PICKWICK/MUSICLAND

This is the story of Pickwick International.  And Sam Goody.  And Musicland.  Or at least it is a stab at sorting them all out.  The nexus to St. Louis Park is twofold: 

  • From 1964 to 1976, Musicland/Pickwick was owned by or otherwise associated with Amos and Dan Heilicher, who lived in St. Louis Park.

  • From 1977 to 1996 Pickwick International had a distribution center at 7500 Excelsior Blvd. in St. Louis Park.

This is just a bare-bones account:  a detailed history can be found Here.  Please contact us with any additions or corrections.
 


Late 1940s-Sam “Goody” Gutowitz (1904-1991) of New York City opened a small record store on New York’s 9th Avenue shortly after the advent of vinyl long-playing records. Although he did some retail business, most of his volume was in mail-order sales at discount prices.

 

1950-Pickwick Records (originally formed as Pickwick Sales Corporation, later Pickwick International) was founded by Cy Leslie and marketed primarily children’s records. 

 

1951-Sam Gutowitz established a chain of record stores called Sam Goody.

 

1956-Musicland began with a single outlet near downtown Minneapolis. One of the founders, Terry Evenson, had opened his first music store in his hometown of Cloquet, Minnesota, while still a teenager eight years earlier. Following a college education he helped fund by leading a dance band, Evenson served in the Korean War. He then resettled in Minneapolis and launched the Musicland business with partner Grover Sayre, a former member of his band.

 

1957-Pickwick entered the LP market with low-priced records, beginning with their Design label.

 

1964-Evenson and Sayre sold their interest in Musicland, now a chain of 15 stores, to Amos and Dan Heilicher, who were veterans of record distribution since the 1930s and had supplied Evenson with prerecorded music since his early days in Cloquet. Musicland expanded rapidly to 48 stores under their management and merged with J.L. Marsh.

 

1967-Pickwick International, now a music and book production, distribution, and merchandising corporation with 300 retail outlets, had a distribution center at 7600 Wayzata Blvd. in Golden Valley.

1968-Musicland merged with Pickwick International. The Heilicher brothers headed Musicland’s distribution and retailing divisions.

 

1976-Amos Heilicher had a falling-out with the Pickwick board and sold his stake in the company.

1977-American Can Company purchased Pickwick International. Pickwick bought the building at 7500 Excelsior Blvd.  At the time of the move, Pickwick was the largest record distributor in the US and UK and had 280 retail record shops. Unfortunately, a Pickwick record generally meant poor quality, both in the recording and the vinyl itself. As one critic noted, it was at one time “one of the largest purveyors of junk records in the world.”  Often a record claiming to be by a known artist turned out to be re-recorded by someone else.

1978-American Can Company purchased the Sam Goody chain.  Musicland stores transitioned to Sam Goody stores

1987-Musicland’s president, Jack Eugster, and 15 other senior managers purchased Musicland from American Can Company and the company became privately-held.  In November Musicland staged “Minnesota’s largest groundbreaking” to celebrate a new addition to its distribution center. 280 employees, each with a shovel, formed a giant M on the lawn, attempting to get into the Guinness Book of Records.

 

1995-Musicland’s distribution shifted to a new center in Franklin, Indiana.  The company sold the building on Excelsior Blvd. in 1996. 

2001-Musicland was sold to Best Buy

 

For more about the demise of Musicland after the sale to Best Buy, see Wikipedia.