How to describe Schroeder Used Books and Music? As one Yelp review started, how can I even begin? Another uses a word that succinctly sums up the store: overwhelming. Schroeder Books (often also called Schroeder’s) was a cluttered and strange used book store in a suburb of Milwaukee, West Allis, located across the street from the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds on 76th St and Greenfield Ave.
Inside– an avalanche of stacks and boxes and piles of all sorts of books, instruction manuals, magazines, cassette tapes, records, 8-tracks, VHS, porn, and a decoration of plush animals and knick knacks in the windows. The store manager was an eccentric woman named Alma who wore a lopsided Halloween wig and sat perched on a pile of magazines near the doorway (the front counter had been buried in magazines and books. The store was shut down in 2015 by the West Allis Fire Dept.
Last month, the new owner of the building opened the doors a few times to try to sell some of the massive stock. His goal is to clear the storefront out (a massive undertaking) so he can clean up and lease it to a new business (or 2 or 3, the store could easily be divided). Everything was $1, with an even better deal on bigger piles. I was able to go to one of these sales to peruse Schroeder Books one last time.
In the latest Tea’s Weird Week podcast, me and Miss Information did a dramatic reading of some of the Yelp reviews Schroeder Books picked over the years, I talked about some of the books I found at that sale and did an on-the-spot interview with my friend Alex about a rare item found in the store– you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out what, though.
With Schroeder Books gone, where can one go in Milwaukee to dig into some used books? Here’s my list:
–Downtown Books (624 N. Broadway) one of my favorites– I used to hang out at their old location a lot because it had an amazing collection of comic books and sci-fi stuff. It is organized and clean and has a good selection.
–Renaissance Books (Mitchell International and Southridge Mall) Renaissance used to have a store in a big, creaky, dusty building downtown on Plankinton Ave. Like Schroeder Books, it was shut down because of code violations in 2011– it was overstuffed with books, the floors were sagging, the stairs felt unsteady. Check out this article/ photos from Bobby Tanzilo for OnMilwaukee.com: Urban spelunking: A peek inside the old Renaissance Books (onmilwaukee.com) The store has lived on, though, as they have a store in Mitchell International, the only used bookstore I’ve encountered in an airport and one in Southridge Mall (I haven’t visited that one).
–Voyageur Books (2212 S. Kinnickinnic Ave) A really nice new, used, and antiquarian store. Really good browsing and just up the street from the wonderful Lion’s Tooth bookstore and cafe.
–The Turning Page (2452 N. Murray Ave.) This used to be the Schroeder Books of comic book stores– a heap of comics spanning decades piled all over the place, run by an eccentric character. The new owners did a great job cleaning the store up and making it an organized and functional new and used store.
Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep03 Lost in the Schroeder Books Vortex: I talk more about Schroeder Books and me and Miss Information read some of the Yelp reviews of the store. In the news segment, Tea and Heidi talk about upcoming events they’ll be at, the Rod of Iron Ministries, a sovereign citizen on a Dukes of Hazzard-style police chase, Pokémon (Got to shoot your ass), Unusual Mortality Events of whales, and more. Plus Miss Information has new trivia, original music from Dan Hintz and Android138, and we close out with a brand new conspiracy-themed track from Xposed 4heads, “Kink in the System.”
Please Clap Dept.: I’m honored to say I won a National Indie Excellence Book Award in the “Current Events” category for my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness. You can order the book via Lion’s Tooth, Bookshop.org, Amazon, or wherever books are sold.