Men and women of a certain age may fondly remember when Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights had their fair share of record stores. They might recall the joy of browsing through bins of vinyl for their favorite artists.
There was Linn’s Record store on Fifth Avenue that sold records and sheet music, as well as the Little Store on 86th Street and the bigger Record Factory.
After the vinyl craze faded and CDs took hold, Rocky Schiano opened Street Sounds (originally Side Street Sounds) in 1988, which ultimately had multiple locations in the neighborhood.
But with the CD market fading, Street Sounds reinvented itself as the leading Gretsch guitar distributor in the country. So for years, there has not been a dedicated record store in the neighborhood.
But now, E and J Record Shop has opened its doors at 926 70th Street near Fort Hamilton Parkway. It’s a genuine throwback record store that offers audiophiles an opportunity to flip through crates of vinyl in search of both good music and great memories. It is open Thursday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Owners Erik Feuer and Jessie Harrison also own E and J Boutique, a unique antiques and collectibles store on the corner of the same block.
When deciding to branch out, they considered opening either a record store or a video game store. “Just by the popular demand of people asking more and more for records, it just seemed to be the obvious thing for us to do,” Feuer said.
The age group of people stopping by might surprise you. “Our customers range in age from 10-year-olds to men and women in their 60s and 70s looking for things they listened to when they were a kids, like Frank Sinatra, Frankie Valli, Dean Martin and so on,” Feuer explained.
Feuer attributes people’s renewed interest in records to nostalgia. “It started for us when we were doing the antiques and the vintage video games, but records have something special to them,” he noted. “When you look at an album cover, you get a two-for-one deal. You get a really nice album cover and then on the inside you get a piece of history.”
He went on to say that “a CD is nice and digitally remastered, but sometimes you don’t want that perfection;” sometimes, “imperfection is more perfect than perfection. Some of our customers even like the crackly sound of a vinyl album.”
Store manager Chris DiGennaro is a big record buff who used to work at Tower Records and Bleecker Bob’s in the city. “He’s an encyclopedia of record knowledge who really knows his stuff,” Feuer said. “I don’t think I could have hired anyone more perfect for the job.”
Feuer and Harrison greet everyone who walks in the store with a hello, and ask if they need any help. They want the customers to have a well-rounded experience and have fun as well.
“I wanted this store to have the feel of a ‘70s or ‘80s record store where customers keep coming back to see what’s new,” Feuer added.
The cost of full-length albums is quite attractive, with most priced between $3 and $8, and with many selling for $2.99. The store also sells select music books, magazines, posters and other memorabilia. And customers can buy CDs for $1.00.
All albums that E & J sells are thoroughly checked for scratches or other imperfections and cleaned before they are displayed. Customers also have the opportunity to listen to an album before purchasing it.
“We specialize in inexpensive, great quality items,” Feuer added. “If it’s not perfect, it’s not here.”