When the Rhino Records store in Westwood closed in early 2006, I wrote a column to explain the history of the Rhino store in Claremont. Briefly, Mark Leviton, a friend of Rhino founder Richard Foos, opened the Claremont store in October 1974 under Foos’ ownership.
Foos sold the Claremont store in 1976 and it continues as an independent operation today, with no connection to the record label of the same name, which was also founded by Foos.
At the time my piece appeared, Rhino’s current proprietors weren’t cognizant of the store’s history. Based on the “about us” section of their website, they quickly forgot. Their motto “Independent since 1976” continues to appear on their website and on T-shirts. Oops. Since businesses tend to overestimate how long they’ve been around, not underestimate it, maybe Rhino is just being modest.
I recently spent an hour going through 1974 issues of the Claremont Courier on microfilm, hoping to find a feature about the store’s launch.
Well, no such story seems to exist — I went through the issues page by page from August through mid-November — but I did find something: one lone ad for the store on Oct. 19, 1974. Hey, that’s 35 years ago today!
So, while no one seems to know the date the store opened, this is as good a time as any to wish Rhino Records a happy 35th anniversary. Even if they don’t know it.
Above is that ad at roughly original size, to the right is (why not?) the page it appeared on and at bottom is a current photo of the store’s original location, what was then 269 W. 2nd St., a house between City Hall and the Pizza N Such building; Leviton told me the store occupied half of the space (he didn’t remember which half).
Later it moved to Yale Avenue, first to what is now Viva Madrid and, in 1991, to the former Bentley’s Market location. It remains there today, thriving as the only full-service indie music store in the Inland Valley. Even if it no longer sells cassettes and 8-tracks.