While the rest of the industry worries about MP3s kicking the chair from under the high street chain and streaming services looming over the shoulder of digital downloads, vinyl is enjoying a revival. Why? Your humble independent record shop. Last year we explored the Record Shops of London, but what about our friends in the good ole' USA? What do they have to offer us?

For the latest edition of The Record Shops of New York, we made our way to Co-op 87 Records in Brooklyn (87 Guernsey St, Brooklyn, NY 11211, United States). Responses to the Q&A come courtesy of Benjamin Steidel.

"Aligning yourself with certain cultural movements is a huge part of the way we project our vision of who we are to the rest of the world, especially in our youth. This can involve fashion, film, art, food, sports, video games, online platforms, or plenty of other things, but musical identity is huge for a lot of people. It's how so many people find their social circle and discover who they are."

Discover: The Record Shops of New York: Bleecker Street Records

Co-op 87 Records

What's on the turntable right now?

Hole's Celebrity Skin. For some odd reason, everyone working at Co-op is a Hole fan. Possibly to the annoyance of some of our customers.

Why did you decide to open a record shop?

The three original owners (we're down to two now) had all worked in record stores for years, and all worked together at some point or another. Co-op 87 was originally a more boutique-oriented store owned and operated by the label Mexican Summer, and when the opportunity to re-open it as a more traditional new-and-used, buy-sell-trade style store opened, we all jumped at the chance to have our own store together.

When did you open?

July of 2011 was the re-opening under our ownership. The Mexican Summer version started in 2009 I believe.

What else happens here other than records?

Jokes, pranks, shenanigans, caffeine, serious discussions about comic books and SNL.



Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records

What sorts of people do you get in your shop?

I would say it's a pretty wide range. Everything from die-hard jazz collectors to casual shoppers looking for cheap classic rock. Famous DJs, bedroom DJs, foreign tourists, punk bands on tour, 45 fiends, dollar-bin obsessives, hip-hop producers hunting for open drum breaks, and people who just want to talk about music with someone. We get it all.

Do you specialise in anything (second hand, new releases, genre etc.)?

We are largely second hand, with a small section of new releases and reissues. We try to represent a wide range of genres, with large sections devoted to rock, soul, and jazz, but with ample space for 45's, international music, soundtracks, etc. I work really hard to have a well maintained selection of dance music 12"s. We have a bit of everything.



Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records

With music buying now dominated by MP3, why do you think that vinyl is still so popular, especially when compared to other dead or dying formats like cassette, MiniDisc or CD?

I could probably write a book about this question. I'll try to restrain myself.

First of all, I think if you're going to own your music as a physical object, vinyl is a wonderful format. There are people still devoted to CDs and tapes, and even MiniDisc I'm sure, and more power to them! There are certainly very cool things about all of those formats, but I think there are several reasons why vinyl remains popular over the alternatives. Records have the biggest canvas for album art, which is massively appealing to collectors. Records are visually iconic, as a classic album cover or as a collection on a shelf, to the point where they've been co-opted wholesale by advertising departments, visual merchandisers, and set designers. I think that for myself and a lot of people, putting on a record is a more rewarding ritual and it just still LOOKS cool to watch a record spinning on a turntable. Furthermore I think vinyl has this wonderfully unique character of being something that feels precious and fragile; something to handle with care, but at the same time is uniquely durable. You can still listen to and enjoy records that were manufactured DECADES ago. You can still listen to 78's made at the very beginning of the 20th century. I'm not sure you'll be able to say the same for tapes and CDs in 100 years.

As for vinyl's popularity in the MP3 and digital streaming world, I think the root of it tends to be based in the fact that music is such a huge part of so many peoples' identity. Aligning yourself with certain cultural movements is a huge part of the way we project our vision of who we are to the rest of the world, especially in our youth. This can involve fashion, film, art, food, sports, video games, online platforms, or plenty of other things, but musical identity is huge for a lot of people. It's how so many people find their social circle and discover who they are.

When I was growing up, I identified as a "music guy," and my primary hobby became collecting CDs, and later, records. I found that the bulk of my friends shared that hobby. I think for people who are truly music-obsessed, buying and collecting records remains an incredibly rewarding experience. It can be extremely social, hanging out at the store or thumbing through your friend's collection. It can be solitary and contemplative, obsessively organizing your collection or digging through crates alone in a weird thrift store in some random suburb. There's the thrilling potential of finding something truly rare or unique out in the wild. Those of us who are record collectors and musicians can even make our own record! The thrill of having your own music pressed to vinyl and knowing that it will now circulate out in the world, finding its way into collections, used bins, junk shops, etc. is magical.

Digital music doesn't make for much of a hobby. You can share your spotify playlist to your Facebook friends, you can find yourself in a Youtube music wormhole, you can get really into having an amazing ratio on whatever private torrent site you're on, but it's just not enough for a lot of people. I'm 100% not trying to say that you can't be just as much of a music lover if you don't buy vinyl. I pass no judgement there. I know plenty of serious music heads who aren't physical collectors, and I think most record collectors are also carrying music around on their phone or listening to stuff on Soundcloud or whatever. I just think that records continue to hold on to popularity because it is a GREAT hobby.

There is a ton of talk about "vinyl's comeback" and there is a huge bubble of business profiting from the cultural capital of vinyl. I'm certainly benefiting from some of that. I'm sure that things like uselessly heavy 180 gram "audiophile" reissues, gimmicky colored vinyl, even more gimmicky Jack White-produced novelties, and the dreaded Record Store Day are fun for a lot of people, and are perhaps an introduction into the joys of record collecting. That said, it is a bubble, and it will burst. When there are no more think-pieces, and clothing retail chains find something else to dress their windows with, vinyl will still be here, and people will still buy records.



Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records

Do you remember the first record you sold?

No idea, sorry.

Do you remember the first record you bought?

As a small child I remember making my dad buy me Weird Al's Even Worse LP. As a teen in the '90s I was buying tapes and CD's and the first things I bought with my own money were Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Smashing Pumpkins. The first vinyl I owned was the Depeche Mode's 'Behind The Wheel' 12" which I bought at a thrift store.

What's the most prized vinyl in your collection?

One thing I've found owning a store is that I care a lot less about personally owning stuff. I get all the fun of record collecting without having to take it home. Most of the records I buy these days are for DJing, and I've purged a lot of my personal collection. That said, I have an extreme sentimental attachment to the albums that I loved as a teenager in the '90's. Hum's You'd Prefer An Astronaut, Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream, Cap'n Jazz's Shmap'n Shmazz. Those are albums I will always love, so I guess they are my most prized LPs.



Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records
Co-op 87 Records