Holy crap, someone is opening a new record store? Who in their right mind would open a record store? And in New York of all places, with its exorbitant rents! Didn't these guys see what happened those who came before them? Well, this is different.
All photos by Michael Hession
Yesterday, Rough Trade NYC opened its doors on North 9th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, just blocks from rows of expensive condominiums that have sprung up on the East River, overlooking the Manhattan skyline. The store and concert venue is an offshoot of the legendary London record stores, which have been around since the 1970s. Rough Trade's record label was sold to BMG a decade ago amidst financial problems, and is now part of indie conglomerate Beggar's Group.
Music industry naysayers are right to question why you'd open a massive record store in one of New York's most expensive neighborhoods. So how does Rough Trade plan to compete with the technological forces that brought down both music stores and a bulk of the underlying industry?
First of all, Rough Trade is more than a Records Shoppe—it's a music outpost, housed in a 15,000-square foot warehouse that once stored film props. Inside, the store is compartmentalized, like a market, into smaller individual shops. The composite revenues from each of the businesses could be enough to sustain a thriving physical space for music to live. We visited on opening day, and here's what we found.