LOVES PARK, Ill. (WTVO) — The owner of CD Source says the cause of the fire that destroyed his landmark building last month was electrical.
“It was (a) faulty battery charger, or possibly stain sponges that spontaneously combusted,” Brian Bowman said of the Sept. 20 fire at his building, the old Park Theatre at 5723 N. Second St. “It started in the back where all the electrical was and where the stain was.”
After the fire, Bowman said he was leaning toward calling it a career in the vintage record and CD business. He was certain that wading through the aftermath was going to take up the majority of his time and that he was ready for something else.
Then came a realization that to the people of the Rockford area and beyond, CD Source was more than just a local business. It was a destination for a close-knit community of collectors and those who were just being introduced to the vast inventory of vintage vinyl housed in the old makeshift theater.
“I loved the store and was very proud of it,” Bowman said. “But I underestimated how many people loved it and how many people it affected. “It was an important part of many people’s lives. I guess I never realized it, or at least to that extent.”
Before the flames were even put out, customers offered their help. A GoFundme campaign has currently raised more than $8,000. Some Stateline residents have even offered up their own record collections to help Bowman build new stock.
“This has been Brian’s life work for the past 27 years, and anyone who knows Brian knows that he is one of the most selfless, hardworking and genuine people you will ever meet,” Ese Esan, who organized the GoFundme, told Eyewitness News in an email.
Bowman said he’s been humbled and overwhelmed by the support. As someone who has a hard time accepting help, he’s getting used to allowing the community to come alongside him.
“It helps motivate me a little to give it another try,” he said. “I’m just super grateful for all the customers over the years and I hope for all of us, that we can figure out a way to make it happen again.”
Whether he rebuilds at the same site or finds space elsewhere, Bowman hasn’t decided what the next chapter will look like.
Bowman started CD Source in 1995. He had locations in Forest Plaza and downtown Rockford before purchasing the old Park Theatre in 2018.
Part of Camp Grant, the building was an Army surplus Quonset hut brought to Loves Park in 1947, opening as a theater the next year.
After the theater closed in the 1970s, the building was home to number of businesses, including a resale shop and a craft store.