Main Street Records

                               Downtown Mt. Vernon, Illinois


 A normal display at Main Street records.

 Note the CDs that are available. "Who's next" from the Who. Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, Buffalo Springfield, The Doors and Woodstock '99.


 Check out the possibilities at Main Street Records, downtown Mt. Vernon.

 Main Street Records in downtown Mt. Vernon should be the FIRST place you look for classic, commemorative, rock t-shirts.

 The Beatles, Johnny Cash, The Grateful Dead, Farm. Main Street Records has them or can get them.

 Cover yourself with classic t-shirts from Main Street Records, downtown Mt. Vernon, Illinois.


  Blaze Ellis behind the counter at Main Street Records.

           Farm out!



    Main Street Records survives changes in technology






MT. VERNON - Even though it hasn't been on Main St. in the King City for many years, Main Street Records continues to adapt to the ever-changing modern-day technologies that put so many other stores of like it out of business over the last decade.

Main Street Records, which opened in 1978, was originally owned and operated by Steve and Cathy Allen. The store has traditionally sold new and used records, then, consequentally compact discs.

The store's original location was near the intersection of 12th St. and Main St. in downtown Mt. Vernon.

In 1985, the store was sold to Danny and Gina Kabat, who operated the business for a few months before selling the store to Cletus and Callie Rapp.

The Rapps ran the store until May 1989, when John Ellis, the current owner, wanted to get into the record store business.

"When the Rapp's had the store, they moved it from the original location to what is now a parking lot behind the YMCA fitness center," said Ellis. "It was a block away on the other side of the street, but, they were still on Main Street."

Ellis said that he was only in his new venture for two months when he found out that he was going to have to move the store, due to the impending changes that were about to take place with the property.

"The owner came by one day and said, 'hey, I'm going to tear this building down,'" Ellis said. "He said, 'you're going to have to find someplace else to rent and I've got just the place for you.' But that didn't work out."

Ellis found his current location had recently been vacated. The building was originally known as Fenton's Music Store and had also been the home of Musicmania, until the latter moved to Times Square Mall.

"We had to move almost immediately," Ellis said. "We were here in this location by June of '89."

As with any move by a business to a new location, the customers may have to find it.

"It took a while for people to find us, because they took the original buidling down very quickly," said Ellis. "It's now a parking lot for First Methodist Church."

Due in part to its' unique-ness, Main Street Records had become well-known around the area.

"We kind of struggled for a couple of years," Ellis said. "But, then it really took-off. Until the internet came along and slowed us down. At that time, in the mid-90s, there wasn't any other store in Southern Illinois like us."

Main Street Records survived the changing from vinyl records to compact discs, but further technological advances have caused music sales to plummet.

Ellis said that his store is not the only one that has felt the shift in the way that the general public now acquires music.

"The internet has hurt every music store in the nation," Ellis said. "Now, you can download it, trade it, or buy it. Although there a still a few die-hards who want to come in and buy music at a regular store, most of the kids have computers now and they use them. I read recently that 80 per-cent of the music stores like this are now gone, compared to the number from years ago."

The few stores that are still in business have had to change in order to stay in business. Part of that included conceding that recorded music is no longer what brings customers in.

"10 years ago, I told by another music store owner that the new records and CD's have now become just another convenience for the regular customers," said Ellis. "So, we were making more money selling used merchandise than selling new. The other part of it is the large number of pawn shops that have opened up in the last few years. They have taken away some of the business, too."

Ellis said that tee-shirts remain the priority for the store, since that merchandise was not adversely affected.

As a matter of fact, Ellis said that sales of music and tee-shirts were pretty much equal, even 10 years ago. Now, he says that music accounts for less than 10 per-cent of his total sales.

"The whole business has completely 'morphed'," said Ellis. "But, the tee-shirts have remained consistent. The shirts are the draw now, while the music is just 'there'."