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REAL ESTATE | The Exclusive Co. in West Bend, WI SOLD – Welcome ‘Beat Goes on Records & More’

West Bend, WI – Change is in the works as a landmark business, The Exclusive Co. in West Bend, WI has been sold to Joe and Mary Zaremba of West Bend.

The new store, “Beat Goes on Records & More” is described as an “Independent record store, we carry new and pre-owned music and movies along with audio equipment, record accessories, books, t-shirts, incense and more”

Below is a portion of the post from The Exclusive Co.

Sadly, after 66 years in downtown West Bend, The Exclusive Company is closing.

To all of the wonderful people in West Bend we say thank you.  Without you there never would have been an Exclusive Company.  We have loved every minute of serving the West Bend community, and we sincerely appreciate your loyal support over the many years and decades.  Our very first store opened in West Bend in March of 1956.  Though we expanded to other cities throughout Wisconsin, West Bend will always be known as the “Home of The Exclusive Company.”  Click HERE to read the rest of the story.

A message posted on social media reads:
We’re very excited to announce that on April 6, the Exclusive Company West Bend store will re-open as “Beat Goes On Records and More” (Get it?) to ensure we keep this iconic Downtown West Bend business where it belongs! Our goal is to keep serving the music lovers In this music-loving community, and continue the tradition of selection, quality and service we’ve all come to love and expect. We also have some new ideas to engage the community more, and partner with our downtown neighbors and other organizations and businesses – all with the hope that we do our part to help make West Bend and Washington County a cool, music-relevant destination! Thank you, Exclusive Company, for all of your amazing help during this transition, thank you Jesse, Mikaela and Jason for sticking with us to help ensure continued success with your experience, knowledge and care. We’ve been customers since the 80s, passion for music runs in the family, and we are ready to have some FUN!
Thank you,
Joe, Mary, Tommy and Lyla Zaremba
PS. RECORD STORE DAY IS APRIL 23 – SEE YOU THERE (IF NOT SOONER)!
There’s a lot of history behind one of the landmark businesses on N. Main Street in downtown West Bend, WI. Believe it or not The Exclusive Company had a couple name variations, locations, and specialty services as it blossomed downtown.

In 1959 the Tel-a-City Directory listed The Exclusive Record-Shop at 146 N. Main Street. The phone number was listed as FE 4-7101.

Other local businesses in that era included City Bakery, Bob Boltz Photographer, Peters Resort, Koth’s Motel, and Meyer’s Cigar & Newsstand at 219 S. Main Street.

Exclusive Co.

Jack Bandy recalls the original Exclusive store at the southwest corner of where Elm Street once intersected Main Street. Bandy said the store “not only sold Magnavox (Philips) hifis, but it was THE record shop in West Bend.”

beat

Dennis Benn was a longtime manager at The Exclusive Co. Often described as “a West Bend legend.”  Benn impressed many patrons with his easy-going demeanor, knowledge of music, and his ability to mimic an oncoming train.

Bob Bonenfant, a local radio icon, said his favorite memories of the Exclusive Co. involved Maxwell Street Day. “Back in the day we actually had a Maxwell Street Day,” said Bonenfant.  “I was doing mornings at WBKV/WBWI and couldn’t wait to rush downtown to see what reduced-price treasures I could find. Tables upon tables of promos, cutouts and used albums. I was in heaven. I also could count on Dennis special ordering quite a few 12” disco-discs when I was DJing at 2-G’s Disco in Barton. He would often say “Bonenfant, you sure order some odd stuff.” Dennis was a rocker/blues dude. Not much into dance music. You could count on the lowest prices in the area. I also liked to talk music with Dennis and, later, Jesse. Exclusive was a fond part of growing up in the West Bend area.”

