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Record Store Day profile: Rush-Mor Records

Brett Krzykowski

Since 1971, a record store has stood on Kinnickinnic Avenue in Bay View between Potter and Lenox. Owners Dan DuChaine and Bill Rouleau have been at the helm for the last 29 years. That makes Rush-Mor Records the granddaddy of Milwaukee record stores in a couple different ways:

  1. It’s the oldest.
  2. Like the idealized version of a grandpa, it’s warm, welcoming and full of wisdom.

My pre-Record Store Day tour that started with Lilliput Records took me south on KK on a decidedly less-hospitable afternoon, weather-wise. But the atmosphere at Rush-Mor was quite the opposite, even before I got inside.

Brett Krzykowski

Cracking the door, I was met by Rouleau coming the other way with an armload of boxes led by the store’s only four-legged employee, Wolfgang. He (Rouleau, not Wolfgang) immediately put me at ease about inadvertently letting the fuzzy staff member sneak out onto the sidewalk, a simple gesture that encapsulates what Rush-Mor is all about.

DuChaine and Rouleau want you to feel comfortable the moment you walk in (or slightly before), even if it’s your first time. Especially if it’s your first time. As we shot the breeze about a variety of topics — customer service, DuChaine studying to be a farmer, overzealous Taylor Swift fans — I got the sense they’d be happy to keep right on talking unless someone needed help finding/buying a record or the A-through-C rack spontaneously erupted into flame.

As for the store itself, the Bay View-ness practically drips from the walls — tin ceiling, cheerful string lights, racks of band shirts shoehorned into one corner, personal decorative touches everywhere you look. It feels like two buddies sitting in a comfy living room one day decided, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we turned this into a record store?” And then did.

Make no mistake, though, these guys are serious about what they do. When I flipped on the recorder mid-conversation to ask about their Record Store Day plans, Rouleau launched into his spiel without missing a beat, even with the strains of Megadeth piping through the store's speakers:

Rush-Mor Records: Record Store Day 2023

Then, in a heartening and neighborly display of selflessness, had me turn the recorder back on to put in a word for Acme Records just up the road:

Rush-Mor Records: Acme

I’ve only hit two spots so far on this quick trek around the city, but both seem to be as connected to the general community as they are to the music community. All the more reason to find time for them this Saturday. But, just in case you're not convinced, we did an episode of our old web series Collectors that featured DuChaine and Rouleau back in 2015. Give it a look while you build your Record Store Day shopping list.