Ready to rock at Record Stop
There might not be anyone more excited for Saturday in all of Patchogue than Jeff Berg. Last year, he opened the brick-and-mortar Record Stop on Railroad Avenue. The venture is a testament to studies that show vinyl records are outselling digital downloads for the first time since the early '90s, when Nirvana was still making music and no one had ever heard of Justin Bieber before. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl record sales in the United States reached $416 million in 2015. “It’s still a small industry, but it’s growing — or, regrowing — at a crazy rate,” Berg said.
This year, not only is Record Stop participating in their first-ever Record Store Day, but they’re also shutting down Railroad Avenue to throw a block party with hundreds of RSD releases, contests, giveaways and live performances by The Good Rats, Aloud, Benjamin Cartel and Supercel. An after-party with Badfish will be held across the street at Stereo Garden, and WEHM 92.9 FM radio will be broadcasting live from the party.
Record Store Day started 11 years ago as a grassroots initiative to support local music stores and is now a day dedicated to celebrating the format internationally. “We wanted to give back to our loyal supporters and our awesome community,” Berg said. “We’re just grateful that we can play a part in uniting people through the love of music.”
Though opening a record store may seem puzzling to some, Berg’s shop has been well received in Patchogue. What does it take? Berg says “excellent customer service, a great team and a massive, neatly organized inventory.”
The Record Store Day website lists hundreds of releases that will only be available at record stores on Saturday, April 21. The exclusive pressings are sometimes limited to just 500 or 2,500 copies. This year’s list includes special releases and collectibles that span every genre, from Pink Floyd to The Notorious B.I.G. to Taylor Swift. There’s no guarantee that Record Stop will have the title you’re looking for on hand, though. “There are a ton of incredible RSD titles being released this year,” Berg said, unable to pinpoint a specific he was looking forward to.
But Dave Kennedy, executive director of the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, said he’s got about 20 titles on his wish list. “I’m a big fan of Living Colour,” he said. “They’re releasing an album version of a well-known bootleg from back in the day.”
To Kennedy, Record Stop opening fits in perfectly to the identity Patchogue has taken on. “We’re all about a younger audience and record stores have always been a meeting place for youth in the community,” he said. “We’re on the cutting edge, as vinyl has had a resurgence and the record store is once again finding a place in a business district,” he added.
Anna Miller has worked the stacks at Record Stop since it opened a year ago. “Our customers are really cool,” she said. “We have regulars that we know by name who come in on a weekly basis.” Miller, 24, says the job has been unexpectedly rewarding. “It’s a cool experience to be around music all day. People get really stoked about it. You’d think in this day and age records wouldn’t be the thing people get excited about, but it’s coming back,” she said.
The year-old store is home to more than 30,000 records and CDs that line the walls and tempt audiophiles to spend hours browsing. Diehard music fans and locals may remember the flagship Record Stop, located on Portion Road in Ronkonkoma, owned by Berg’s father, Bruce, for nearly 40 years.
When Bruce retired in 2015, Jeff knew the timing was right to expand. “Around the country, ‘the record store’ is kind of coming back,” he said. Berg found the 5,000-square-foot space on Railroad Avenue that used to be home to an auto diagnostic shop and, before that, a fuel company. “I gutted everything completely,” he said.
The shop carries both new and used vinyl, CDs and other merchandise, with a focus on relevancy. “We have a long history and knowledge of all different types of music, with a good jump on what’s popular,” Berg said. “But we also still focus on the classics — rock, punk, heavy metal — Long Island kind of classics.”
Listening to vinyl, Berg said, is catching on. “Besides the people who never stopped, it started with the hipsters,” Berg quipped. “Some people have a cheap little player and five vinyls and that’s good enough for them, and some people are obsessed and have 5,000 vinyls,” he said, describing his range of customers.
Berg finds himself somewhere in-between. “I use CDs in the car, I have vinyl at home to enjoy over a glass of wine and I also stream. I think [all formats] are important,” he said. He added that he thinks vinyl has resurged due to more people looking for experiences in lieu of just a product. “A lot of our customers just like to talk to each other, they hang out, like in a cafe or coffee shop,” Berg said. “It’s fun to watch them come in, talk to each other about music, and recommend albums to each other.”
The festivities on Saturday will kick off with the store’s opening at 8 a.m.
For more information, visit www.recordstopny.com.
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