After nearly 20 years, change is coming to a certain record store at 1627 E. Irving Pl. on the East Side. But don’t worry—the change won’t be too drastic.
The venerable Bullseye Records will close its doors on March 31. According to a press release, longtime owner Luke Lavin will “pivot” from the record store game and “go on to a different path which will find him doing some soul-searching and considering new employment.”
Enter longtime (and sole) Bullseye employee Terry Hackbarth. With the blessing of Lavin, Hackbarth—along with friend and fellow musician Don Kurth—has bought out Bullseye’s current inventory. Hackbarth and Kurth will reopen the store as Irving Place Records. The pair is aiming for a grand opening on April 20, 2024—Record Store Day.
“I mostly look at it as carrying on a Milwaukee tradition,” Hackbarth tells Milwaukee Record. “Luke took over the space on Farwell where Earwaves was in the ’80s and early ’90s as Farwell Music, Farwell Music turned into Bullseye, which is at a space that has long been home for the counterculture of Milwaukee’s East Side of the late 1960s and early ’70s.”
A press release stresses that “longtime customers of Bullseye shouldn’t be concerned that ‘their’ record store is closing. Terry has always been the heart and soul of the store they loved at 1627 E. Irving Pl. The store should have the same vibe, while Terry and Don implement some new aspects that will keep things fresh and invigorate the customer base.”
Those new aspects include a fresh coat of paint and the construction of a small DJ station for guest DJ spots.
“It’s hard to compete with Lilliput Records in regards to bringing in every new release,” Hackbarth says, “but we will be bringing in stuff Bullseye regulars and our local community are hopefully looking for, while trying to win over new people who might not be aware that there’s been a little record shop hiding on a side street for 18 years.”
Speaking of Lilliput, the Bullseye/Irving Place transition is similar to the recent transformation of that store. In 2022, longtime Exclusive Company managers Tanner Musgrove and Brian Kirk purchased the inventory of the soon-to-close Exclusive at 1669 N. Farwell Ave. and reopened the store as Lilliput Records.
The Irving Place press release also stresses that former owner Lavin won’t be a stranger: “He will occasionally be peeking his head around, either as a spot fill-in behind the counter or (more likely) shopping alongside long-time regulars, in addition to hosting pop-up events around the city and surrounding areas.”
Bullseye opened in 2006. Hackbarth began working there in 2012. Milwaukee music fans will know Hackbarth from his band Trolley, plus numerous other project. Oh, and his recent solo stuff is really good, too!