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Woodstock record mogul winds down his decades-old business

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - After a lifetime in the recorded music business, John Gregos sells off this stash of both popular and rare music.Although his “For What It’s Worth Records & Tapes” store was open in the Woodstock neighborhood for only six years, many long-time Portlanders have purchased recorded entertainment from the store’s proprietor, John Gregos, for longer the four decades.

“It started in 1972, when a friend and I, working at a waterbed store in Milwaukie, asked the owner if we could bring in a rack of 8-Track tapes, cassettes, and albums to sell,” Gregos recalled, while tending shop at his temporary retail store in Happy Valley.

“The owner said he wanted to keep his focus on being a waterbed store. But, records and tapes started selling so well, we eventually ended up buying a waterbed place and turned it into a music retail store.”

Their business model grew until they had eleven stores, from Beaverton east to Gresham.

A series of unfavorable retail leases and demanding property owners caused the chain to shrink down to the one store he opened in Woodstock in 2000, now the location of Pizza Roma on S.E. Woodstock Boulevard.

“In 2005, I got my eviction notice and I was tired of doing retail,” Gregos told THE BEE. “I moved into a warehouse on S.E. Harney Road, and did a good international mail-order business. That is, until the U.S. Postal Service doubled all the rates outside the United States. So a CD that cost six dollars to ship now cost 13.75 – pretty much ending those sales.”

So, Gregos started his “liquidation sale” of about 30,000 albums – which was down to about 10,000 by the first of April.

“We haven’t sold hardly any CDs – and we’ve got a lot of rare CDs. But the people [coming here] aren’t buying CDs – our customers seem to have an affection for vinyl.”

Many customers came back, only to find that Gregos had uncovered a stash of “real rare vinyl – most of the rare stuff was in boxes below the racks.”

The biggest demand has been for mainstream artists and groups. “They've been buying Elton John, Billy Joel, The Who, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Frank Zappa. Almost all the punk rock sold out the very first day we opened. All of Bob Marley sold the next day. Jimi Hendrix sold out the third day.”

He couldn’t help but think back, and reminisce about the musicians who came to visit his stores, including Jimmy Buffett. “We booked him at the old Euphoria [night club] before anyone had heard of him.”

After he sells off his inventory, Gregos said he’ll not retire. “I’ll help friends with their businesses, doing sales.”

INFO BOX:

For What It's Worth Compact Discs Records & Tapes

11211 S.E. 82nd Avenue

Happy Valley, OR 97086

503/653-3342