Beverly Records Withstands the Test of Time 

By Tim Moran  

 

BAPA’s Icon Collection is a series that celebrates our Iconic local businesses that have called Beverly/Morgan Park home for decades. We want to share the history of their business, the families that built them and the unique stories they want to share. 

  

In the late 1960s, collectable records didn’t really exist.  

“Not many genres were considered collectible at the time,” said John Dreznes, owner of the Beverly Records shop that has been dishing out vinyl at 11612 S. Western Ave. since that era.  

But the founder of the shop, Dreznes’ grandmother, Christine Dreznes, “didn’t know a Monkee from a Beatle,” her grandson said. The Beatles and the Monkees were two of the most well-known music groups of the era, making that the equivalent of someone not knowing who Taylor Swift or Beyonce are today.  

“She wasn’t a music collector,” John Dreznes said of his grandmother. “The store really came about for any other reason than the city politics in 1967 getting off the charts. In this time, there’s the Vietnam War, the draft and all this political uncertainty.” 

Dreznes’ grandfather, also named John Dreznes, told Christine she “needed to get her mind off this.”  

“So she was driving down Western Avenue, saw a novelty shop at 117th Street that was for sale for $3,700 and bought it,” the third-generation Dreznes said. “My grandpa had a full-time job and asked grandma to run it even though she had no business experience at all.”  

That decision paved the way for more than a half-century of success for Beverly Records, which moved one block north of its original location in 1968, one year after it opened in the novelty shop space.  

The record shop has withstood the test of time, from the era where vintage records didn’t exist, through the years when they were considered obsolete to now, when owning a piece of vinyl is trendy again. Albums that are now considered classics weren’t even recorded yet when the place opened.  

“We thought we’d be done when musicians stopped making records in 1990,” Dreznes said. “But then we saw people giving up their record collections, and we’d take them for pennies on the dollar. They wanted to replace them with CDs, so we’d start selling CDs too. By 2005, we had all these awesome vinyl records that no one wanted, and dad (Jack Dreznes) said we would only have 10 years left before we’d have to close.”  

But suddenly, the record industry “kinda became cool,” John Dreznes said.  

“Pop culture started embracing it again, making it that if you are in music, you need to have vinyl records.”  

What Christine Dreznes lacked in music or business knowledge, she more than made up for in charisma.  

“She was very easy to talk to,” her grandson said. “When people came in when it was still a novelty shop, she’d naturally start conversations with them. She wouldn’t know what song they were looking for but would write it down and ask someone who did.”  

When Jack Dreznes, John’s father, returned from the Army in 1974, he noticed the store’s potential.  

“He sees that all it needs is the management to make money and goes into business with grandma as she’s the personality of the store,” John said. “Then, for 20 years from 1974 to 1994, we had locations all over the city.”  

Throughout its history, Beverly Records has been a family-run business. It’s currently managed by John, his father, Jack Dreznes, and his uncle, Randy Dreznes. Joey Lemus is the only regular employee not in the family.  

“Joey is the new guy,” John said. “He started with us in 1979.”  

Mike Schaller and Dan Ferone have also helped out on and off through the years.  

Having been around longer than he has, the shop has produced so many memories in John Dreznes that he’s unable to pick out a particular one. It’s the people who come in, and the only neighborhood where he says this business model could work, that comes to mind.  

“Customers become friends, then they are basically family after so many years,” he said. “There’s no other place in the world where something like this would survive. Not only Beverly, but Blue Island, Mount Greenwood and Morgan Park. We’re in the perfect spot in the perfect neighborhood.”  

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