The End of Wisconsin’s Musical Time Capsule

The Exclusive Company will close all stores this summer

Ruby Snow, Writer

After a loud 66-year-long existence, the Exclusive Company will forever leave an imprint on the music-lovers of Wisconsin. The wooden shelves worn from years of vinyl and searching hands; the blinking of the red “OPEN” sign, welcoming customers in with neon appeal; and the enthusiastic voice of Mr. G over the radio, urging customers to “say it with me”. 

On April 4, 2022, The Exclusive Company’s website announced they would be closing all of its stores permanently following the death of owner and founder James Giombetti in the fall of 2021. 

Wisconsin will not only lose America’s oldest full-line independent record store, but it will lose a safe place for the community it helped create, a place that brought people together in the search for items they love. 

Their selection, ranging from Christmas classics to heavy metal, created a common ground for all music enjoyers. Customers could bond over shared interests or discover something new among the aging shelves. Generations of music were kept alive and accessible among their inventory– whether used or new, Exclusive had it. 

Often with the accompaniment of gentle guitar chords and a warm drum beat, the atmosphere of The Exclusive Company never failed to put shoppers at ease. 

While no closing date has been announced, the liquidation of the store’s stock has already begun. The Appleton, Oshkosh, Milwaukee, and Greenfield locations will also be participating in the annual Record Store Day on April 23. 

“Even with all of the upcoming changes, we feel it is very important to continue our traditional participation and support of Record Store Day on Saturday, April 23rd,” The Exclusive Company’s website reads. 

The Exclusive Company left an immeasurable impact on both its customers and employees. Though a beloved era is coming to an end, The Exclusive Company’s legacy will be carried on. 

The West Bend location, for instance, has already reopened its doors as The Beat Goes on Records & More, purchased by local residents Joe and Mary Zeremba. 

“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,” a Facebook post states. 

In addition, the Milwaukee location will reopen as Lilliput Records in July 2022. Two of The Exclusive Company’s former employees, Brian Kirk and Tanner Musgrove, plan to purchase the existing facilities. To do so, they will crowdfund in order to achieve their goal of $70,000. 

“Without a second thought, it was clear that our next step was to open our own shop: Lilliput Records,” their gofundme page reads. 

Though it’s presence will be greatly missed, the end of The Exclusive Company is already giving way to new, independent record companies. 

Despite the blooming of these new record stores, they can never fill the void left by The Exclusive Company’s closure. It was more than just an establishment– it created authentic experiences and memories that long-time customers were always able to return to. Until now. 

The dedication that James Giombetti put towards his work was felt by anyone who ever stepped inside one of Exclusive’s locations. Their locally-picked selections, eclectic decorations, and sociable employees made for unique and memorable experiences– memories that will never be forgotten. 

So, I implore you to get ready and “Say it with me” one last time. Here’s to The Exclusive Company, and all that it’s done for not just Oshkosh, but for all of Wisconsin.