I (@FollowMeAlexG) am sure glad that I have lived in DC for 1.5 years before heading to NYC, because it was quite the maze to navigate. My business mission while in NYC was to visit as many of the great record stores as possible, and introduce them to our awesome company in person.
I took a Bolt Bus from Union Station in DC to NYC, and was definitely overwhelmed; it didn’t help that my “Apple Maps” wasn’t functioning very well. By the time I figured out the subway, and took the train to Brooklyn, it was pretty late in the day. I was staying with Kid Named Breezy and his manager in a Brooklyn apartment, and I decided to stick around for his video shoot that evening so I could meet the music industry professionals who were attending.
The next day (Friday), I planned my route to stores, and started with record store legend, J&R Music. I eventually found my way to the top floor with the store management, and had a great conversation about upcoming events and what Altavoz has to offer. They were also kind enough to give me a full tour of the store, share some great stories, and introduce me to some new faces. Thank-you J&R!
From there, took the train north to Kim’s Music & Video. They have a very wide selection of vinyl, CDs, and movies to search through, and a colorful retail space. They have it ALL! If you are looking for box sets, they have a really good selection.
Not far away, I walked into Turntable Lab with high expectations for their retail space, and I was very impressed. That store is extremely modern, clean, and even has an in store DJ booth! They had a great selection of DJ equipment, and electronic music on vinyl.
Next stop, Academy Records. Bins upon bins of vinyl lined the walls, and a cool blue floor to step on. If you are looking for some new record sleeves, or to replace your old ones, there are plenty to go around here. I was most pleased when I saw the HOLLYWOOD – Hits! An All Time Low vinyl LP in the front display of the punk section. It’s like they knew I was coming!
After a very extended walk, I finally found Cake Shop. Since they are a venue as well, things weren’t started up quite yet (until a bit later in the evening). The bartender was very kind, and told me about the Cake Shop. By the way….they have a great happy hour.
RESTAURANT SUGGESTION: TAO in Midtown East, Manhattan. I’ll let you experience your own journey there, but be sure to bring a full pocketbook, and dress well.
Saturday was a very long day, and full of more good people, and cool record stores. Not too far from the apartment I was staying at, was Sound Fix Records. It was pretty early in the morning, so I practically had the store to myself. You can add Sound Fix to the clean cut, and well-organized category of record stores. Also, if you’re looking for a turntable, they can help you out!
Hopping on the subway, I arrived in the Greenwich Village / SoHo area of Manhattan. The first store that I walked into is Bleecker Street Records. With 2 levels of vinyl and CDs, you could spend days looking through what they have. You’ll notice my friend below, and I’m not going to lie, I thought the cat was fake….for a second. He is indeed very real, and he is apparently always sitting on top of that box. Not much action out of him, but he doesn’t look like a cat that you would want to make angry. People watching must be a real favorite of his.
My good friend Jamal at Village Music World was hard at work when I arrived. He has been staying open until very late to try and make up for when he took a hit from Hurricane Sandy, and I’m sure he isn’t the only one. Every customer that walked into Village Music World was treated very well, and usually found exactly what they were looking for, or something like it. I could tell that this is one of the local favorites.
Generation Records was a blast! There was so much music I wanted, I almost had to have them hold my wallet at the front desk so I didn’t spend all my money at one place. Like their 2nd location (Bleecker Street Records), they also had two floors filled with vinyl, CDs, posters, t-shirts, you name it.
Rebel Rebel is a quirky place, but it had a special element that made that store its own. I like a challenge, and the store basically challenges you to dig for something. Since I had to stay on schedule, I didn’t have time to do any searching (next time!).
At Bleecker Bob’s I immediately got the rock n’ roll vibe when I walked in. Classics all around, and employees to have a great conversation about music and history with. When I handed over the Cheap Freaks “Bury Them All” CD promo, they started playing it right away, which was AWESOME! We rocked out together, and by the time I had to leave, they were singing praises about the music. Glad you liked it!
I was only in Record Runner very briefly, but from the looking around that I did, I could tell that they had some real hard to find music memorabilia from some of the biggest stars that have lived. That’s not to say that they don’t carry new releases too (they do). They really make the effort to seek out and showcase some very rare and special releases.
I stepped into my final record store, and another world at Other Music. Near the NYU Stern School of Business, it was an experience unlike any other. With an open mind, it was amazing to hear and see the music that the store was promoting, and what the customers were interested in. The name says it all. Think about music, and all the normal music you are thinking about, that isn’t what they carry, hence “Other Music.”
RESTAURANT SUGGESTION: MONO + MONO in East Village, Manhattan. Vinyl records move across the ceiling to then go be played through the restaurant sound system. As upscale as this restaurant looks, the food is actually very affordable.
I was lucky enough to be placed on a guest list at Sullivan Hall to see “Friday in America.” The songs I heard were great, and they even drew fans all the way from their hometown, Rochester, NY. The best trait that I noticed about the band: Quality Musicianship. Keep on playing at venues, and don’t give up!
COFFEE: Cafe Capri in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The owners and operators have been at it for years, and they handmake everything. The muffins are SO GOOD.
New York City was an incredible experience, and I want to say thank you to all those who made it unforgettable. Who am I kidding though? I’ll be back as soon as I can!