Independent record stores might have all but vanished from the high street but, according to a recent article in the New York Times, store owners are finding new ways to keep their businesses running.

"Most of the time Downtown 161, a record distributor in Lower Manhattan, is off limits to the public," writes the Times‘ Ben Sisario. But once a week it becomes an unusual kind of record store for friends of Vinylmania, a Greenwich Village shop that closed in 2007. Customers run their hands over items in fancy packaging, chat with the seller and brag about their collections — all the typical stuff that grows more endangered every time another store closes.

“’In the old days, when I was really selling a lot of records, this was verboten,’ said Charlie Grappone [pictured], a dance-music specialist who opened Vinylmania in 1978. ‘You would never let people off the street into a wholesale distributor. Because why would they buy in a store if they could come in here? But it’s changed now. There aren’t any stores left."

The article looks at other examples of unconventional record-retailing in New York, including Midnight Records, a store operated by J.D. Martignon out of his own apartment. Martignon says he gets a customer or so each day, usual just browsers but often big-hitters. “I get these Japanese guys that spend a few thousand bucks,” he tells the Times. “All out-of-print rockabilly stuff.”

Ira Heaps ran the East Village reggae shop Jammyland for sixteen years before it closed in 2008, and now sells his leftovers in his tiny nearby apartment to DJ and collector friends. He’s a little less positive about his situation. "Jammyland ruined me. I gave it 16 years of my life. It ruined two marriages. I have nothing to show for it."

Read the full article here. Thanks to Shook for the tip.



Share Tweet