It was a mecca for music-lovers of every stripe, a teen hang-out, and most of all, place of magnificent discovery. Just about everyone who lived in north suburban Deerfield back then has a story to tell about the Deerfield Record Shop, in the heart of town, near the main intersection of Deerfield and Waukegan Roads.
The popular owner, Lenny Jernstrom, could identify the song you were looking for just by hearing a bit of the lyric. He’d order albums for regulars knowing that they would like, and probably buy, what he chose for them. A lot of first albums were purchased there: Elvis Live in Vegas, Doors’ Soft Parade, Sgt.Peppers, Zappa’s Freak Out. That earned a punch on your “buy ten, get one free” index card. And you’d pick up the latest WLS Silver Dollar Survey on the way out.
But what I appreciated most was the listening booth in the back. It was packed every Saturday in the late sixties. Kids, flush with allowance money, were getting exited about the latest, greatest, hot-off-the-press 45’s. Yes, those touchable, spin-able, 7-inch vinyl singles and B sides by the Kinks, Marvin Gaye, Roy Orbison and Shadows of Knight. I‘ve saved most of mine.
Sadly, the Deerfield Record Shop, a mainstay in the community for over a quarter of a century, closed its doors in 1978. Lenny lost business to the discount music chains as rent got high and his health faltered. He passed away in 1998. And ever since, no big box store, digital download or streaming music service has come close to offering the warmth, depth and personality of that welcoming, little, independent record store.
It’s your turn. Please share some memories if you, too, spent time thumbing though those inviting rows of 12-inch albums or “getting turned on” to a favorite tune in the booth of the Deerfield Record Shop.