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For What It's Worth record store closes after 30 years

by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - John Gregos of For What Its Worth Records shows off a collection that includes several one-of-a-kind examples of rock memorabilia.John Gregos has done everything from running the top-selling record store in three states to going backstage with Stevie Ray Vaughan and becoming friends with the Grateful Dead’s official photographer.

Now his For What It’s Worth Records is finally calling it quits after 40 years with a 75 percent-off, going-out-of-business sale at 11211 S.E. 82nd Ave., Clackamas, liquidating tens of thousands of LPs, CDs and cassettes.

For his first store, Gregos remembers taking over a waterbed warehouse on McLoughlin Boulevard just south of Milwaukie. He filled thousands of square feet there with eight-tracks and albums in 1972, but also had a major setback that year.

by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - For What Its Worth Records is marking everything off (now by 75 percent since this photo was taken) as it finally calls it quits.“One day I came into the store, and the whole store was empty after someone cut a hole through the ceiling and took everything out,” he said. “We had to get a truckload of replacement inventory and put in an emergency insurance claim.”

At its peak in 1980, For What It’s Worth was the No. 1 store in Oregon, Washington and Alaska, and its annual sales were more than $1.5 million.

“Pretty much every major act that came through did signings at our store, and we sponsored the Monsters of Rock Tour,” Gregos said.

With its large library of hard-to-find collectors’ pieces focusing on classic rock, blues and country, For What It’s Worth weathered the introduction of Napster and other music-sharing sites during the 1990s. To no avail, Gregos tried to get music executives to allow record stores to feature kiosks where customers could listen to and cheaply download music.

“The thing that we had going for us was that a lot of the albums we had weren’t available on any downloadable database,” he said. “Once the shipping rates went up for overseas mailing of albums a few years ago, the death knell sounded. Now there’s pretty much no reason for anyone to buy music.”

Charles Topping of Clackamas visited the closing sale recently and was impressed with the variety of albums available.

“I guess it’s tough to be in the music business now, but I’m buying a couple CDs, because that’s what I like to listen to,” Topping said.

The store is between Southeast Johnson Creek Boulevard and Sunnyside Road, in the same shopping complex as Old Chicago. The store hours, at least through the end of May, are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.



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