A Music Lover’s Heaven…Outside Milwaukee

Once a year, we pack up a rental car and head northwest to the beautiful state of Wisconsin. Most of Dean’s family lives there, and we go to visit with his mother for a week or so. This year was no exception. In fact, we just got back from our annual trip and, as usual, we returned with a ton of new music.

If you are “old school” and prefer your music on actual disks, whether they be vinyl or CD, then you will appreciate what I’m about to tell you.

Just outside of Milwaukee in the city of Greenfield you will find a ton of shopping opportunities. There are stores and restaurants all along S. 76th Street, including Southridge Mall, a big free-standing Barnes & Noble, Kopp’s Frozen Custard (a must, I tell you), and the many stores in the Greenfield Shopping Center.

Sitting nearest the far end of this shopping center you will find The Exclusive Company, a store that bills itself as “America’s Oldest Full-Line Independent Record Store.” The company has a slew of shops strewn all across Wisconsin from Milwaukee to Green Bay to Janesville, and some points in between. Today I’ll be sharing about our experiences at the Greenfield location.

For those of us old enough to remember the record stores of old, The Exclusive Company is a breath of fresh air. The store hearkens back to days of yore when yours truly would eagerly peruse the aisles at Atlanta’s Turtles record shops, looking for the latest releases on LP and 45 singles. Ah, those good old days.

When you step into the door here at the Greenfield location of The Exclusive Company, you are met with a sweet smell of incense. Just inside the front door are various freebie papers and postcards. Once you open the second door, you find yourself in a music lover’s heaven. Vinyl records line the right hand side of the store. In front of you stand racks of sale CDs. To your left you see the cashier desk, magazines and record supplies. Behind the cashier desk are all manner of collectible stickers, records, CDs, and videos.

Then, just beyond all of this, you find the CD mother lode.

Categorized in an easy-to-find manner, the CDs are housed on the main sales floor. You will notice that there are shelves above the racks. Check the shelves first. These are the used CDs and they are priced very competitively. Look for your selection on the used shelves before you look at the racks.

But when you do look at the racks, you will be surprised.

The prices of new music on CD at The Exclusive Company are extremely reasonable.

Maybe it’s because they can buy so much in bulk to stock all of their seven locations? Not sure, really, but it’s the price range and incredible selection that keeps us shopping here year after year.

Our tastes run the gamut from hard rock to blues to jazz to almost everything else in between. In the very back of the store, you will find an area devoted to heavy metal. It’s even dark and spooky there, with lots of music and memorabilia to choose from.

That’s a testament, I think, to the buyers at The Exclusive Company. There’s no denying it. These people know what they’re doing.

There is never a time we walk into this store and leave empty-handed. Oh, and I can’t possibly forget to mention the extremely helpful staff that work there. The guys are all amazing and seem to enjoy their jobs selling music.

I can’t speak for you or for others, but as for me I would much rather support a local business than a massive organization like Amazon. Dean and I make a list of new and old albums we would like to get and keep a running tally for our annual trip up to Wisconsin. This year we struck it rich, music-wise.

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We found 18 disks that we hoped to find, some of them older releases and the rest released in 2016. Never before have we scored so much music at one time. After this shopping spree, our CD collection is now just 2 shy of 1,600.

Believe it or not, we couldn’t find anything by the Smithereens. (That subject alone deserves its own blog post.)

I don’t want to disclose the amount of coin we dropped on this stash, but here are the receipts minus dollar figures.

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(Now you have a bit of an idea where our tastes in music lie. Maybe I will write some reviews on these. Let me know in the comments if this would be of interest to you.)

If you ever find yourself in the upper Midwest, rolling through the green farm fields of Wisconsin, look up a nearby location of The Exclusive Company and drop in for a bit. I’m sure you will be thanking me as you walk out with some truly amazing finds.

(All photos were taken by and belong to Francie Klopotic.)

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