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Historic Woodstock music store moves online only

by: Merry MacKinnon, After five and a half years at its latest retail location, on S.E. 47th Avenue, just north of Woodstock Boulevard, “For What It’s Worth Records and Tapes” closed for good last month.  Owner John Gregos, who lives in Sellwood, will focus entirely on his mail-order music business.

At the end of February, an era ended.

John Gregos, the owner of what once was possibly the best-known music store in the Pacific Northwest, 'For What It's Worth Records and Tapes', permanently closed the doors of the business next to Pizza Roma in Woodstock, a location to which it had moved from the Canyon Road area half a decade ago.

'We're closing, man,' Gregos informed a customer at the shop last month, a place where he sold mostly vinyl records and CDs of hard-to-find rock, heavy metal, blues, and jazz acts.

'We can't afford the overhead,' Gregos explained, referring to the $7,000 in rent, taxes, and salaries he spent monthly to run the store. Plus, he added, he no longer wanted to commit to a yearly lease. His landlord gave him 30-days notice, Gregos said. He'd be out by the end of February.

But though Woodstock Boulevard has lost a vestige of an era rooted in the counterculture movement of the early 1970s, Gregos has no intention of walking away from a business he's owned all his adult life. 'We're gonna go strictly mail order,' he said.

His funky shop might not have been booming, but the online mail-order business that he's been operating for over 10 years in parallel with it has grown by leaps and bounds, Gregos reported. 'The only thing I'm closing out is the smoke shop,' he said, referring to the pipes and rolling papers in the store's back room. Various state restrictions make mail-ordering that end of his retail business too gnarly, he explained.

Gregos still faces some problems, such as finding a warehouse in which to store his inventory of tapes, CDs, records, DVDs, and videos he'll be selling online. 'I'm hurtin' right now. I may have to store this stuff at my house,' he said, referring to his home in Sellwood.

As for all the vintage posters hanging on the walls, many of them inscribed to Gregos and signed by famous musicians, those treasures are probably headed for sale on eBay. 'I can get big dollars for the posters, like the Zappa, and Neil Young,' said Gregos. 'I want $500 to $1,000 each.'

Meanwhile, his Internet website--www.fwiwimports.com, with its 27 music categories--includes a wide selection of new and used CDs, from Cajun to Celtic. Gregos ships to customers all over the world. 'I sell to Europe and South America.'

After five and a half years in Woodstock, he just won't have a retail store anymore.