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Vinyl Views is our weekly blog where we feature album recommendations from our store team (Shayne and Jaxon), and reveal picks from guest contributors. This week we’re highlighting some wonderful stories you’ve shared about Val’s over the last 50 years!  CLICK HERE TO SHARE YOUR STORY!

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As we begin our 50th anniversary celebration, we have reached out to the masses to share their favorite Val’s stories.  Here are the first of many we hope to share.

Ric W.

50 years ago I was the Co-manager of NMC Discount Records at the main store in OP. Two of my friends that moved to San Fransisco area called after being victims of a home invasion. I told Val I needed to leave immediately to help them as the husband was in intensive care with 2 collapsed lungs. She knew them well and gave me her blessings. He recovered and needed me as a chauffeur to take him to his job as a recording engineer at Fantasy Studios. Once he was able to get around on his own I hitched hiked to Albuquerque to stay with a friend for a while. After a couple of months I had a vision about what I needed to do next so I called Val and asked if she had a job for me. She did! I was to manage the new NMC Store in Waukegan. Came back on a bus and started my job. A few months later Val called me very early and said NMC was bankrupt and I should go and discretely empty the store of all merchandise and return it to our distributor. Out of work again! Two days later Val called and said she was buying the Oak Park store herself and asked if I would manage it for her. Excited I said yes and started the next day remodeling the store and planning what records to buy for our opening with a very limited budget. And so it began and still is. Val was an amazing friend forever even after I was long gone from the store.

Conor J.

My family moved to Oak Park right as I was finishing high school. Being new in town and, as a recent high school graduate with no job, having no real means of meeting anybody, I was lonely and bored. Because of that and other reasons, it was a pretty depressing point in my life. I started visiting Val’s Halla which quickly became my entire social life. Hanging out with Val and Shayne, talking for hours about Val’s career, music, movies, and just about anything else became my near-daily routine at a time when I sorely needed it. I needed a place where I felt welcomed, and I needed some kind of friendship, and Val’s Halla was there for me. I’ll forever be deeply grateful for the positive impact Val’s Halla had on my life and for Val and Shayne’s friendship.

Tommy N.

Sometime in the late 80s. Or possibly the early 90s. A dearly departed friend of mine and I walked into the store. There was Val. Perched in her normal spot behind the register. Talking loudly on that ancient telephone which was a throwback to another time. Another age. The days before online searching and the internet. She was answering a question from a customer on the other end. What seemed almost surreal. The customer was asking for a series of compilations that was sponsored by a major corporation known as “Jock Jams.” Val, loudly, was exclaiming to the customer.”YOU WANT JOCK JAMS?!? WE GOT JOCK JAMS!!!” My friend and I who both knew Val by this point both bit our lips. Trying to contain our laughter at the complete absurdity of not just the situation, but of the question as well. It was that moment that I realized how much was really on Val’s radar. It wasn’t just the obscure or the rare. It was much more multi-faceted than that. She was a true scholar of music and all its forms, and a colleague that from that moment on shared many a conversation about not just the medium. but the wheels that made it turn. Val will always hold a place in my heart for that, and a smile anytime I think of Jock Jams. Here’s to another 50 years!

Concept: Do You Fear (The Inferno Express?)

In celebration of Val’s 50th, I want to take a moment and recognize the next generation.  These “Youngsters” remind me why I do it.  I’m picking 3 songs each.. One we bonded over, one I inspired and one they turned me on to.


Jaxon is the Spock to my Kirk if Spock got really excited sometimes. Too much “Pon Farr!”

I’m not sure that Val’s would even exist anymore if not for Jaxon! His love for the store and concern for me brought Trevor to the table! He once called himself my “Emotional Support Human” in an interview, and that is not wrong!  It’s hard not to get caught up in his enthusiasm.

His delight when he learned I’m also a fan of Neil Cicierega  is only topped by him pushing Tom Lehrer on everyone!  It’s so reminiscent of me & Val (pause for tears.)

