New record store plays on growing vinyl love

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“Do not use the word ‘vinyls’ in the plural.” Adrian Rew educated. The owner of Ergot Records donned a beanie and Birkenstocks with socks inside his store. “Vinyl is the material that records are made of. Thus, the plural of record is records, the plural of vinyl is vinyl. Rew opened Ergot in September and business has been surprisingly good.

He decided to open his store during the pandemic when rents were falling. Rew worked at A1, near Tompkins Square Park, before going to work for a non-profit organization. But he missed his time in a record store, which inspired him to start his own.

The store, which is located at 2nd Street and Second Ave., took about three months to renovate and set up. Most of the renovations were done by Rew’s girlfriend, Valerie Keane, a New York-based sculptor. “She has all the practical feminine skills that I totally miss,” says Rew. Keane built all of the furniture in the store.

Ergot is an offshoot of Rew’s label of the same name that he founded 10 years ago. The label still exists and produces something akin to lo-fi fusion music with globally inspired notes, and Rew says there’s something coming next year.

The name Ergot comes from a type of fungus that grows on rye bread. The fungus is believed to cause hallucinations and is believed to be involved in major historical events like the Salem Witch Trials or the Dancing Plague of 1518. Rew likes that it represents a “renewal of older objects, like used records.” He also joked that the association of ergot with the dancing plague makes it the perfect name for a store opening during COVID.

Business is doing so well that it is in fact a problem. Although Rew spent the early days of the pandemic shopping for record collections for his future store, it wasn’t enough. “Used drives are a non-renewable resource, so I can’t just order more,” says Rew. To rebuild its inventory, it sources collections and makes deals in the tri-state region. “I am happy to make house calls. Rew tries to include a variety of genres from rock and electronics to minimalism, so her store has a little something for everyone. Although he plans to expand his collection of new albums, he loves “moldy oldies” and is always happy to shop in store.

Record sales have increased in recent years, especially among millennials and millennials. According to MRC mid-year data, vinyl sales have increased 108.2% this year, and 2020 marked the 15th consecutive year of increased growth. Last year was the first year since 1991 that vinyl has sold more than CDs.

Rew doesn’t know why young people like records. “It’s so hard for me to get into the mindset of the younger generation because they grew up not seeing music as a physical object,” he says. He estimates that the age group in his store is 20 to 50 years old, with a handful of NYU kids.

“Magnificent tightrope law”

Paul Cavalconte is a radio host for New York Public Radio and has been in love with vinyl his entire life. He is one of the few presenters who still play records live. On Sundays, he hosts a program called “Vinyl Experience” where he duplicates recordings on his hi-fi system in order to be able to broadcast them on the air.

Cavalconte grew up adopting his parents’ old 78 rpm records. When he started working for radio stations, they still used vinyl. “There was a wonderful tightrope walk act,” says Cavalconte. “You queued up a record and hit start, and it spins, and it might skip, and maybe the solution was to take a quarter out of your pocket and place it gently on the tone arm. . ” The sound of the decks queuing for the next record is still missing. “It’s very different when you are sitting in front of the computer screen and watching the numbers scroll in front of you. “

But Cavalconte is not opposed to the digital age. “As a radio DJ, I was completely blown away by the CDs,” he said. Having a singular record with any variety of songs that automatically did most of the work was a game-changer. Cavalconte no longer needed to guess when a song would finish playing as there was now a countdown and CDs turned out to be much lighter than records. But he also complains that the sound quality is “brilliant and brittle” without the depth of vinyl records that have “the flow of live music”.

Calvalconte believes the appeal of records to young people comes from hearing older generations talk about better sound quality. He also thinks it might come from a desire to connect to a more analog world now that all the information is at your fingertips. Although the records are made, Cavalconte loves their analog nature. “It’s about owning a piece of the past and having an object from the past that becomes an object of beauty, which becomes an object of art,” he says.

Rew wants his store to sell the cream of the crop. “From a postmodern perspective, the notion of authenticity is so often rejected,” he says, describing what he’s looking for. He describes authenticity as “when this music is shouted out by the souls of these people”.

He also wants to create a community of music lovers, which he does by hosting events like live DJs or launch parties. “That’s really what a record store is to me, as opposed to an online business,” says Rew. “It provides that space for different types of music fans to coexist in the space and inevitably begin to converse and learn from each other.”


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