I read today that the Williamsburg record store Sound Fix is closing down in mid-April. Given that I’ve spent a fair amount of time there — both at their original Bedford Avenue location and at their current space on North 11th Street — this hits home in a lot of ways. It would be an understatement to say that I’ve bought quite a bit of music there over the years. And during the days when they had a performance space, I saw more than a few fantastic events: an Alex Ross reading; fantastic acoustic sets from Scritti Politti and Oxford Collapse and Arthur & Yu. I put together a couple of events there as well — a benefit for the East River Music Project and a music-themed reading.
And here’s where, maybe, I start pontificating. If you click on the Gothamist link above, you’ll note that the first two words in the slug for the story are “dying breed.” And…I don’t know about that. Rather, I think that “record stores are dying” meme has a way of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. But, at least in the northern Brooklyn area around Sound Fix, I don’t know if I’d say that record stores are dwindling. If you walk from Greenpoint down to, say, Metropolitan Avenue, your route will take you past a whole lot of record stores: Permanent Records and Record Grouch and Co-Op 87 and Sound Fix and Academy Annex and Earwax. It’ll also take you past the original location of Heaven Street, before they relocated to Bushwick. And I’ve seen nothing to indicate that Rough Trade isn’t still planning to open a store somewhere in Williamsburg — all of which leads me to think that, at least in certain neighborhoods, finding a record store isn’t hard.
That said, this quote from Sound Fix’s James Bradley, in the Gothamist piece, suggests the complexities of the issue — and, probably, will point some young economics writer to create a stunning analysis of North Brooklyn’s record stores in the future.
“We’ve been selling more and more vinyl, and I really thought for a period of time we could make it through just selling vinyl,” says Bradley. “But we kept running into the same problem: the record companies weren’t producing enough….”
As someone who’s been trying (to no avail) to find the new Nick Cave on LP at a record store in New York, I can see his point. Of the stores on my theoretical record-store pub crawl above, most have a sizable amount of used vinyl on sale. Finding a shop where I know that a particular LP is on sale isn’t always easy.
And, while I have good things to say about pretty much every indie record store in New York City, I’m going to miss Sound Fix tremendously.