Of the many things i could’ve chosen I went with this.  As a Zappa fan I feel I should’ve known it.  Trevor, his father, was surprised as well! We sold a bunch but only because Jaxon  SOLD IT!

God I love this kid.

Bond: Bustin’

Teach: The Elements

Learn: Monk’s Chant


Lilah is the newest addition to our band of misfits.  She came in and charmed us all with her exuberance and energy.  She’s responsible for the awesome custom mugs we have for sale  (look for her repping the store and selling her wares at What’s Blooming in May!

Her opinions on what constitutes “Dad Rock” may hurt my soul but nonetheless we bonded over Belle & Sebastian and Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and she only had to suggest Poison Girl Friend to me 5 or 6 times before I got around to it (it’s really good.)

Bond: Family Tree

Teach: Sugar Water

Learn: Hardly Ever Smile (Without You)


Armando didn’t log many hours as an “employee” but we sure kept him busy when we could!  A customer since he was a wee one, when he first took to the stage years later I shared a look with his parent’s that wordlessly expressed “Woah what?!”  “I know right?!”

Some people are just designed to command a stage, and while it may seem like an outlandish statement, I think Armando was cut from the same cloth as Freddie Mercury & Prince!

We bonded early on over a mutual love of Zappa and while I can’t take credit for introducing him to Nine Inch Nails, it feels right that almost at the same time he & Jaxon claimed my copies of Pretty Hate Machine and Downward Spiral respectively.

Bond: Willie The Pimp

Teach: Something I Can I Never Have

Learn: I’m Done

Artist: Rilo Kiley
Album: Take Offs And Landings

How it took me this long to write about this record is truly a mystery, as this is one of my all time favorites. This album has some of my favorite songwriting from any indie release. Take Offs And Landings was one of many records that I got introduced to from my dad playing it while on a car trip. I have been in love with this album for a long time, and it never stops to amaze me in every listen. Please check out the song Pictures Of Success, which is one of my all time favorite songs.

Check out the track Pictures Of Success


Artist: Asian Glow
Album: Cull Ficle

2021 was an amazing year for music. There were so many cool releases that I absolutely adore that came out last year, this being one of them. Asian Glow is a really cool Korean artist who’s sound is a Lofi blend of Shoegaze and Emo. The noisy DIY aesthetic of this record feels super authentic, and creates a super unique atmosphere. If you are a fan of The Microphones, this album is a must listen, as there are a lot of moments on this release that feel like they take inspiration from Phil’s work. If you were to check out one song from this project, I would recommend the track Nothing but.

Check out the track Nothing But


Artist: Art Blakey
Album: Drum Suite

This is a very unpopular opinion I know, but this is my personal favorite Art Blakey album. The A side of  the record is a Suite of African inspired tracks, which are super stripped back, and are often just drums. This lets Art Blakey shine and show off his pure talent, while also giving us a super unique sound unlike most other Jazz releases. The B side is some more traditional Hard Bop, but everything is performed super solidly in the way you would come to expect from an Art Blakey record. I would highly recommend this album to anyone who is looking for a unique jazz record.

Check out the track Sacrifice

How Do I Order Music (Or Other Things)?

Val’s is now open again (safely)! Be sure to wear a mask and keep safe social distancing, of course.  Val’s halla has thousands of titles in its Online Store and we continue to add inventory everyday.  Can’t find what you are looking for?  Just let us know and we are happy to look through our off-line inventory of over 50,000 titles.  Also, we place orders with our record distributors every Monday, which means we see them in our store by Tuesday (most of the time).  We sell records (as well as turntables), CDs, cassettes, 8-tracks, DVDs and more.  To get started, you can Click Here to access the Online Store, or fill out the form below to let us know what you are looking for.

What About Delivery?

Val’s is offering Curbside Pickup and No-Contact Delivery Service to customers who live within a 5-mile radius of the Oak Park Arts District. Orders can also be shipped to customers outside that radius for a flat fee of $5.  Order as much as you want – still $5 shipping! Stay safe and be well!

What Are You Looking For?