GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — The Exclusive Company has been a hub for music lovers in Green Bay for generations, first opening its doors in 1985. Now, many customers will soon have to say goodbye to their favorite local music spot. This month, the Wisconsin chain announced it would close all of its stores following a liquidation sale.
"It was kind of a shock. It's been here forever pretty much," said Steven Lichin, a customer who's been visiting the store for the past 8 years. “You hear your parents talk about the place you know 'Is that store still there?' Yeah it’s still there.”
Customers shared their favorite memories of the store during its Record Store Day sale on April 23rd. Customers waited in line as 20 people were let in to shop for 15 minutes at a time.
“I got a record player for Christmas from my dad who’s super into music," said Colton Coulombe, another regular customer. "This is the only record store that he would buy at in the area so we started coming here.”
Store manager Tom Smith has been managing the store for the past 27 years.
"Working at a record store is literally the only job I ever wanted and I’ve only ever had two jobs in my life and they’ve both been at record stores,” Smith said. "I just love working with music, I love interacting with people who love music."
Smith says what makes The Exclusive Company unique is its support for local artists and wide variety of non-mainstream music, which he credits to the chain's owner, James Giombetti.
"He let you stock what you wanted and you had a pretty healthy budget, that's why we had such a large and deep selection," Smith said. "That's why we also try to have genres that a lot of stores wouldn't stock or specialize in."
Customers say that what makes The Exclusive Company special is the personal touch of getting to know the store’s employees.
“It’s more personal because they actually run this, they do the catalogs, they put it out, they make all the displays, it’s like their own thing really,” Coulombe said.
"A lot of them are like family members, like children of families, they draw me cool pictures of Joey Ramone and stuff,” Smith said.
While the store’s closing came as a shock for customers and employees alike, Smith says the memories he’s made at the store will always stick with him.
"That’s why I’ve been able to stay energized and not let retail make me too jaded and cynical, because of my love of music and the great customers who shop here,” Smith said.