Vintage vinyl and furniture store comes to downtown Flossmoor

Record and furniture store The Conservatory Vintage and Vinyl is having its grand opening Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in downtown Flossmoor.

The Conservatory, located at 1042 Sterling Avenue, is the area’s only store that sells vintage furniture and records.

Chogie Fields, left, and Anthony Fields with the vinyl record display at The Conservatory during the store's soft opening June 21. In addition to vintage vinyl, the store includes mid-century modern furnishings. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  Chogie and Anthony Fields
  welcomed customers into
  their record store, The
  Conservatory, during the
  store's soft opening June 21.
  In addition to vintage vinyl,
  the store offers mid-century
  modern furnishings.
 
(Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
 

Chogie Fields, co-founder and owner of the store with her husband, Anthony, says if she had to be a piece of furniture, she would be a light.

“Light guides people, it helps to illuminate things that you can’t see. Light helps you feel comfortable, it gives you peace, gives you joy,” Chogie said.
 

The Conservatory Vintage and Vinyl deals in two trades: vintage furniture, and vinyl records — but maintains the streamlined, curated feel of an art gallery. For this, the owners credit Collete, a shop in Paris, where the couple’s dream to open up their own place was born, 17 years ago.  
 
“It was a multimedia store, and they had records, apparel, a restaurant in the basement, books. What was cool about the store was that it had this gallery kind of feel, and all the stuff was one of a kind. You walked in and gained this experience,” Chogie recalls. “And it embraced you as an individual. It wasn’t for everyone.” 
 
Still, it was the local aesthetics of Flossmoor’s mid-century homes that ultimately inspired the store’s opening.
 
“I’ve been collecting vintage pieces for a little over eight years, but all of this primarily started when we moved to Flossmoor in 2011, and purchased a mid-century home. A lot of the design elements from 1951 were still intact,” she said.
 
“Think 'Mad Men' without crazy wallpaper.”
 
Anthony Fields, also known as “The Record Guy,” says he and his wife are simply trying to meet the needs of the community.
 
“Some people know that the homes in Flossmoor model the mid-century era, some don’t. But the people who do know, have had to go way north to shop for their house. And it’s the same with records,” he explains. “People shouldn’t have to leave their community to find this stuff.”
 
It’s this value for a sense of home and community that informs the way the couple stocks the shop, too. 
 
“We carefully curate everything that goes into the store, down to the vinyl. We only put things in here that we would want to see in our own home. Same with the vinyl,” Chogie said. “Tony wouldn’t bring in any records that he wouldn’t put in his own collection."
 
Anthony, a professional DJ and self-proclaimed record nerd, has an expansive personal collection of vinyl, comprised mostly of funk, funky gospel and African records. Still, Anthony finds that his broad taste in music enables him to meet the needs of other music lovers pretty naturally.
 
“I know this is a diverse area, and I have a diverse taste in music, so I just try to make sure that whoever walks in here, there is something for them,” he said.
 
“Whether you just want a regular David Bowie record, if you want a Beatles record, if you want a hip-hop record, a house record. Then if you’re a collector, I got collectibles, too.”  
 
Flossmoor resident and fellow collector Patrick Vonesh has taken Anthony to task on his offer to be the eyes and ears of local collectors.  He says the shop was just what the community needed. 
 
“A store like this is very significant culturally," Vonesh said. This neighborhood has been missing out on having this sort of music, and especially a vintage furniture store. We see a lot of different re-sale shops, but I don’t think any are up to this caliber. Everything is personally curated.”
 
Vonesh and his family moved to Flossmoor three months ago from the city, where he says culture doesn’t always equate to a sense of camaraderie on the music and art scene.
 
“I’ve bought records, but I was here trying to sell. That’s another thing I like about the place, we can converse about the music,” he said.
 
“We’re clearly both very into similar music, and that’s really important to me. You don’t get that in a lot of shops, it’s all about profit, and it gets very music elitist. Here, they are very welcoming. That’s big.”
 
In the diverse depths of the shop’s vinyl inventory, Vonesh found a dream of his own realized. It was a 1985 record by Nigerian artist William Onyeabor. 
 
“This is pretty holy grail stuff to find,” Vonesh explained. “He made this amazing psychedelic music, years before people in England were doing new wave. This is a crate digger’s dream.”
 

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A great community deserves a great newspaper. The HF Chronicle was created in June 2014 as an online publication. In December 2015 we began monthly print publication, too. Our mission is to chronicle the life of our community — news by, for, and about the people of Homewood and Flossmoor, Illinois.

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