New record store, and its passionate owners, provide hub for music lovers


Gabriel Issa

A customer digs through record bins at the opening event for Miyagi records on April 15th.

Taariq Ahmed, Reporter

As gentle, crisp music drifts from the high wall speakers, enthusiastic customers bounce across the Persian carpet, sifting through plastic-wrapped vinyl records, sorted into bins resting on navy blue wooden furniture. Miyagi Records, a record store, opened April 14 at the heart of Washington Park, just off East Garfield Boulevard. 

The store partners with the Creative Entrepreneurship Program of the Rebuild Foundation, founded and directed by Theaster Gates, a University of Chicago professor. The Rebuild Foundation aims to showcase cultural contributions from creators who are Black, Indigenous or people of color. Miyagi Records also emerges at a time when vinyl records appear to be experiencing a resurgence within the music consumer forefront.

After initially operating as pop-up traders, founders Marco Jacobo and Nigel Ridegway, both former musicians and longtime record collectors, said that having a permanent brick and mortar location for the business is a step forward.

“I can speak for the both of us when I say one of the dreams of record collectors is to someday be sitting around in their own shop, listening to records and talking about records with people,” Mr. Jacobo said. “Nigel started this in a storage unit during COVID, and it grew into what we’re standing in now.”

Mr. Jacobo said they received immense anticipation with the store’s recent opening and during Record Store Day on April 22, a global celebration of independently owned record stores, which received substantial attention across Chicago.

“I actually haven’t thought about the transition until the last couple of days,” Mr. Jacobo said. “The first week was just hectic — people coming in and out for the opening weekend.”

Mr. Ridgeway said they ran into numerous obstacles while attempting to start up the store.

“There’s like three crunch points: time, money and labor,” Mr. Ridgeway said. “What we needed was pretty specific since the space had to be a certain size for the sound system. But Theaster Gates helped us through a lot of steps to get here.”

Mr. Jacobo said they wish for Miyagi Records to become a staple in the Chicago-area music trade scene. The pair also said they hope that despite how digital formats like streaming have transformed music, people will maintain and develop an interest in vinyl records.

“There’s nothing tangible nowadays, to hold and collect, while you’re listening to music on Spotify and YouTube,” Mr. Jacobo said, “but records are special. For people who appreciate music, they’re something cool to get into and check out.”