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As time progresses, the older you get, the harder it is to find the match of your dreams, a match decent enough to date, or a person ing you at metal shows. With online dating apps like OKCupid, Plenty of Fish, Tinder, Bumble and what have you, for a metalhead, you tend to run into people who are not your type. Typically, many will settle and compromise their own personal interests, but there are several out there still looking for their fellow metalhead.

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February 11, Music Music Column. John Sturdy. When I ask Mark Weglarz, proprietor of Metal Havenwhen he decided to shut down his store—not only one of Chicago's most singular music retailers but probably one of the best heavy-metal record shops in the world—he pauses for a moment. Then he says: 7 PM on October Actually it was probably November when he made the call, he says. So I went from the worst month of the year to even worser to even worser than that.


Weglarz seems remarkably sanguine about the situation. Metal Haven is so clearly a labor of love for him that I'd expect him to be crushed—instead he's cracking jokes about the imminent death of a business he founded in and has subsidized since with a downtown job running what he calls a "little Kinko's within an office.

Metal Haven's expertly curated inventory is a treasure trove for serious metalhe—and has almost zero to offer anyone else. The shop's stock of current releases contains basically nothing by mainstream crossover artists, unless you count the album Babylon by W. Weglarz carries records by bands that have crossover audiences in the indie scene—Mastodon, Isis, High on Fire—but the great majority of the music on offer is by acts much weirder, uglier, or more obscure.

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Metal Haven favorites like Portal, Lord Foul, and Toxic Holocaust reside on the outermost branches of metal's taxonomical tree—a tree on which even the biggest subgenres have intimidating names "grind," "thrash" and some of the less familiar ones don't sound like types of music at all "blackened crust". Despite the limited commercial viability of extreme metal—in black metal especially, a band can enhance its reputation by refusing to seek publicity or even maintain a Web site—Metal Haven has survived longer than retailers as big as Tower Records, despite the recession of the past year and a half and market conditions that have already killed off brick-and-mortar stores in droves.

Weglarz says that after Marchwhen rising rents forced it from its original pedestrian-dense location near Belmont and Broadway to a relatively out-of-the-way strip mall at Montrose and Damen, the store didn't lose much business.

Metal Haven is a destination—I have friends from Michigan metalhead dating Haven make a four-hour drive to shop there. It owes its longevity in part to Weglarz's low overhead costs: He has just one employee, who opens metalhead dating Haven lunchtime, and during the week he arrives at 6 PM or so, after work downtown, to finish out the day.

The rest of the reason the store has held on for this long is certainly its maniacal focus—not only does it cater to a very specific demographic, it caters to the right demographic. Metal is the domain of the lavish limited-edition vinyl package, the picture disc, the hand-ed cassette, the alarmingly expensive hoodie. I won't pretend to have any sales data from the dozens if not hundreds of independent labels whose products Metal Haven offers, but in the current file-sharing free-for-all it's got to help business to be dealing with customers who still spend money on product—and the sheer of band T-shirts owned by the typical metalhead is testimony that he does.

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Weglarz agrees that metalhe buy more music and merch than the average fan. Or rather, he says, "They usually do until they lose their jobs. Unfortunately this recession affected everybody. I mean, this recession affected more blue-collar people than any other I've seen.

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There's no set date for Metal Haven to shut down. It's probably going to take a few months to sell off the shop's inventory, and Weglarz will hang onto his employee and maintain his usual hours till the bitter end.

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As part of the store's Armageddon Sale, which began in late January, he's offering 15 percent off almost everything but new releases which will keep coming in till the doors closeand he intends to raise the discount rate by 5 percent every so often to keep stock moving off the shelves. He doesn't have any plans to reopen in the future—he's not looking for another, even cheaper location—and when the store shuts down, its mail-order business will too. Even if you hate metal you should be sorry that Metal Haven is closing. Few record stores anywhere, to say nothing of Chicago, can claim to be just as fanatically obsessive as their most rabid customers.

They've always been rare. Now they're in real danger of extinction.

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More Music Column ». Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Are you in? Not ready to commit? Send us what you can! Sparks continue their renaissance with the soundtrack for Annette.

The ravenswood record store--a destination for serious metal fans in and out of town--is winding down.

The Chicago Reader. Buttons Up! Start Mourning Metal Haven The Ravenswood record store--a destination for serious metal fans in and out of town--is winding down.

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