After nearly 50 years of offering Chicago a place to buy a wide range of new and used vinyl, CDs and cassettes, Val’s halla Records is closing its doors Nov. 30.
“Some of the debts just piled up to the point where I couldn’t come back from it,” said general manager Shayne Blakeley.
Owner Val Camilletti opened the Oak Park shop in 1972 and ran the business until her death in July 2018 after a two-year battle with breast cancer. She was 78 years old.
Blakeley said customers piled in after Camilletti’s death to pay their respects and the holiday shopping season helped keep business afloat, but sales eventually slowed down in 2019.
“The first quarter of this year is the worst I’ve seen in my almost 20 years in this business, and it just put me into a hole that I haven’t been able to recover from,” he said.
Blakeley has now worked at Val’s halla for 19 years. When he first moved to Chicago, he was interested in working in a music store. Lucky for him, his banker knew just the shop owner: Val Camilletti.
“I hired in as just a regular employee, and then like the same day that I started, two other employees put in their notice so I pretty much became a manager right then and there,” he said.
Blakeley said a number of things made Val’s halla unique, but highest among them was Camilletti’s personality.
“Her experience and wealth of knowledge and giant personality is in the DNA of this place, even after she passed,” he said.