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I haven’t lived in the city of Chicago proper for a long time, having only moved in maybe two and a half months ago once this article gets published. In my brief time here, I’ve tried to experience the neighborhood in which I now call home, the “hip-and-exciting” Logan Square (to the city’s Northwest) to the fullest extent, visiting as many independent stores and events as frequently as my desk job will allow. A fast favorite has been the aptly-named Bucket ‘o Blood Books and Records, a haven for nerdy, nose-in-book metalheads and horror fanatics like yours truly. A short walk from my new apartment or just across the street from a heavily-trafficked public transit stop, “The Bucket” has found itself dead center in the most active portion of this very hip neighborhood A recent, brief Grant McKee, who currently runs the store with his wife Jennifer, offered me some insight into the inner workings of a niche, specialty store in an exciting section of a very active neighborhood.

McKee, who had purchased the store from former owner Marc Ruvalo about two years ago, found it important to maintain the shop’s initial integrity. A retail veteran himself, McKee felt the theme of the store resonated with him and paralleled his passion for horror and fantasy-based fiction. Bucket ‘o Blood has become a haven to locals who come in to get their vinyl fix (McKee attests to moving through a lot of doom and black metal, no doubt a result of the genres’ explosive surges in popularity) or to continue on to the next installment of whichever fiction series they might be reading, but their prime location leads to a regular influx of new customers.

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Grant McKee, Bucket ‘o Blood Books and Records Proprietor

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“We didn’t really change [the theme] that much because there were already things I really liked,” explains McKee. “I wanted to specialize, as far as the book side goes, in science fiction, fantasy, horror, ‘genre fiction’ as a whole.” And it shows, the small shop’s walls towered high with a veritable library of fiction of all sizes, ranging from the pristine, direct-from-the-printer editions to the dog-eared, well-loved paperbacks handed off by their previous owners to find a new home.

Of course, recent developments (McKee cited building issues and an inability to renew their lease) has forced Bucket ‘o Blood to find a new home base, but the McKees remain steadfast in seeing the blessing nestled within this setback. “We are only looking in Logan [Square],” McKee clarifies, not wanting to leave the neighborhood the store called home long before their reign. With a new, bigger space, Bucket ‘o Blood hopes to expand their stock and host larger-scale, more professional in-store shows, which were otherwise nearly impossible to handle in their current location.

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However, and this is where I might lose some of you (for shame), Grant and Jenny McKee need your help. Moving is expensive. I just moved by myself and it was a costly task, so imaging moving a store and expanding - doesn’t sound very fun, right? “The Bucket”’s owners have set up an IndieGoGo campaign with some pretty great perks in store. I, personally, have been eyeing the $100 option, which essentially turns into a gift certificate of equal value upon “The Bucket”’s planned relocation and re-opening.

Grant’s recommendations? Royal Thunder, Skinless, and a special fondness of St. Louis’s Fister (fun fact: Grant McKee’s brother Garth runs Crown and Throne Ltd, who released the vinyl edition of Fister’s most recent full-length, the 42-minute single-track epic IV)

See below for a link to the active Indiegogo campaign. Your deadline is July 6th. Help support small business!

—Jon Rosenthal

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