Music

‘If You’re Ever Looking For Anything, Pick Up the Phone’: Clark Street Record Store Helps Customers Find Music They’re Looking For

Courtesy of Ray TateChicago Ray Records is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday through Wednesday. It’s open an extra hour, until 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday and is closed Sunday.

For Ray Tate, music is an escape and his livelihood. His cash-only store, Chicago Ray Records (7051 N. Clark St.) opened Aug. 1.

“I love all music, I have a respect for all music, even the music I don’t like I have respect for because it is art,” Tate said. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I can listen to something and say, ‘That’s not for me’, and you could listen to it and love it. That’s the beauty of it.”

He said his love for music inspired him to open two music stores. The first was located near North Clark Street, but was put out of business. The second is Chicago Ray Records.

Tate said the pandemic, although an obstacle to most, provided the perfect opportunity for him to open his new business.

“I had my stuff in storage and I thought to myself, ‘Everyone is stuck,’” Tate said. 

Chicago Ray Records stocks multiple mediums. While streaming services have taken over the music industry, Tate said he believes in keeping older methods alive, and he said records and cassettes could compete with CDs and streaming services any day.

“[The record player is] the best sound you’re ever going to get,” Tate said. “They can’t recapture it any other way, it’s just a warm sound. In my opinion you can close your eyes and feel like you’re in the room with the artist.”

Tate values cassettes for different reasons. He said he enjoys the size and he thinks cassettes have a “cool factor” you can’t ignore. In his experience, they last longer than CDs.

“Cassettes tend to last forever,” Tate said. “I have cassettes in the store that are 50 years old and you could put them on and they will sound as good as when the cellophane came off.” 

Chicago Ray Records offers every genre of music. There’s limited stock in-store, but Tate said he will help hunt down any music a customer is interested in.

“I will do my best to find it,” Tate said. “I have a pretty good success rate of finding it, sometimes it is the price that scares people away.”

The pandemic also caused a shift online. The store has a presence both on Facebook and on Instagram, @chicagorayrecords. On these platforms, they post their new finds every couple of days. Customers are encouraged to call to reserve any music that catches their eye. 

He even has recommendations for college students.

“My go-to to always make me feel good is The Beatles,” Tate said. “Even their sad songs kind of made you feel good. I recommend really loud music. Dig into your Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and turn it up real loud. It’s a great way to tune out everything we’re going through.”

Tate also offers a discount to Loyola faculty and students — 20 percent off of vintage vinyl, CDs, and cassettes as well as 10 percent off of everything else in-store.

Chicago Ray Records is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday through Wednesday. It’s open an extra hour, until 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday and is closed Sunday.

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