Rose Records on Wabash
Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: Jayg (
Date: May 09, 2011 09:50PM

Does anyone have recollections of shopping at Rose Record's on Wabash?
My memories are fading I recall at least 2 stories,maybe three, of bins filled with records.

Was there was an escalator to the second floor?

The sign in front was,I believe, concentric yellow neon, with Rose Reocords in red neon.

Were the prices indicated by different colored stickers?

There were thick printed catalogues of what was in the inventory available throughout the store.

You had to get a sales slip from one of the associates before you could pay for your records.
I assume whoever wrote the slips received a commission of some sort,even though their only activity was filling in the slip.

I think the upper section had classical music and the salesmen were older adults, teenage boys worked the first floor.

The front of the store was populated with aggresive panhandlers who would sometimes follow you in.

My routine in those times of tight money was to take the L/subway to Jackson, get one of those CTA transfers from a red box.
(I think they were good for about 15 minutes.) I'd run up to the elevated, grab another transfer, and run to Rose for a quick
record buy, then take the L home all on one fare.

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: deepstblu2 (
Date: May 09, 2011 11:14PM

It was definitely two stories, and I think you had to take an escalator to the second floor and an elevator back down. They may have rearranged things over time but as I recall it from the late '70s the second floor was all budget-line and cutout albums while the main stock was on the first floor. The records were arranged by label and catalog number, and since most people didn't have those memorized they had copies of the Schwann catalog in the bins so you could look up the numbers. They weren't cheap, but they had storewide sales about twice a year so you could get a decent deal on the records you couldn't find anywhere else.

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: Chipast (
Date: May 12, 2011 09:07PM

It was about 5-10 stories, 3-4 floors of Rose (later Tower records).

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: davey7 (
Date: May 18, 2011 07:33PM

I remember their tape (cassette/8-track) conveyor belt - you had to pick them out through windows/cut-outs in a plexi wall and drop them into a conveyor belt to the cashier which I guess was supposed to prevent theft. This was on the second floor I think.

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: davidaus (
Date: May 18, 2011 07:52PM

In high school, visiting Rosies, as we called it, I bought:

Laura Nyro's "Eli and the 13th Confession" Then not long ago - but long in the tooth - I ordered the CD at one of the big chain book stores. Felt young again.

Our H.S. jazz program was fairly progressive. We'd buy our Coltrane 33s there at Rosies, too. Rosie's would have been just about #1 on our cultural excursion to the Loop.

Hope we are all keeping those albums in a good dry, cool safe place., They will last longer than the CDs, which deteriorate.

MP3s? Do you have an ironclad digital "succession plan" in place?

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: Mr Downtown (
Date: May 19, 2011 12:40AM

Having the sales slip filled out separately from the cash register was fairly common in the old days. I think Central Camera still does it. Easier to keep an eye on one till, and one cashier, than on six.

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: Elaine W (192.175.17.---)
Date: May 19, 2011 08:41PM

The building where Rose/Tower used to be is still standing--214 S. Wabash is the address. The building itself is 3 or 4 stories, not five or more (it's a small building in a block of taller buildings). I recall 2, possibly 3, floors with records and related material. If there's a 4th floor, it may have been used as office or storage space.
I have no recollection of when Rose closed down and Tower took over, nor am I sure of the exact date when Tower closed, but I'm pretty sure that Tower closed sometime between 2005 and 2008.

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: docj (
Date: August 08, 2011 02:19AM

Hi all,
I worked at Rose for a couple of high school/college summers 68-69 or 69-70. Yes, the first floor then had all the current releases arranged by label and catalog number, with Schwann catalogs sitting on top for reference. Yes, escalator up and elevator down. Budget labels were upstairs as were the then new items such as 8-tracks and cassettes. We, the sales staff, wrote out the receipts--there was no commission (and very little pay--but nice discounts on records). Having a driver's license meant that I occassionally chauffered Mrs. Rose. There were two Rose brothers. One owned the Wabash store and the other the smaller one on Madison. Everyone had kind of a specialty. Mine was folk music, another's was blues and the classical specialists were subdivided by expertise. I remember one guy who everyone called Wagner--it wasn't his real name but he lived and breathed Richard Wagner. The Beatles White Album came out while I was there and of course there was a big run on it. "Wagner" was rather upset by this so he went upstairs to the ethnic section and removed the card that read "Polish", came downstairs and replaced the "Apple" placard with it. A few minutes later this little elderly gentleman walks in and his eyes lit up when he saw a sign reading "Polish"--he pulls this blank white box out of the bin, flips it back and forth, twirls it around, checks the spine. Shrugging his shoulders with a confused look he replaced the record, turned around and walked out.

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: user_name (
Date: April 04, 2013 09:29PM

I just bought a used book (on paleontology, no less) at a store in Boston and in it was an old sales slip from this place, in the original envelope.

Who ever it was speant a whopping $1.25. No indication of what was purchased; it just has the amount.

Pretty neat find.

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: Hugh (
Date: February 11, 2015 07:56AM

I did not know there use to be a Rose's Records store there and I did not know it went back that far. I just pulled an old Rose Discount Record tag off of an old plastic wrap, wrapped around an old album from 1968. I did a search and ran into this page. Very interesting information. I'm going to frame tags of old record stores when I find them. I was in that Tower Records on Wabash a few times before it closed. I was a big fan of the one in Lincoln Park. I use to live down the street from the Tower Records on Belden and Clark. I bought the 2nd stage that bands and solos use to play on, when that store was closing. I also brought the Tower Record letters that use to hang over the esculator. Everyone should have a record store in they're lives. To me that's a true rocker thing to do.

