“Know anyone who wants to buy a record store?” - Bob Koester, owner of the Jazz Record Mart, Chicago
Jazz Record Mart, long billed as “The World’s Largest Jazz and Blues Record Store,” is up for sale while its founder searches for a possible new location.
“The rent is killing us,” said Bob Koester, 83, owner of the famous shop at 27 E. Illinois St.
“I want to die with the store. But it’s either phase it out or sell it. Phasing it out is not easy. Know anyone who wants to buy a record store?”
Koester, who began selling records in Chicago in the late 1950s and officially established the Jazz Record Mart name in 1962, said the store holds approximately “$400,000 worth of inventory.” Through the decades, the Jazz Record Mart has operated at a variety of locations.
Business-wise, “We’re doing OK,” said Koester, but a recent spike in rent has forced his hand.
Koester also owns the Chicago-based Delmark Records label, which has been documenting jazz and blues since 1953, starting in St. Louis.
“Delmark’s doing well,” said Koester, who expects his son to carry on that business in future years.