Dennis Benn

David Vegafria of Waukesha said, “Dennis was a great guy- put up with me when I was kid hanging out in the store and taught me a lot about music and records.”
Jason Mai recalled, “Dennis gave me my first CD when I was 10 years old back in the early 90’s.”
Adam Patten remembered Benn “could find anything in that store in a matter of seconds.”
Kay Bahr Czisny worked at the Exclusive Company in Downtown Oshkosh. “Dennis would come up once a week to get records, cassettes and a few other things for the West Bend store. We became friends and I looked forward to his weekly visits. Even after I left The Exclusive Company we kept in touch and would get together for pizza and talk about the good old days and Mr. G.”

The Exclusive Co. was known for its bins of 33 rpm records categorized in alphabetical order by music genera. The smell of Pisculli when you walked through the heavy wooden door.
The black flecked terrazzo floor in the entryway and the ever-changing rock n’ roll posters plastered on the walls.
There was a glass cabinet at the front counter which held random collectibles like toy figures of the rock band KISS. There was also the support beam at the entrance of the store covered in round pins from heavy-metal bands to a trendy saying.
Linda Strupp Oksa remembered Dennis punching the item prices into old cash register during checkout. “When I was in high school, I went in looking for the Tone-Loc CD. I was told they didn’t have the CD because the artist was currently between record labels. Dennis had me fill out a post card and said they would send it to me when it became available. A couple years after I moved out of my parent’s house my mom called and said i had a post card at the house. It was the one I had filled out about 5 years earlier. I went to the store and picked up my long-awaited CD.”

In the 1960 telephone directory Exclusive Record Marts was listed alongside Plischounig’s Shop, 103 S. Main Street.  Under the Exclusive it read, “See-High Fidelity Sound Equipment.”

It was 1966 when The Exclusive Co. moved from 146 N. Main Street to 156 N. Main Street.

Plischounig’s Gift Shop

Another record store in the era prior to The Exclusive Co. was Plischounig’s Gift Shop.

The c. 1942 photo, courtesy the Washington County Historical Society, is of Elizabeth Plischounig, one of the owners of Plischounig’s Gift Shop. Elizabeth (Betty for short) and her husband Frank ran the store which featured glassware and greeting cards on the street-level, along with clothing and underwear. Initially there were records, like Elvis and Liberace, in the back of the store but later they were moved downstairs and filled the basement.
The Plischounig’s lived in a small apartment above the store at 103 S. Main Street.
Plischounig’s was a popular retail store run by Elizabeth and Frank Plischounig. The store started as a paint and wallpaper store and later became a general department store, selling gifts, clothing, records and the first TV sets sold in the area.  
Archives in the Research Center at the Washington County Historical Society show Plischounig’s expanded their business “adding an important component” of ladies Lingerie and the lower level “held the record, radio, and television departments.
‘Frank spent many hours spinning 45 and 33 records, for folks who needed to hear them before buying. When he became the first authorized television dealer in West Bend, he sold the first TV to Monsignor Stehling from Holy Angels parish. In the early days of tube television, much could go wrong, and Frank was frequently called upon to make TV house calls to repair them, frequently during mealtimes. Frank could be seen on many roofs in West Bend putting up TV antennas.’
The Plischounigs eventually sold their business to Jack and Doris Hansen. Later the Hansen’s bought the Piggly Wiggly stores. 

Exclusive Company lists itself as America’s Oldest Full-line Independent Record Store

Exclusive Co.

The founder of The Exclusive Co., James “Mr. G” Giombetti died Nov. 13, 2021.

This story was done in cooperation with You Know You are from West Bend if…

2 COMMENTS

  1. Why no posts here? I never had much money for records, CDs, or audio equipment, but I loved buying some when I could. And Exclusive Co. was always a cool place to shop. Great vibe in my teens and 20s (1980s and 1990s). And does anyone remember the local underground rock radio station in the 80s?? I can’t remember their call sign anymore, but I thought they operated out of West Bend.

    Sucks that Exclusive Co. and the cool radio stations are gone (93QFM, WLPX, and that underground one). I guess we can (at least in part) blame the music industry for shoving streaming and subscription business models down our throats. RIP Exclusive Co.

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