In rotation: 6/12/20

New York, NY | Closed: Record Mart, Manhattan’s Oldest Record Store Located in Times Square Subway Station: Beneath the bright colors of the Lichtenstein mural inside the Times Square subway station, you could always find a subway musician performing in the open space between the shuttle and the 1/2/3 lines, along with Record Mart, the record store that is also Manhattan’s oldest and a fixture on every New Yorker’s commute. The glass display cases showed the latest products, including equipment you could buy there like headphones, stereo equipment, cameras and more. And the goods usually spilled out in front of the entrance with stands holding postcards and posters for sale. You could still find LPs for sale inside. The store actively bought previously owned LPs, CDs and DVDs and they had regular, devoted fans who would pop in. Record Mart had a particularly acclaimed curation of Latin music.

Louisville, KY | Local record shops reopen… slowly, carefully: Brett Ralph was initially nervous about reopening his record store and book shop Surface Noise on June 4, worrying that we were still too deep in the pandemic. But as the store’s regulars migrate back, with safety and distancing measures in place, it’s been reassuring to Surface Noise’s goal — to be a neighborhood cultural nerve center. “It reaffirms that the store isn’t just a part of a creative community, but also a physical community,” Ralph said. “It’s part of Irish and Phoenix Hill, and we’ve been closed for three months, and it feels really good to be open again.” Many local record shops closed before they were required to back in March, and some are opening later than May 20, when retail was allowed to reopen in Kentucky. That’s because they face challenging circumstances. Most independent record stores are small spaces with thousands of items. Customers are generally in close proximity and touching the same things. In Louisville, record shops have been both scrappy and safe during the coronavirus, setting up online stores, curbside pickups and deliveries. As they slowly start to reopen their doors to the public, they are also taking careful precautions.

Golden Valley, MN | Down in the Valley feels the punch with loss of Record Store Day: A number of dates during the last few weeks have been notable to Scott Farrell, the general manager of local record store chain Down in the Valley. There was the first day that all three stores closed to the public, March 17, with limited curbside service at the Golden Valley location. “Every day my guys out in the stores were getting more and more nervous, and we were arming them with cleaners and things like that, but we had a discussion and decided it just wasn’t worth it,” Farrell said. Then, there was the announcement of the stay-at-home order March 27, which shut down in-person sales for good. Then there was April 18. For many, it was just another sluggish Saturday spent drumming up things to do around the house (or maybe spent fervently scouring supermarkets for toilet paper). For Down in the Valley, it was a melancholy reminder of what should have been the biggest day of the year for the business.

Hoboken, NJ | How Chip Heuisler of Tunes Hoboken Keeps the Music Going: It’s no secret that COVID-19 has impacted all industries —both big and small — to measurable extents. One industry that had to act quickly for stay-at-home orders was the music industry, with several of its sectors to take into consideration, particularly local record stores. Independent record stores have faced a lot of uncertainty during this time, as nonessential businesses were prompted to close their doors to promote social distancing. During this time, store owners were presented with unique challenges on how to maintain their businesses and retain customers. Record stores, many of which rely on sales from foot traffic, have had to strategize how to uphold sales without the assurance of in-store purchases. In Hoboken’s stretch of local shops, the Mile Square’s beloved record store, Tunes Hoboken, closed its doors mid-March to adhere to city guidelines for COVID-19. Hoboken Girl had the chance to speak with Chip Heuisler, owner of Tunes, about the coronavirus’ impact on the shop, what we can expect for Record Store Day 2020, and how he plans to keep the music going.

UK | Coronavirus: What will a post-lockdown high street look like? …Record store manager Will Hunter, who runs Vinyl Hunter on the same street, is holding off reopening until the first week of July. “Buying records is literally one of the most tactile things,” he said. “Our customers love the whole experience of coming in and learning. Online is never quite like that – I don’t even like buying records online. “I never wanted to run an online shop but it’s paid the bills for now. He said customers will be given gloves to use while browsing and a screen will be in place at the till. He is concerned things could change again. “I want to see what happens when everyone else opens. For us, it’s pretty straight forward – we can operate a one in, one out policy. “None of this is ideal, it’s not going to be normal, we’re a community space and we can’t be that now.”

UK | Record stores and other non-essential retail allowed to reopen on Monday: Though not all shops are opening their doors. Non-essential retail stores will be permitted to re-open in England from next Monday (June 15), it has been confirmed. The business secretary Alok Sharma made the announcement during the daily coronavirus briefing on BBC One this evening (June 9). Sharma said that the country “continue[s] to meet” the five tests put in place by the government for lifting current restrictions. He explained that retail staff should follow safety guidelines and social distancing rules, which at present state that people should remain 2 metres apart. Ahead of tonight’s briefing, Crash Records in Leeds today announced plans to re-open their shop next Monday, though customers will not be able to browse stock. “Entry to the shop will be for pre-ordered collections (either online or over the phone). Or to make enquiries about stock or tickets,” a statement read.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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