Val's Halla Records closing after 47-year run in Oak Park, one of region's last independent record stores

OAK PARK (WLS) -- Val's Halla Records in Oak Park is one of the last independent record stores in the Chicago area. At the end of this month, it could be closing.

After opening in 1972 at a different location in Oak Park, the store became legendary in large part due founder Val Camilletti's engaging personality.

"There will never be another Val," said general manager Shayne Blakeley. "She was at once an old sage and ageless. She could connect with anyone in any age group with an interest in anything."

Blakeley was Val's employee for 20 years before she died in June last year, when he took over and became the sole employee.

With the store, Blakeley inherited major financial troubles.

"It was no question that we'd been struggling for a long time," Blakeley said. "I didn't quite know how bad it was."

Since announcing the closing in the past month, the store has seen a barrage of media attention and patronage that he'd been missing for years.

"The entire concept is heartbreaking, of course. You know this place means the world to me. It has been my world for two decades," Blakeley said.

"If a miracle happens between now and then, I hope that I get as much attention on that note as I get for potentially closing the store."

If Val's Halla does shut down at the end of the month, it will mark the end of a 47-year run in Oak Park.
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