Music-loving hearts broke throughout Oak Park and the surrounding area earlier this month after the general manager of beloved record store Val's halla, 239 Harrison St., announced its impending closure in a Facebook post.
"It breaks my heart to announce this but unfortunately Val's halla will be closing its doors at the end of the month," the post read on Nov. 2.
A testament to the major impact Val's had on the community, news outlets all over the metro area reported on the announcement. People lamented that, with the end of Val's, came the end of an era.
But, those mourning Val's can now rejoice, as the store will not be closing after all. General Manager Shayne Blakeley revealed the good news on Nov. 15 on Facebook, writing, "Rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated! Val's halla is getting a new lease on life!"
Blakeley credits loyal customer and River Forest resident Trevor Toppen for coming to the record store's rescue, calling him the store's "guardian angel." Toppen's son helps out at the store.
"I have a lot to be thankful for," said Blakeley. "It's a Thanksgiving miracle."
According to Blakeley, Toppen couldn't bear to see Val's halla end in such an "unceremonious" fashion because it "means too much to too many people."
The debt-laden record store isn't completely out of the woods yet. Blakeley said he and Toppen plan to work together to keep costs down and streamline the business.
Blakeley said Val's halla needs the help of the community to ensure that Toppen's intervention doesn't become just a temporary reprieve from closure for the store. Its future depends on its fan base.
"The onus is on the community," said Blakeley. "Put your money where your mouth is."
This post has been edited to fix a minor typo.
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