The Record Track
When Clifton Muhammad earned an MBA from the University of Chicago, he didn’t imagine owning a small record store. His career had been mostly about helping multinational companies make money, and getting more returns on their investment.
Unexpectedly he inherited The Record Track from his Uncle Wister Adriane, who died and left a treasure trove of old vinyl LPs and CDs. And Clifton planned to get rid of them all. With the help of music business students from a nearby college, Clifton put up a big “liquidation” sign and began to sell everything off. But a funny thing happened on the way to liquidation. Clifton’s uncle’s customers would walk in, while Clifton was trying to sell everything, saying things like, “We’re glad you’re still here.” The Record Track had been in South Chicago since 1990. A UIC Great Cities Institute study found that $46 million leaves the South Chicago neighborhood annually for hobbies, books and music – the kinds of things that The Record Track could provide, while residents say, “We would shop here if we had more options.”
Clifton and his wife, Connie, decided to make their home in the community. Their new business will transform this old record store into a hands-on music experience with: guitars, keyboards, drums, etc., where neighbors can learn how to play something within just a few minutes, using interactive video-prompted technology for quick music lessons with opportunities for local musicians to create better social connections.
The South Chicago: Change on the Horizon -Quality Of Life Plan found that many artists—professional, emerging, young and old—live in South Chicago and face challenges in practicing their art, developing their skills and earning a living. The Record Track will provide opportunities for local musicians and other performance artists to participate to create better social, recreational and enrichment opportunities for youth and families and we will facilitate information-sharing, networking and learning among artists, businesses, organizations and residents. Arts and culture have been a constant part of life in South Chicago, but have not been highly visible to most residents. Residents see the arts as potential tools for improving the community and for building connections between neighbors.
We tested a prototype of this concept in our neighborhood, at the Sweet Home South Chicago Block Party and we’re amazed by the response from the community.