback also hosts book signings and live music, recently hosting a performance by Todd Rundgren. The next performance slated will be with a local ukulele group called “The Tiny Bubbles.” Other well-attended in-store performances have been by up-and-coming artists, Suzy Rocket, and Chloe MK (the winner of The Voice in 2017). 
  • Paul’s all-time favorite artist is Joni Mitchell, and “Blue” his favorite album. His desert island artists currently are Van Morrison, the new Bruce Springsteen record, Indie music, and the Grateful Dead – Paul is a (former) Dead Head. He is also into Black Sabbath and AC/DC. Since opening the shop, he’s gotten into jazz, and grown to appreciate names like John Coltrane and Miles Davis in a deeper way. 
  • Paul doesn’t play an instrument himself, and is awe of anyone who can. He remarks a lot of indie bands are bringing in instruments, and recently featured a jazz group with a hammered dulcimer.


    Photo by Anjali Pinto.

  • In addition to used vinyl, Paul sells CDs, cassettes, vintage barware, posters, and prints. Vinyl is selling well, and Rattleback will probably be expanding their record collection, with a need for more LP bins to be made. Paul dreams of owning his own record label to promote local artists, specifically the LGBTQ+ community and allies, to illuminate the music here in Chicago, outside the usual stereotypes. There’s more than Madonna and Britney! Like hard-core heavy metal and country musicians, for example.
  • Paul’s tastes are eclectic, and tries to push himself outside his comfort zone and explore new music. This “explore” mentality is apparent in his decision to open a brick and mortar business, taking an old-school shop that people know, but updating it and offering something people are seeking. After many years in education, it was scary because he wasn’t sure if he’d be successful opening a record shop, but the feedback has been great. Paul points out that every day he has a blast.
  • Paul also buys media. The selling process at Rattleback is based on condition, and buys all media (CDs, records, tapes). Records are the focus. People drop things off, and they also do house calls – sometimes people unload thousands of records, which is a lot of work, but mostly fun. Paul’s favorite part of house calls like this is meeting the people; he meets really cool people who become customers and friends. 
  • Paul married his husband Mike at Artifact Events, an amazing day filled with an outpouring of love, and before gay marriage was legal in Illinois. At their wedding, Paul and Mike had a live band and their friend Jeff Mikhail (a professional filmmaker with a documentary out soon called “You Don’t Know Me”) surprised them with a video compilation. The video captured the joy of the day, and the music featured Aretha Franklin’s “Baby I Love You,” Paul and Mike’s processional song. 
  • Which Andersonville business would Mike trade with for a day? Martha Mae: Art Supplies and Beautiful Things (5407 N Clark) . It’s such a serene, peaceful, well-curated shop. Every time he walks in he feels peace and warmth, and Jean’s (owner) artwork is amazing. What music would he play in Martha Mae? Something soothing, like Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” 
  • Paul states for the record that he does using streaming services, but was recently struck by the statement that “Hard drives crash but vinyl lasts forever.”

Visit Rattleback Records on the following platforms:
Online: rattlebackrecords.com
Facebook: facebook.com/rattlebackrecords
Instagram: @rattlebackrecords
Twitter: @RattlebackRec

This episode is brought to you by Chicago sales coach, Paul Baraz of Train Wreck Solutions. His new workshop series, Sales Made Simple, occurs monthly every 4th Thursday from 6-7:30PM at 5153 N Clark, #228. Don’t miss this week’s workshop on August 22!