Back in August of 2014 I went and did a story on the last stereo shop in Peoria, Electronics Diversified, which was located on Walnut Street in the Murray building. I met the two owners, Don Gort and Don Baker and it was a fun afternoon. Both of them were so full of life and energetic and fun to hang out with. The store was amazing and I put the post up on August 21, 2014. Then a few days later on August 24th I got this message from a family friend of Don Gort’s:
Don Gort passed away the day after you posted the article on EDI. He was a close family friend, thank you for posting the wonderful profile on the store.
I couldn’t believe it. It was really a strange feeling. I only spent about an hour with Don, but felt really bad he was gone. Then I realized I had probably taken the last picture of him. Another person who I had met through the blog, John Armstrong, had also recently died, so I put up this tribute to both of them.
I had planned on stopping in to Electronics Diversified to give my condolences to Don Baker about his friend and business partner dying, but one thing led to another and then the Murray Building got sold and the businesses including Electronics Diversified had to find other places to operate out of. I figured that was the end of Electronics Diversified and felt bad that the last stereo store in Peoria had vanished.
Or so I thought. I recently found out that Don Baker decided to continue on with the store that he and Don Gort had worked so hard to maintain and I got hold of Don to confirm that Electronics Diversified was still alive and well, and I’m happy to report that the last stereo shop in Peoria is still in business! It’s in a new location so let’s go take a look and say hi to Don and see how he and the business are doing almost three years later.
Electronics Diversified has relocated to the Ingersoll Building on 725 SW Washington Street. If you need a point of reference, it’s right next door to The Winkler Lofts, which I recently did a post on. I can’t believe I didn’t see this when I was down here! I need to start opening my eyes up a little in my travelings!
Once inside you’re greeted by paneled walls and the Electronics Diversified sign from the Murray Building! Nice! Let’s go in and see what’s going on inside of here!
I saw a messy desk and I knew from my first visit in the old space that Don Baker had to be close by and there he is seated in the chair at the desk he used to share with his friend and business partner, Don Gort. It was great to see him again and when he got up he showed me a familiar photo on the wall in the new stereo shop...
It’s the picture of he and Don from the original blog post. Wow, does that bring back memories! When I first met them I joked that having the same first name and a love of electronic equipment made them a human stereo system. Nice to see that the stereo system is still operational on a spiritual level with the business still keeping Don Gort’s memory and spirit alive.
This is Don with Tom Ludwig who’s helping to manage Electronics Diversified these days. I asked Tom if he was sure he wanted to pose for this picture because the last time it didn’t end up so well! We all laughed and Don said that Don Gort would’ve loved that remark. You’ve got to keep laughing and moving on. And speaking of moving on, let’s take a tour of Electronics Diversified: Mach II!
The Front Room
As you can see, the store is well-stocked and it’s just like walking into a stereo store back in the ‘70’s. Vinyl has made a big comeback lately, so if you want to play your records on the real deal, stop in here and Don and Tom will set you up with a genuine, sate-of-the-art stereo system. Take a look at some of this equipment in here...
There’s rows of speakers, tuners, antique radios and reel to reel recorders and I remember that beautiful wooden stereo console pictured in the bottom photo. Don told me they just sold that. If you want to get some of this equipment get in here before someone else snaps it up, you can’t find this kind of merchandise in chain stores or the internet!
The Media Room
I thought that all the inventory was in the front room, but Don and Tom told me there’s plenty more in the rooms in the back! Don told me that this room is a work in progress and it’s filled with CD’s, DVD’s and other media merchandise. Lots of treasures to be found in here for sure!
The Waiting Room
They not only sell vintage and one-of-a-kind stereo and electronics here, they also repair it. If you’ve got an old stereo system in your attic or garage collecting dust, bring it in here, get it working again and put it back to work or sell it on eBay! This is all equipment that’s been restored and repaired and waiting to be picked up.
The Hidden Turntable Room
I love these back rooms! It’s like a bordello for stereo aficionados! This room has speakers, reel to reel machines, tuners and there’s a turntable hidden away in a box that Don took out for me. This is an ultra-rare Thorens turntable and it can only be found right here in this back room!
The La-Z-Boy Room
More vintage stereo treasures await you in this room and there’s even a comfy La-Z-Boy chair to kick back and soak it all in!
The JBL Room
Size matters in this room, take a look at those speakers! I’ve never seen any that big in a room in my life! I asked Don if they were for sale and he laughed and said: “Everything has a price!” Ha, spoken like a true stereo salesman! The original Electronics Diversified sign is hanging back here and this place is like a mall of stereo and electronic equipment you won’t find anywhere in Peoria or beyond and that includes the internet!
The Future Inventory Room
I thought that was the end of the tour, but Don told me there was one more stop back here. He opened the door and there’s a huge space back here filled to the brim with equipment they're restoring and working on for future sales. This guarantees that inventory will be changing and updated all the time, so if you’ve stopped by here you need to make a return visit and see the new products as they get placed in the showrooms out front! This is only a fraction of the products and equipment that are being stored and worked on back here.
And we ended up back where we started. At the messy desk that Don used to share with the other Don. Don Gort is still here though...
He lives on in the spirit and the memory of this store. I’m happy that this spiritual stereo system is still plugged in and working. Stop by and see this unique one-of-a-kind stereo shop here in Peoria and let’s keep this spirit alive and well! We’ll see you all tomorrow!
725 SW Washington Street
Related Posts: Shop Hop @ Electronics Diversified—The Last Stereo Store In Peoria and Ships Passing.