The Exclusive Company in downtown West Bend will celebration Record Store Day this Saturday, April 16.
In West Bend, The Exclusive Co. has carried the torch for vinyl records. But some predecessors that served the musical beat for groovy chicks and hippy dudes in West Bend included places like Loomans & Hicken and Plischounigs on Main Street.
Jeanne Mueller was about 20 years old when she worked as a clerk at Plischounigs in the early 1950s.
“It was just one big store and Mr. Plischounig had his records in the back and that department grew so much he moved it downstairs and filled the whole basement with records,” said Mueller.
Selections at Plischounigs included Elvis, the Beatles, and Liberace.
“Mr. Plischounig took a coffee break twice a day; by 10 o’clock he’d stand and look around and say, where is she now and I’d run downstairs and straighten up.
“Most of the time when I was down there, we’d have something playing on the turntable,” said Mueller.
Frank and Elizabeth (Betty for short) Plischounig owned the department store which featured glassware and greeting cards on the street-level, along with clothing and underwear.
Upstairs, the Plischounig’s lived in a small apartment and in the basement – records.
“I unpacked all the music downstairs and I’d tell Mr. Plischounig which album I’d like and he’d give me a break on buying it,” said Mueller.
A 45-RPM record cost 99 cents and albums were between $4 and $5. “Mr. Plischounig liked music too,” said Mueller. “If a new album came in, I’d put it on the turntable just to see what it was like so I could talk about it.
“By playing it once you haven’t wrecked it but if somebody would say, “this isn’t sealed” I’d tell them we tested it to make sure it didn’t have any flaws,” said Mueller.
On a side note, while growing up in a family of nine we had a phonograph in the dining room. When it was raining (in order to keep us quiet and help maintain her sanity) my mom would put on Peter and the Wolf. We’d listen to Peter’s adventures with “Sasha” the bird, “Sonia” the duck, and “Ivan” the cat. It was mesmerizing. During my teen years the dining room was headquarters for after-school homework. By then we advanced to a stereo system with turntable, 8 track and cassette player. My sister would crank Sammy Hagar and Billy Squire. She said she needed it loud so she wouldn’t be distracted my ‘arm scratching’ across the table. Oh how I miss those teen years and being agitated about everything.
Photo courtesy Washington County Historical Society.