Walking through the door of 207 E. Chicago St. in Elgin brings customers into more than a single business. Rediscover Records, a "store within a store," takes up less than half of the Two Doors Down shop.
Antiques, jewelry and artwork take up the rest, but for Rich Wagner, his few-hundred-square-foot space is a dream come true.
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Wagner grew up in the area, moved away and then settled down in Elgin in 1995. He has a culinary background and has spent most of his working life in restaurants and hotels. But his real passion is music, and opening a record store has been a goal of his for more than 15 years.
Wagner said opening the store in June may not have been the best timing for a new business venture, but it was a good enough time for him. He especially couldn't pass up the location, vacated by a vitamin store in the city's downtown.
"If I couldn't have done this in downtown Elgin, I probably still wouldn't have done it," Wagner said.
A love of music started young for Wagner. The Beatles were one of the first bands he really connected with, once he backtracked to their music after being drawn in by the popularity of Paul McCartney and Wings in the mid-'70s.
Wagner was 14 when John Lennon died and a Chicago radio station played all the Beatles' songs from A to Z in a single day. Wagner's dad switched out the 90-minute cassettes for him while he was in school all day and he finished recording the rest of the marathon that evening.
"I listened to those tapes over and over and over," Wagner said.
At 45 and living in a world of CDs and MP3s, Wagner has only turned back to vinyl in the last decade. Though he has 17,000 songs on his iPod, it's the record player he reaches for when he wants to really listen to music, rather than just have it as background sound.
"I like the idea that it creates a listening environment," Wagner said.
Deciding on side one or side two, admiring the album cover art, relishing the richer, warmer sound of vinyl -- it's all part of the experience.
That's what Wagner likes to share with people: the unique enjoyment of records and more broadly, the love of music he himself learned so young.
Sure, music has changed over the years but Wagner doesn't give any merit to those who say it has died.
"When people say they can't find good music, they aren't looking hard enough," Wagner said. "Or I say 'Congratulations, you've become your parents.' "
With Rediscover Records, and thousands of albums to choose from, both old and newly released, Wagner can help people look harder.
Rediscover Records, 207 E. Chicago St. Elgin, is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday). For details, call (847) 961-8445 or visit rediscoverrecords.com.