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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tucson’s original one-stop music shop

    Mark Levkowitz, one of the owners of the Chicago Music Store, sorts through one of the thousands of guitars upstairs in the store. Levkowitzs family has been collecting the guitars upstairs for more than 80 years, which is how long they have owned the store.
    Mark Levkowitz, one of the owners of the Chicago Music Store, sorts through one of the thousands of guitars upstairs in the store. Levkowitz’s family has been collecting the guitars upstairs for more than 80 years, which is how long they have owned the store.

    Tucson Spotlight

    Three floors of jenga-stacked guitars and amplifiers are overwhelming at first glance, but the gracious staff at Chicago Music Store, 103 E. Congress Ave., is encouraging and welcoming in their musical mecca.

    Family-owned and operated for more than 80 years, Chicago Music Store is an admirable piece of Tucson’s downtown business community. The store buys, sells and trades instruments of all genres. Not only does it have a large variety to choose from: the store also has its own technician for equipment repairs.

    Mark Levkowitz, manager of the Chicago Music Store, grew up among the electric guitars that hang tranquilly from racks. His father and uncle opened the store in the early 1920s after they moved to Tucson from Chicago – hence the store’s name. Levkowitz has run the store for his mother, who has owned it ever since his father passed away.

    Originally a JC Penney department store and then an Aaron Brother’s store, the spacious building lends itself to hold a large inventory.

    “”We must have over a thousand guitars,”” Levkowitz said while standing in the basement, where hundreds of vintage guitars are stored and stacked under a layer of gray dust.

    Levkowitz has seen music trends among teens come and go, and acknowledged that most teens aren’t into rocking out on the saxophone anymore, but are now looking for equipment needed to be a disc jockey.

    “”I remember when kids wanted to be like Kenny G and play the saxophone. Now it’s turntables and DJ systems,”” explained Levkowitz with a hint of skepticism in his voice.

    Chicago Music Store carries the newest technology and equipment on the market for DJ systems. In the back of the store, Levkowitz demonstrated the detailed features of a DJ system. At the touch of a computer button, colored strobe lights, fog machines and music blared from speakers, uniting to make one groovy dance floor.

    Local religious groups come to Chicago Music Store to satisfy their musical entertainment needs.

    “”Some of the larger churches in Tucson are turning to entertainment as a ways of attracting people,”” Levkowitz said. “”We have sold them thousands of dollars in lighting and sound equipment.””

    Whatever one craves in music, Chicago Music Store can satisfy the desire. Vintage instruments such as pianos, Gibson guitars and Martin ukuleles are the most popular purchases, and they are hard to keep in the store, according to Levkowitz.

    Wandering through the aisles of instruments, Levkowitz proudly held a 1960s vintage acoustic Gibson guitar that has been housed in the store since it was purchased 50 years ago.

    “”We never sold it, so it’s still here and now worth something because it has aged,”” Levkowitz said.

    The dusty and cavernous basement may look like a junk yard of French horns and drums sets, but surprisingly, hidden treasures have surfaced and sold for substantial prices.

    The store’s convenient downtown location is minutes from the UA campus. UA students are some of the many people who walk through the doors of Chicago Music Store, according to Levkowitz.

    “”It’s a mixed bag of people who shop here,”” Levkowitz said. “”You’ll see anywhere from a fourth-grader learning the piano to a senior citizen who never had the chance to play an instrument.””

    The store caters to the needs of beginning music students by carrying a wide variety of beginner instruments, such as a digital piano with keys that light up for easy learning.

    Not only are the staff members friendly, but they understand the financial restraints that a student may carry, so they offer to help finance any purchase with payment plans.

    Whether you’re looking for a great item to sell on eBay or wanting to explore that hidden musical talent behind the calculus equations, Chicago Music Store is a great place to start a musical journey.

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