Local Current Blog

Treehouse Records is closed: The end of an era at Lyndale and 26th

Treehouse Records on its last day of operations (Simone Cazares | MPR)

On a frigid New Year’s Eve, music fans braved the cold to visit Treehouse Records one last time. The closing of the Minneapolis shop has left the corner of 26th and Lyndale without a record store for the first time in more than four decades. What started out as North Country Music in 1972 became Oar Folkjokeopus in 1973 and then Treehouse Records in 2001, paving the way for the punk and indie rock scene to grow in the Twin Cities.

Although the closing of Treehouse Records marked the end of an era, owner Mark Trehus wasn’t sad. “I feel a little whimsical about not having my sanctuary to come back to anymore and convene with like-minded people,” Trehus said. “I’m going to miss the customers a lot and the steady flow of records going in and out. It’s how I’ve made my living for the past 31 years, but it’s time to move on to a new chapter in life.”

Shortly after the store opened at noon on New Year’s Eve, it was already full of customers stopping by one last time to say goodbye. Local musician Charlie Lincoln was one of them. He came in early to buy a poster of NRBQ, a band his uncle played in as a bassist. Although he said he couldn’t call himself a regular visitor of Treehouse, he recalled some fond memories at the shop and it was important for him to support one of the city’s most historic record stores one last time.

“The best time I ever came here was when I saw Laetitia Sadier from Sterolab do an in-store here, which was super, super cool because I’d never seen her before,” Lincoln said. “But a lot of reason I know this record store was because it used to be Oar Folkjokeopus and my uncle was very much on the scene when people like the Replacements and Hüsker Dü were around and more of the focus and center of the scene. So it sort of has a historical legacy in that sense… It’s a great record store. I’m sad to see it go, but I’m glad I was able to make it in one last time.”

Although the majority of the people at Treehouse Records that day were locals, there were some out-of-town visitors, like Anjali Moore of Phoenix, Ariz., who also stopped by. Originally from Minneapolis, Moore has come back to Treehouse every time she comes back to Minnesota to visit her family. She was sad to see it close.

“This is one of my top favorite places in the Twin Cities,” Moore said. “We would just come in here when we’re visiting and hang out in Uptown because there’s a lot of stuff to do, and I’ve gotten some good records. The first time I came here, I got the Blondie album Eat to the Beat. It was one of the first records I really listened to. I listen to that album a lot, and I got it here for like three dollars. All over the place it’s way more expensive so that was kind of cool. I’ve always liked being in here, and I’m really sad it’s closing.”

Although it’s unclear what type of business will inhabit the space in the future, owner Mark Trehus isn’t too concerned. He’s just ready to move on to other things in his life and is looking forward to what’s to come.

“The relevancy of the store has decreased over time, and although financially I could continue to do this for a really long time and still keep my head above water, it just doesn’t feel as worthwhile as it used to,” Trehus said. “Fortunately I’ve been blessed. Everything is very positive about this, and I’m excited for what’s to come.”

Simone Cazares is a student at Saint Paul College. Originally from Miami, Fla., she survives Minnesota’s cruel winters by immersing herself in the Twin Cities music scene.

  • Grumpy Dave

    I’m sorry to see it go, spent a lot of time in that record store years ago.

    • Bucky

      And, I’m sure, the CC Club across the street.

      • Grumpy Dave


  • IWitness

    The store in its early days as Oar Folkjokeopus exemplifies the idea of “creating something from nothing.” I’ll go out on a limb, what is now the Twin Cities scene could never have happened without the Oar. Sure, there’d be music made here. Of course. But it would not receive a one scintilla portion of the attention it now enjoys without these pioneers.

    Get real and get your letters out to the folks who represent your voice in local government. Some sort of commemorative plaque needs to be put up on that building identifying its place in history with some words added like, “This is where it all began.” Why? Because it’s the completely unalloyed truth.

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  • Jeff

    Absolutely, by far and away, the coolest thing I ever bought there was a copy of “Secret Box: Chills Rarities 1980-2000”. I happened to be working on location for a photo shoot not far away, and since I wasn’t usually on that side of town, it took the opportunity to stop by. There, underneath the heavily scratched glass of the case near the door was the CD by the New Zealand band The Chills with it’s odd green and purple cover. I loved The Chills and asked, “What’s this?” Mark explained it was a 3 CD set of rarities, b-sides, outtakes, demos and live versions of songs never released in any format, signed and hand numbered by Martin Phillipps, #366 out of only 500 made! Additionally, Mark told me he only got in three of them, he kept one and another store employee bought one, making mine the only one available to the public. That is why one went to Treehouse Records – for those lifetime moments of record collecting nirvana.

  • Jordan Volkenant

    Curious as to if you made a massive sale to liquidate remaining inventory after closing sale. Please inform me as to if this was done and to who. Thank you.