20 years for Hill music store surprises even its owner
by Len Lear
Brian Reisman never thought his business would last 20 years when he opened Hideaway Music Store in the parking lot behind what is now Chestnut Hill Sushi on the 8600 block of Germantown Avenue.
“I was tired of freelancing for many years and wanted to try something new,” he said last Friday. “I thought Chestnut Hill needed a music store, but I’m surprised I’m still here after all this time.”
Reisman and his son Sean, who has worked with him for both decades, are celebrating this Saturday, Oct. 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the store’s current location, the “Refuge” on the ground floor of 8232 Germantown Ave. (The store has moved around the avenue over the years, moving to the spot next to Weavers Way and up the hill just across from Bethlehem Pike before settling where it stands find now.)
They are planning cupcakes with the Hideaway logo and 20% off any new or used record except sealed box sets. Only per customer.
A lot has changed since Reisman developed his love of music.
“I remember always having my records on me when I was young,” he told the local in an earlier interview. “I used to bring them to parties and just sit around and listen to them with people. These days, all you have to do is press a button and put on your headphones.
Reisman is now on a mission to preserve great music from the past, essentially selling nostalgia, he said — one vintage record, turntable or concert poster at a time.
“Our slogan is Better Living through Vinyl,” he said.
In 2002, when Reisman opened its first store, the recording industry looked as dead as a supermarket chicken wrapped in cellophane. But he now says it’s back — with a ferocity that could rival that of an NFL running back recovering from a serious knee injury.
“For example,” Reisman said last week, “Taylor Swift released a new song on a 45rpm record in April, and I had five teenagers, four girls and a boy, camped outside the store at 3 a.m. They waited there for six hours until I opened at 9 a.m., I only had seven or eight records, and they were $15 each, but they sold out right away.
When he first opened the store, Reisman said, what was sold were new and used CDs. But that’s no longer true – and vinyl is now the mainstream. Many old hits have been re-released on vinyl, and Taylor Swift’s new song hasn’t even been released on CD.
“Vinyl is now 95% of my sales, both new and vintage,” he said. “In fact, eight months ago I got rid of a lot of CDs to make room for vinyl records.”
Of course, Hideaway, which also sells vintage gear like receivers, speakers and turntables, had to shut down at the start of the pandemic. But it reopened within six months, by which time only five customers were allowed at a time. “I’m lucky that even during the pandemic there was always a demand for records,” Reisman said.
The music maven grew up in Mt. Airy and went to Germantown High School, where he graduated in 1968. He then went to New York University, majoring in film production and transforming after getting his degree in writing for film production companies. He wrote for radio and Discovery Channel on television, pursuing a career as a freelance writer until 20 years ago.
Much of Reisman’s business involves buying and selling record collections. He even makes house calls. It turns out that many older people have collections of 45s or 78s from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s that they consider valuable.
“I’m very selective when people show me their record collections,” Reisman said. “They must be in near mint condition. I don’t buy classical, Big Band or Broadway music. I buy rock, jazz, blues, R&B, soul and country, but only if they have value, which is rare. Nobody wants to buy a broken record. So things that have no value go into the dollar bin.
What are Reisman’s musical preferences?
“I like old country stars like Merle Haggard and George Jones, who I saw at Keswick.”
Does he have his own collection?
“I don’t have any record collection myself, of any kind. I listen to music eight hours a day in the store, so I don’t listen to music at home.
Who buys your records?
“People of all ages. I’ve had kids around 12 buy Doors records.
For more information, call 215-248-4434 or visit hideawaymusic.org.