How Hoarders Trading Post in St. Charles became a top seller of used and rare records
Russell Martens was excited about the prospect of his new business, Hoarders Trading Post, when it opened on the east side of St. Charles two years ago. He felt his assortment of old toys, bicycles, video games and other items would draw a lot of attention.
And it did -- maybe just not quite what he was expecting.
"Within the first week of opening, someone came in and bought out the whole inventory," Martens said. "It was a woman who bought it to wipe out any competition and then sold it on Amazon."
It left Martens with a great idea for a store -- at that time located at 504 E. Main St. -- but with nothing much in it.
"I thought, OK, I will replace it (the inventory) with something else," Martens said. "And then it just turned into a record store and has stayed a full-blown record store since."
At that turning point, Martens had about 700 used records on display. Today, freshly moved into a bigger location in the lower level of a building at 1301 E. Main St., he has more than 10,000 records and hundreds of CDs.
"It is some of the rarest stuff anywhere," he added. "I am told every single day that I have the best inventory in the Chicago area," Martens noted.
Martens focuses on what he calls "Top 40," or bands and musicians that made their mark in that upper stratosphere of the music world.
As such, he estimates he has at least 1,000 Beatles records, 500 Led Zeppelin albums and an array of Pink Floyd, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and countless others in his collection.
It doesn't come about because customers flock to his store to buy vintage vinyl or bring in collections for him to make offers. He takes a little more aggressive approach when he needs to.
About a year ago, a fellow in the Oswego area had called all of the record stores in the region to see if anyone was interested in seeing his collection of some 3,000 old albums. They all told him to bring the collection into their shops so they could assess the value. He didn't really want to do that.
When he contacted Martens, he got an entirely different response. Martens stopped what he was doing at his shop and drove down to Oswego that day.
"I bought 3,200 records off this guy, and it was the best collection I have ever seen," Martens recalled. "It was also the biggest collection I have ever found."
Martens prides himself on being fair when making offers for old records. He realizes the price of albums has gone up in just the past two months, like most every other consumer product, as inflation has crept into what is hopefully the last phase of the pandemic.
"I am very protective of not insulting anyone by trying to undercut the prices of their records," he said. "The worst thing that can happen is if someone thinks they were taken. I believe strongly in good karma."
That good karma is in full swing now at the new location off 13th Avenue, where Martens has a steady flow of music buffs looking for great music from yesteryear or even more current. Because he doesn't take online orders, Martens relies on in-store sales and interacting with customers.
In addition to record albums and CDs, Martens sells some stereo equipment and speakers and various other music memorabilia.
"I have even seen cassette tapes making a comeback," he said.
If they are, the Hoarders Trading Post has them ready to sell.
A blood drive will be held June 4 in North Aurora in honor of West Aurora High School alumnus Aaron Jackson, who died at age 20 in March.
- Courtesy of Janet Jackson
In memory of Aaron
The Jackson family of North Aurora isn't likely to ever forget how its world was turned upside down on March 25 and 26 this year.
Aaron Jackson, a graduate of West Aurora High School and a member of the football team, was feeling ill and went to urgent care the morning of March 25. When blood work results came back later that day, medical staff feared he had a blood clot.
He was transferred to Loyola Medical Center in the middle of the night.
"We were called early in the morning to get to the hospital as soon as we could," his mother Janet Jackson said. "He had coded for over an hour and was pronounced dead 30 seconds before we arrived."
The community will remember Aaron as "Umpire Aaron" in the youth baseball leagues and his Eagle Scout project. He built buddy benches at the elementary schools to ensure everyone had a friend.
"His 21st birthday is next month, and I knew we needed to do something special," Janet said. "He received blood and platelets while in the ER and passed away due to the blood clot.
"My heart told me to host a blood drive in his name," Janet added. "I want to turn the tragic day in my family's life to a positive one for someone else."
The blood drive is set for the day of Aaron's birthday, from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday, June 3, at Fearn Elementary School, 1600 Hawksley Lane, North Aurora.
Those interested in slotting a time to give blood can do so through the Facebook page established for the blood drive at fb.me/e/2apOJp0VF.
More on sculptures
Several comments came my way about last week's column item about a famous sculptor, the late Seward Johnson, having some fascinating sculptures in Mount St. Mary Park this year in St. Charles.
He's particularly famous in New York City, as one of his sculptures near the World Trade Center survived the destruction when the twin towers were attacked.
Former St. Charles Mayor Fred Norris gave me a call to say he enjoyed the story and that the first time he saw the work of Mr. Johnson was several years ago. It was a sculptor representing new students coming into what was then the Arthur Andersen training center, now the Q Center in St. Charles.
A New York Times article from 1992 indicated Johnson had two sculptures on that site, creating an uncanny likeness of the "conservatively dressed, clean-cut and well-programmed" trainees that typically showed up at that campus.
"It's an outstanding sculpture, and it had the students' class rings and everything in great detail," Norris said.
A soapy start
Magnolia Soap and Bath Co. opened a couple of weeks ago at 1 Illinois St., Suite 110, in St. Charles -- and it's getting rave reviews on social media already for the various products it sells.
Customers will find hand-poured soap, candles and plant-based beauty essentials. And the ladies will surely know what "whipped body butter" is, whereas I might think it's a stick of butter made in the form of a human body. My wife claims it's a body lotion.
Here's a plus that stuck out for me. It's next to Kimmer's Ice Cream. That's not a bad place to be.
It has a nice ring to it. Niche, Nosh, Nash.
There's possibly no way of proving this without extensive research, but it certainly feels safe to say Geneva has to be the only place in the country with a Niche, Nosh and Nash on its retailer list.
For those maybe not familiar, Niche is an upscale bar/restaurant at 14 S. Third St.; Nosh is a breakfast/lunch spot at 22 N. Third St.; and Nash is a beauty salon at 27 N. Second St.