Ericksons Communications was first opened on Foster Ave in
Chicago back in 1969, by a local area ham/lawyer, Jim O'Connell.
Ericksons moved several times during the Seventies before settling
in at its final location on Milwaukee Ave. In 1978 Jim O'Connell
sold Ericksons to Amateur Electronic Supply, AES, for an
undisclosed amount of money. AES ran Ericksons as one of their
satellite stores until it ran into some IRS, Tax troubles in 1988.
It seemed that the state of Illinois department of revenue wanted
AES inc. to charge all of its mail order, Illinois customers sales
tax. This would have cut into a large amount of AES's Illinois
business and created a hardship paperwork burden for the Milwaukee
based ham-super-store. So in a corporate move, Terry Sterman,
W9DIA, ordered AES inc. and the Employees of the Chicagoland
Ericksons store, to pretend not to have anything to do with one
another. AES went as far as to remove all mention of the Erickson
store in all their catalogs and sales flyers from 1989 to the
present. The running joke in Illinois was to go into the Ericksons
store and see if you could get an employee to admit to the big
AES secret. Although if you where around on inventory stock up
day; the delivery truck always had Wisconsin licenses plates on it
and AES inc. stenciled, on to the cab's doors. Who where these
cheese heads fooling?? Now that the store is closed for good, you
can clearly see that AES inc. fully admits ownership again.
I wonder if this means AES is going to reimburse the State
of Illinois department of revenue back sales taxes from all their
Illinois mail-order sales dating back to 1989?
Ericksons had a reputation for going through store managers
and personel. I don't know if it was the "stuck up attitudes"
or the geekey-ness that attributed to this annual turn over; but
it seemed that every time I went in there, someone new was in
charge. This all came to a halt though in the summer of 1990.
That's when AES inc. hired , Vince Sawyer, KA9ZDM, as Ericksons'
store manager. Vince became Ericksons' 13th store manager and
although no one knew it at the time, he would be their longest and
their LAST! Vince Sawyer, KA9ZDM, was married to Lorretta Sawyer,
WQ9D, with no children. Vince, a hard working street messenger,
gave up his life long occupation, to begin his dream job of
managing Chicagolands only "FULL-TIME" amateur radio store,
Ericksons Communications. Vince, a ham radio character, could be
heard daily on A.C.L.R.'s family of repeaters, 147.225,443.700,
224.480 and on GMRS. As time went on though, Vince would be
heard less and less on the radio. I guess it's like anything else,
who likes to bring their work home with them. Vince was always
the one who you hoped was on the air when you were lost.
Vince could give you directions to any place in the Chicagoland
area from memory. I sure do miss having that resource available
on the radio. Vince's other hobbies included; private airplane
piloting, astronomy and photography.
During the weekend of April 27th & 28th, AES inc. held one of
their OPEN HOUSES at the Milwaukee, Wi. location. Terry Sterman,
W9DIA, conducted a survey of all the Illinois participants (FIBS).
The survey said, they preferred NOT-TO-SHOP at AES's, NOT IN ANYWAY
CONNECTED, Illinois branch of Ericksons Communications, for various
reasons. The main reason though was Convenience and Cost. You see
AES inc., is only ONE-DAY-AWAY by standard UPS, and NO SALES TAX
is charged on mail order sales to Illinoisans!! Also AES inc. has
100 times the inventory that Ericksons' had. Lets take a typical
sales item like a dual band mobile. If this mobile cost $650.00,
with sales tax at Ericksons your take home price would be $706.88.
In contrast, if you called and mail ordered it from AES inc., this
same mobile would cost you about $660.00 if even that, and it would
usually be at your front door within 24 hours or less. That's a
savings of $46.88; and who knows if Ericksons limited inventory
would have had this mobile in stock! Also consider the many less
expensive mail order amateur radio stores that are one-days
shipping away from Illinois, like Ham Radio Outlet, and your savings
is increase $50.00 to $75.00 or more!
Armed with the W9DIA, AES survey, and the fact that Ericksons
Communications sales have been on the decline; Terry Sterman, W9DIA,
made his last Illinois corporate decision, and shut Ericksons
Communications down. On Wednesday, May 1st, 1996, at 9:30 A.M. when
Vince Sawyer, KA9ZDM, was opening up the Ericksons store, much to
Vinces surprise his first customer was Terry Sterman, W9DIA, and an
empty AES inc. delivery truck. Terry promptly confiscated Vinces
keys, and escorted all the Illinois, Ericksons (FIBS) store personel
out. Then the boys from Wisconsin proceeded to load up Ericksons'
small ham radio inventory into AES's delivery truck. I heard that
Terry, W9DIA, was home, in the land of Cheese Heads, in time for lunch.
On a sadder note, 1996 has been a lousy year for our hero
Vince Sawyer, KA9ZDM. Vinces wife of 10+ years Loretta, WQ9D, filed
for and was divorced. Vince was than fired on May 1st. 1996 from
his dream job of 6 years, managing Chicago's only "FULL TIME" amateur
radio store, Ericksons Communications. Vince has not been heard
on any ham bands anywhere. Poor Vince, hopefully he will find
love again, get back on his feet and on-the-air. We need
your guidance Vince to help all the LOST souls find there ways
to various destinations throughout the Chicagoland area.
Good luck Vinney.
Vince Sawyer; KA9ZDM
Ericksons' LAST Store Manager
1990 - 1996
It has been mentioned by other "PART TIME" area ham radio
toy stores, that if locals don't start to patronage them, there soon
may be NO HAM RADIO stores in the Chicagoland area any more!
Update: February 9th, 1997 12:00 P.M., less than 1 year after
Ericksons closing, the only other "PART TIME" ham radio Toy Store
in Wheaton closes for an extended period of time. It is now back,
but for how long?? Better shop local or soon Chicagoland may be
Ham-radio-store-less again. Don't say you weren't warned!!!
Vince Sawyer; KA9ZDM
Ericksons' LAST Store Manager
1990 - 1996