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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Same-sex couple rocks records at Rattleback
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2019-01-16

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There's a new retailer in town, called Rattlebake Records, located in Andersonville at 5405 N. Clark St. Husband-and-husband team Paul Ruffino and Mike Weaver opened the place recently and it features vinyl, CDs, cassettes, movies and retro novelties for the home.

Windy City Times talked with half of the couple, Paul Ruffino, about the new business.

Windy City Times: Where are you from, originally?

Paul Ruffino: From Chicago. I went to Taft High School, on the Northwest Side.

WCT: Was it like a musical there?

PR: It did have a big musical-theater program.

WCT: Were you the Sandra Dee in school?

PR: I would say so. Wouldn't you? Maybe, more like Rizzo…

WCT: When did you first start selling music?

PR: I first got a job at Musicland. That was my first foray into retail music. I worked there as a manager for a number of years.

I was recruited by Second Hand Tunes. The owner had a habit of sending letters to Musicland stores, addressed to the manager, asking if they wanted to work for him. I called him and ended up working there for seven years.

While I was there, I got a degree in teaching. I moved to California and taught for five years. I eventually became a principal in Skokie.

WCT: Why did you quit teaching?

PR: I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease after being sick often. I could no longer be around kids with the medication I was taking that gave me a suppressed immune system. I had to step away from education in June of 2017.

I told Mike I always wanted to have my own store so we did it.

WCT: Where did the name Rattleback Records come from?

PR: Rattleback is an ancient top that spins in one direction—but if spun from the other direction, it actually rattles and will start spinning in the other direction again. It defies the laws of physics and is a scientific curiosity. I wanted the name to have a different kind of spin to it.

WCT: How long was the process of creating a record store?

PR: We started looking at places in July of this year. I love records, garage sales and music. I wanted to marry it all together.

WCT: Do you have trouble letting go of any items?

PR: I still have my personal collection at home. I thought I would have a tougher time, but eventually just let stuff go. We need the money!

Mike is very happy to have his office back and not have piles of records everywhere.

WCT: With the younger culture embracing vinyl again, is this good timing for the store?

PR: Yes, it is. We have records, DVDs, CDs, 45s and cassette tapes. New releases are now released on vinyl and cassette. I don't even know what people are playing these things on. It's crazy!

Since we have been open, vinyl is the lion's share of what is selling.

WCT: What about selling clothing?

PR: I have some vintage concert T-shirts that I will put out. If I had the space for more clothing I would go for it.

I have a lot of posters and prints, so we will do a wire across the ceiling to hang them on.

WCT: Are there other employees?

PR: No, it is just me and Mike running it. There has been some help from family and friends that have been really supportive. Sometimes after a full day of work my friends will come in and stock the shelves or price.

WCT: Where do you live these days?

PR: We live in Edgewater. It is five minutes from here so we love that. We have always been connected to this community, but now that we have this store we feel connected even more.

WCT: What are you plans for the future?

PR: Giving back to the LGBT community is really important to me. I would love to get local musicians together to make cover songs that are gender ambiguous themed. I want to start a Rattleback Records label to release it on. I would love the proceeds to go to the trans community.

Visit RattlebackRecords.com for store hours and information.


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