BROWSING AT FLIP SIDE RECORDS

On June 7, 1976, a record store called Flip Side (or, sometimes, The Flipside) opened at 2348 W. Higgins Road in the Barrington Square Mall at Higgins Road and Barrington Road in Hoffman Estates.  The Flip Side records chain (1971-1991) which was also headquartered at this location, had twelve stores in the Chicago area (25 in the Midwest) in the 1970s and was owned by Larry and Carl Rosenbaum.  The company was also involved in Celebration – Flip Side productions, one of Chicago’s largest concert promotion agencies presenting live concerts at major venues through the mid-1980s.

When the store opened at the mall, they joined other retailers such as Robert Hall Village, Dominick’s, Hallmark’s Family Tree, Edie Adams’ Cut & Curl, Citadel Realtors and Garibaldi’s–the only store that is still there.  The Flip Side sold an array of records and tapes, music-related merchandise, electronics and a full line of clothing and shoes.

They also acted as a Ticketron outlet for purchasing tickets for Chicago-area concerts.  In addition, they participated in promotions with various radio stations such as the Loop.  One of these promotions from 1981 encouraged Loop listeners to pick up a bumper sticker at Flip Side Records and other stores.  Customers were then given a Maxell coupon and encouraged to advertise the Loop on their cars.

Over the years they also sponsored music and show business acts at their stores.  (It probably didn’t hurt that Poplar Creek was in such close proximity.)  Some who made appearances at the Hoffman Estates location were:

  • Debbie Boone
  • Ozzy Osbourne
  • Wierd Al Yankovic
  • members of the group Yes
  • Lenny & Squiggy of “Laverne and Shirley” fame

Ozzy Osbourne and his band even spent a Halloween at the store where Scott Loftus of WVVX (Rock 103) did his show live.  And, when Leif Garret made an appearance in 1978, hundreds of teenagers filled the mall waiting for him to appear.  When his limo drove up, “a sea of fans raced into the parking lot toward the car, which sped to beat them around the corner of the mall and to the back entrance.”  (Daily Herald, April 21, 1978)

The day after John Lennon’s death also saw their business skyrocket.  The manager of the store told the Daily Herald, “This has been going on all day.  Before I opened the store there were three people waiting outside.  I can’t believe the business we’re doing today.”

With the changes in the music industry, the chain eventually went out of business around 1992.   If you frequented this store, did you have a favorite purchase?  Were you one of those who got an autograph from a performer?  Or, did you just like to hang out at Barrington Square, cruising between the movie theater, Garibaldis and the Flip Side?
Any input is good!

Tom Holmberg, Reference Librarian
Jane Rozek, Local History Librarian

Sources used in composing this posting were the Daily Herald, Chicago Tribune, andhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoffman_Estates_v._The_Flipside,_Hoffman_Estates,_Inc.

You can also take a look at the exterior of the store here on the Chicago Tribune’s website.

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6 Responses to “BROWSING AT FLIP SIDE RECORDS”

  1. debby miller Says:

    One interesting sidelight – during that time the village attempted to close the store because they also sold drug paraphernalia. Flipside took the issue to court. I was in the audience for the U.S. Supreme Court’s oral arguments and the village attorney, Dick Williams was brilliant. Of course the village won the case and Flipside closed.

    • jrozek Says:

      Within a month of opening their store, the Daily Herald had an article on July 14, 1976 that stated the village was addressing their concerns about Flipside’s sales of pot-smoking paraphernalia. In order to halt the sale of this type of merchandise, on February 20, 1978, the Village of Hoffman Estates Board of Trustees enacted an ordinance “Providing for Regulation of Items Designed or Marketed for Use with Illegal Cannabis or Drugs,” to be effective May 1, 1978. The Hoffman Estates law didn’t ban the sale outright, rather it required a store selling this type of material to obtain a license for $150, the store had to file affidavits attesting that none of its employees had been convicted of a drug-related offense and maintain a register of all items sold and the name and address of the purchasers which would be available to the police for a two year period. It also banned the sale of paraphernalia to minors and provided for up to $500 in fine for a violation, and each day that a violation continued was deemed a separate offense.

