KGUN 9NewsAbsolutely Arizona


A century of success in Tucson makes Chicago Music Store Absolutely Arizona

Posted at 1:45 PM, Oct 15, 2018

Johnny Cash once visited Chicago Music Store and purchased 12 guitars. 

But he's just one of the music legends to shop at Tucson's legendary business, about to celebrate its centennial. 

Mark Levkowitz's grandparents opened the Chicago Store in 1919, as a general store in downtown Tucson. But why the name, Chicago Store? 

"Back in the old days, people moved out here from different cities around the country," Mark Levkowitz explained. "They would name their business after the city they were from. My family was from Chicago, hence Chicago Store," Levkowitz said.

His grandparents began selling everything from camping gear to firearms. It wasn't until years later they decided to sell musical instruments. 

"Eventually, the story goes, my uncle was playing in the Tucson High School Band and folks began to ask my grandmother for musical instruments," Levkowitz said. "So eventually, we kind of morphed into a full-service music store." 

Now known as Chicago Music Store, Mark took over the business from his mother and aunt. They ran the business for many years after Mark's father and uncle both passed away.

In the last few years, Mark has downsized his downtown location, while opening a larger store on the east side. They continue to thrive and continue to be recognized as a Tucson favorite. 

"We've been very fortunate. We have a lot of loyal customers."

Times have changed with the internet, and Mark is changing his business as well. 

"We were worried initially with the internet. But people want to play and feel the instruments before they buy them. We have competitive prices, so there is no benefit to buying anything on the internet." 

Plus, Mark is a native Tucsonan running a successful business that is Absolutely Arizona.