Did you guys know there use to be a Rose Records in a small mall at Clark and Wellington? It's now a Ultra Beauty Store. Just up the street was Coconuts Record Store at Clark and Diversey. There were also some other miscellaneous record stores along Clark there just south of Diversey. And another one at Diversey and Sheffield that is now a Potbelly Sandwich Shop. Still have my cassettes from the 1980's and CD's from the 1990's-2000's which I will keep for life. Those where some good times.

Chicago, like many other big cities, have amazing music stories but those stories basically have no home other than what people remember. I think that's sad, especially since music is so much a part of all of our lives. Chicago also played an important part during the counter culture revolution. So much to learn. Thanks for sharing the information guys.

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: Dunning1 (
Date: February 11, 2015 04:07PM

The Rose Records/Tower Records on Wabash used to be one of my regular haunts. I worked at 55 E. Monroe at the time, and I was over there at least twice a week searching for bargains. They had escalators going up only, and I would go to the classical department on the third floor. It was really extensive. I would always check out with a bag full of records or CDs, and then take the stairs back down to the first floor.

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: WayOutWardell (199.101.76.---)
Date: February 12, 2015 01:16PM

Bought my first record with my own money at the Rose on Wabash!

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: EricV (
Date: February 12, 2015 07:22PM

At the end (may have been Tower by that point"Rose had three full floors of music, escalators and an elevator. 3rd floor was movie soundtracks, broadway cast albums, older pop music-Sinatra, etc. and the like. Classical was on the second floor for a long time. Don't remember where the jazz was-maybe on the third floor. The set up was quite different in the early 70s when I first shopped there. Spent many lunch hours in there and bought tons of records there. CDs too.
Bought my first record-a 45 of The Buckingham's "Hey Baby They're Playing Our Song"-at a DeKoven's Drugstore.

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: rjmachon (
Date: February 12, 2015 08:19PM

One of the Buckingham's father worked with my Mom at VS-Grinding on Damen and Balmoral Ave. here in Chicago. This would have been around 1966. I bowled with Carl Bonafede who was the band's manager at the time.

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: Hugh (
Date: February 13, 2015 12:27AM

I read that Carl still lives and works in Chicago in the Lincoln Park area.

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: rjmachon (
Date: February 13, 2015 06:16PM

Remember when Carl did the US 30 Dragstrip commercials in the 1970's? "Where the great ones, run"! He spoke a word a second! He also won the "Beat the Champs" bowling tournament around 1993 at Habetler Bowl.

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: thejimdoherty (
Date: February 16, 2015 09:18AM

I have many fond memories of Rose Records. That was THE store to go to to find the record you wanted. They not only carried about the biggest selection of domestic records you could find in Chicago, they also carried a few imports, and that was sort of rare in those days. When I was a kid in the 'sixties, I would sometimes call up to see if they had a certain LP (and, because of my high voice back then, the salesperson would usually say "I'll check on that, ma'am"), and then have my dad, who worked nearby, go and pick it up.

About the big catalog mentioned in the original post, I believe that was the Phonolog catalog. It was at least as huge as large as a big-city phone book, which listed not what was available in the store, but what was in print and available to be gotten. I seem to remember there being blue pages and yellow pages.

Later, when I attended college in downtown Chicago (1977-81), I would go to Rose on Wabash at least every other week. At that time, it was two floors, and there was a staircase leading to the second floor, which, as I recall, was all cut-outs (discontinued) LPs.

Later, (maybe in the late '80s/early '90s?), they expanded to three floors, and put in escalators.

In the late 1970s, I struck up a friendship with the salesperson who was the "soundtrack LP guru" there, Dennis Petersen. He survived the Rose/Tower changeover and was there to the last dying gasp of the store a few years ago. What a great guy! He knew everything about movie music. If you're not a soundtrack fan, you might not understand, but at one point he gave me his home phone number; that was like Heifetz giving his phone number to a violin novice. I am happy to say that I became his friend. We had dinner at his house, we had dinner at my house. We would discuss soundtrack music for HOURS on the phone.

He died a few years ago. I still miss him, his friendship, and his knowledge of film music. I also miss Rose/Tower Records. It was always better to go there and scout around their inventory in a record/CD store to see what was new, than to try to peruse what you might want on the internet. On the internet you have to type in what you're looking for; at a record/CD store, you just flipped through the bins, and saw what was new and important to you. Sometimes, by accident, you saw something you never thought even existed.

Re: Rose Records on Wabash
Posted by: the_mogra (
Date: April 10, 2015 02:39PM

at the Madison ROSE RECORDS store the sales manager for their tapes (all kinds) was a guy named Roy Cloud, whom me and my buddies became good friends with in the late-60's / early-'70s. That guy had an inside track with the tape duplicator companies like Ampex etc and so there wasn't a single album title he couldn't get for us on tape, any format. The store shelves were so well stocked with tapes and every single week Roy'd surprise us with more, even odd & obscure 'special-orders'. No other chicago record store carried tapes half as good as ROSE on Madison

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