      Flip Side cleared the merchandise from its Hoffman Estates store and sued the village in US District Court over the new ordinance. Flip Side argued that the ordinance was too vague and overbroad to determine what items were covered. For instance, items like cigarette papers were sold in drug store and other locales. The Hoffman Estates ordinance was upheld by the court in 1980. Larry Rosenbaum told the Daily Herald that records and tapes were the stores’ chief business and the paraphernalia accounted for only fifteen percent of the company’s sales.

      While a 1981 US Court of Appeals found for Flip Side, ruling the ordinance to be too vague, the case eventually went to the US Supreme Court, which unanimously upheld the village’s argument in 1982. With their ordinance upheld, other communities looked to the Hoffman Estates law as a model for their own efforts to restrict so-called “headshops” and other sellers of drug paraphernalia. One law journal noted that after the Hoffman Estates case was decided “no business challenged a drug-paraphernalia ordinance on constitutional grounds.” The DEA later stated that “thousands of paraphernalia shops were literally legislated out of business” due to these types of local ordinances.

      Despite the ruling, Flipside Records remained in Hoffman Estates for another ten years until its closing around the year 1992.

      Tom Holmberg
      Jane Rozek

  2. david shapiro Says:

    grew up going to the elk grove village flip side on the corner of oakton and busse. bought all my first concert tickets there, first records. every kid at grove jr high 79-82 owned 10 of their flip side one sided band shirts. can’t find them anywhere, not even with the google. went to the ozzy event too, what a trip. loved those record stores!

  3. Liz K Says:

    My mom shopped at Dominick’s in Barrington Square, and I can remember seeing long lines of young people originating from Flipside waiting to either buy concert tickets or waiting to get an autograph or picture with someone famous.
    My brother used to go to Flipside all the time. Flipside and Rose Records in Schaumburg were the places to go to for music back in the ’70s and ’80s.

  4. !hype 2015 Says:

    I used to work at Flip Side for many years at the Buffalo Grove store. I loved Flip Side because for many years they had the lowest record prices of any chain with the Top 25 always on sale. Back in the day they were $3.99 and $4.99 for an album. Amazing. When I worked there the owners were extremely kind as was their entire families. When I quit they had raised their prices to almost list price and discontinued their sales. I think this affected them a lot and made me very disappointed to say the least. If they kept that Top 25 on sale and had their specials I believe they would be around today. Working there was always fun. I think their Hoffman Estates store and Buffalo Grove and Palatine were some of their best stores. They treated their employees very well. I think our store in Buffalo Grove had so many loyal customers and I miss them. I miss my co-workers. We got so many posters and promos and were exposed to so much great music.

    The owners Carl and Larry loved music, loved business, loved concerts. I was one of their I think most liberal employees and they were open to a lot, but they ran their businesses smart when I worked there. After I left their prices went way up and the stores took a different feel. I think I worked there in the best of times 1979 to 1984. I met so many great co-workers to this day I have the most fond memories. Carl’s kids in 1984 started to work at the store and they were beyond cool. When I was first hired there was another friend Barry B., who worked there too – we argued a lot – but we both had a wonderful loyalty to Flip Side – we loved that store. I would disagree with him a lot but he like myself LOVED Flip Side. I admired him for that – I hope he did me. We loved Flip Side. It was a great record store with amazing customers – the owners were so nice and I loved them.

    The store in Buffalo Grove was run so well (thank you Laurie, Connie, Joe, Wendy, Judy) we were a team. I liked our store better than all the others. God bless all the workers and customers – you were all amazing. Thank you Carl and Larry for having one of the best record stores in history. You really were the best. Especially from 1979 to 1983 when you had so much on sale – no store could compete until you later let them.

    Flip Side was Tower before Tower Records. They were the best – they were what every record store WISHED they could be. I miss Flip Side. I miss Carl & Larry – I miss the good old days – I still make music today. Flip Side in Hoffman Estates was amazing too – great store as well. Flip Side in the Chicago area was the BEST stores between 1977 to about 1983. They were the rulers and really was one of the best experiences of my life – shout outs to Carl & Larry – what a great record store – sorry they are no longer – they were amazing. Life transforming I think not only for the workers but the customers – met so many amazing people working there. Fantastic stores. FLIP SIDE should come back. Kevin?

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