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Throwback Alert! Rough Trade Opens Vinyl Records Mega-Store in NYC

Shot of the large 10,000 square foot interior of Rough Trade NYC in Williamsburg

Remember back in the 1980’s and, especially, the 1990’s, when those massive vinyl record stores opened up all over town–Tower Records, HMV, Virgin Megastore–and basically killed your favorite indie shop? Sure, I bought at the big-boxes once they arrived, but I also mourned the loss of places like Rocks In Your Head, Bleecker Bob's, and even Vinyl Mania, where you could hang out, discover all sorts of new bands, and just shoot the breeze with like-minded individuals.

And then came the internet–Napster, ITunes, Amazon–and the cavernous chain stores closed too! All of which is why the opening last week in Williamsburg of Rough Trade NYC, the largest vinyl and CD store in NYC, is such a big deal for area music lovers.

Three customers listening to records and CD's at Rough Trade's listening stations

The Largest Record Store in NYC

I went to Rough Trade NYC over the Thanksgiving break, and was struck by how contemporary it felt, design-wise–it's very Brooklyn of the 2010s–and, simultaneously, by all of its throwback retail "enhancements." For example, the 10,000 square-foot place has a dozen or so shipping containers, which is pretty much required by law these days in certain parts of town. It features an art gallery called Tumblr IRL with a rotating series of installations and there's also a big emphasis on listening stations, an awesome '90s addition, but seems almost quaint in the age of Spotify. They also have a book section, which definitely has some good stuff and plenty of great gift ideas for last minute Christmas shopping. I know I'll get coffee and cookies at the Five Leaves Cafe the next time I go. My question is: Aren't these the sorts of things that all the big boxes tried to incorporate into their concepts way back when, and still failed? 

Several Rough Trade customers playing on the ping ping tables within the store in Willamsburg

Rough Trade Has More Than Just Vinyl

Rough Trade NYC does have an impressive, well-curated selection of vinyl records and CDs, both old-school and new releases, and it's only going to get bigger as shipments come in. What sets Rough Trade apart from the other record stores is that in addition to the cafe, listening stations, and the art gallery, there's also a photo booth here, a couple of ping pong tables, a DJ booth, and what appears to be an internet room. Maybe most exciting, though, are the frequent in-store concerts, held in a separate-but-attached space in the back. Some shows will just be straight-up free, others will require that you buy the artist's record for admittance, and a few big names are playing for standard concert-ticket prices. Check out their calendar of upcoming events

Along with vinyl, cds, and games, Rough Trade NYC also has a large collection of books that this customer is looking through

More Information: Rough Trade NYC

Rough Trade NYC is located on North 9th Street between Kent and Wythe Avenues, and is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and on Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. 

Image of two people sitting and talking above the front desk of Rough Trade NYC

Do you rememer your first record? What was it? Do you still have it?

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