Today we’d like to introduce you to Val Camilletti.
Val, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Graduated Austin High School in January 1958 & 3 days later started working at Continental Bank – a bastion of marble & wood in downtown Chicago. Despite lasting 4 years, it was pretty evident that the financial world was not an obvious match. Consulted an employment agency who buy & large sent me on similar clerical interviews. After a few of those, I moaned that I might consider applying for a retail job selling records. The counselor remembered that she had seen an employment request from a recent client. On an index card on her desk it said, “Work for major record company, meet famous people” With my limited knowledge, I expected that a “major” record company meant a luxurious carpeted office with a polished wooden desk where a perky receptionist would direct visitors to the “famous” people. I didn’t think I’d fit the bill, but decided to give it a shot.
The next day, in April of 1962, I walked thru the doors of the ugliest, pea green peeled painted walls of a squat non-descript building at 1326 S. Michigan Ave — the Chicago branch office of Capitol Records. A couple of sales reps wandering around muttering, “those mother******s” and I immediately KNEW I wanted to work HERE!!!
After a couple of inept interviews, I was hired. My first day was April 26, 1962. When I arrived, there was no desk, no typewriter & no pen. When I asked my new boss what I should do first, he suggested that I clean out the 5 drawer file cabinet and throw out the stuff we didn’t need. The cabinet contained thousands of candid 8 X 10 photos of every major recording artist on the Capitol roster – FRANK SINATRA; JUDY GARLAND; NAT KING COLE etc., etc. All I could think was “are they going to PAY me to do this”
The Capitol tenure lasted ’til 1967, long enough to usher in some minor artists like THE BEATLES & BEACH BOYS when it was time to move on. I took a job running a small record store in Oak Park that grew into a 5 store chain in Illinois & Wisconsin called NMC Discount Records. As is typical of retail, some of the stores did better than others and when we closed NMC in 1972, I was able to negotiate keeping the flagship location at 723 1/2 South Blvd and it was there that VAL’S HALLA RECORDS was born – July 27, 1972. In 2006 we re-located to our present location at 239 Harrison and the last week of July we will be celebrating our 45th anniversary
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Life in retail is never smooth. Configurations of music move in and out of favor and with those changes come increasing debt and ever fluctuating demand. Obviously the most daunting challenge came with the availability of downloaded music. If it weren’t for the returned interest in vinyl, it is difficult to imagine we would still exist.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Val’s Halla records – what should we know?
Val’s Halla is a real life record store. We carry every configuration of music from 78’s going back to the late 1800;s to current hip-hop in Cd, vinyl and cassettes and also DVD’s and VHS tapes.
What really separates us from most music stores is that we DON’T specialize — we have a vast selection in all musical genres including classical, country & easy listening selections going back to the 50’s
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
An insatiable curiosity to find the answer to ANY question. When customers have long ago tried to convince us that it really isn’t that important, we simply can’t quit.
- Address: 239 harrison st. – oak park, IL
hours: Mon – Sat 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Sunday – 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Website: valshallarecords.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: – 708-524-1004