Please allow me to introduce you to a lovely lady named Alma. She’s eccentric, unique, and just happens to run one of the greatest used book stores I’ve ever been to. If you’ve never been to Schroeder Used Books & Music in West Allis, you’re in for a rather extraordinary experience. This is as far removed from Barnes & Noble as you can get. This isn’t anything you’ve ever seen before. Floor to ceiling, literally, shelves packed entirely full of books. And in front of the shelves, stacks of even more books. In the middle of the store, bins filled to the brim with vinyl records. On the floor near the records, bags of groceries that she may or may not have purchased recently. This place is a trip.
I first found this place while walking to the State Fair Park. It’s right across from the park on the corner of Greenfield Avenue and 77th Street. Before I delve more into this shop, let me first establish a set of guidelines that I highly suggest sticking to.
- No children. This is not the place for them. You’ll thank me that you didn’t bring them.
- Call Alma before you go. Her sign states that she’s open from 9 AM until midnight. She’s not always there though. Her cell phone is 414-476-8618. Just tell her that you’d like to stop by to look for some books, and she’ll tell you if she’s there or not. If she’s not there, she’ll let you know how long before she will arrive.
- Set aside several hours to browse. You’ll need it.
- Bring cash.
- Don’t be put off if the door is locked. Knock on the doors, knock on windows, if she’s in there, she’ll gladly let you in after she turns all the lights on.
Ok, rules are set. Time to start browsing the shelves. Despite the initial appearance, it is quite organized. Plus, she knows where every category is. Once you get used to the system in there, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. It can be frustrating at times but with some patience, you’ll find exactly what you never thought you were looking for. One of my favorite things about this place is the sheer variety of books there are to look at. Stuff I never could have imagined. If you’re looking for a specific title, just ask her. She’ll swear she saw it right there just the other day, but she’ll tell you exactly where to look within the proper category on the shelves if it’s not right there anymore. And 99% of the books are clearly priced, very inexpensively priced I should add, written in pencil on the first page of the book. If you love books, I dare you to leave this place empty handed if you spend more than an hour in there. If books aren’t your thing, maybe you’ll find some good vinyl. This requires much more patience because the bins and shelves are packed so tight, you have to pull out a stack to flip through them easily. Or perhaps you’re interested in VHS tapes? 8-tracks? Adult films? Alma has it all. I’d hate to ruin the rest of the surprises this store has. But I will share this video I found on the web to give you a nice glimpse of the experience. (This is the cleanest and neatest I’ve ever seen the store, by the way).
Plan your visit:
Address: 7629 W. Greenfield Avenue, West Allis
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. – 12 a.m. (maybe)
Parking: Ample street parking available on Greenfield and on side streets.
Public Transportation: MCTS bus stop at S76 & Greenfield. Buses 44, 44U, 56, and 76.