SPIN CITY

To me, the worst part of online shopping replacing stores and streaming replacing vinyl is the disappearance of record stores. They’ve always been my favorite place to hang out.

When I was a kid, Igor Records on Cedar Lane in Teaneck, N.J., was my all-time favorite. I started shopping there when I was in the fifth grade when I’d saved enough weeks of my nickel allowance to buy a 45 record. Some of my favorite purchases were: “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee, “Tonight’s the Night” by Rod Stewart, and “Turn the Beat Around” by Vicki Sue Robinson.

When I was 13, some of my friends and I had bar and bat mitzvahs, and the best gift you could get us was a gift certificate to Record World in the Riverside Square Mall in Hackensack because, by that time, Igor’s sadly had gone out of business. I used my gift certificates to buy Cheap Trick’s “Live at the Budokan,” Super Tramp’s “Breakfast in America,” The Who’s “Who’s Next,” James Taylor’s Greatest Hits, and Carol King’s “Tapestry” because.

I didn’t buy records in college because I had to save my money for books, but I asked for specific albums for every occasion. I remember begging my mom for Go West, Talk Talk’s “Life’s What You Make It,” and other 80s dance music. And to her credit, she found them—probably at Riverside Square Mall.

Tower Records, East Village New York City

The salesclerks at Tower Records in the East Village were kind of like bartenders to me—suggesting fantastic new music to experience while sympathetically listening to my problems.

Tower Records became my Saturday afternoon sanctuary when I moved to the East Village in 1988. I was new to the city and didn’t know many people. So, being around my old favorite bands while meeting new loves, like The Black Crowes and Blues Travelers, was extremely comforting. As the illustrious Penny Lane says in my favorite movie, Almost Famous,

“If you ever get lonely, you can always go to a record store and visit your friends.” So, I did. Tower also literally rescued me from my crazy roommate because I could spend hours there listening to music in its sound booths without spending a dime—extremely important, given I only made $17,000 a year.

HMV Records on Upper East Side of Manhattan, NYC

When HMV on the Upper East Side opened in 1990, it was one of the first places to have live DJs, which was an amazing way to discover new music.

My husband and I moved to the Upper East Side in 1991, where I was elated to find HMV up the block from us, featuring live DJs who introduced me to Seal and Alice in Chains. I couldn’t believe how thrilling “Crazy” sounded when I first heard it in the store.

Rough Trade Records 2023, Rockefeller Center, NYC

Rough Trade Records in Rockefeller Center is small but mighty, somehow managing to stock more vinyl than even the most ardent audiophile could dream about.

Sadly, none of these or barely any other record stores have existed for decades. But now that vinyl is “back,” a few have been reopening. My new favorite is Rough Trade Records in Rockefeller Center. It’s a fantastic place filled with vinyl, rock memorabilia, books, and even an old-school photo booth.

Thank goodness I now live with my wonderful husband of 31 years instead of a wacky roommate, so I don’t have to hide out in a record store all weekend. But that doesn’t mean I won’t.

 

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