Red Hook Records

Much as shopping for records in Paris or Berlin or London sounds magical, a recurrent dream of stores stuffed with rare records at bargain prices and new stuff that’s never jumped across the pond, New York City is and may always be the record shopping capital of the world. How did Mr. Berry put it: “Anything you want we got it right here in the USA.”

New York’s preeminence as the place to search for old and new vinyl, (or CDs from any era if that’s your thing), was brought home to me last weekend when after a tasty brunch at the venerable Hope & Anchor bistro/joint, and before descending into the final and most painful ring of hell which is IKEA on a Saturday afternoon, my wife and I strolled past 360 Van Brunt Street, i.e. on the main drag of Red Hook such as it is, and there I stumbled upon an acquaintance, Bene Coopersmith (pronounced Benny) who’d opened a new record store.

A long time Sunday fixture at Fifth Avenue Record and Tape Center, one of the oldest and craziest record stores in NYC, Coopersmith hasn’t quite picked a name for his new place—a local newspaper article mentioned “Swoopys Groove Palace” but Coopersmith laughs and waves me off when asked about that particular handle. A carpenter among his many other skills, Coopersmith has fixed up 360 with a skylight and new plank wood floors. A pair of turntables lurk just inside the front window. The space itself has quite a history having been the site of a popular restaurant called 360 (closed in 2007), a onetime home for spinning classes and even a saxophone repair shop.

Whether Bene will make a go of it will depend, like everything else in Red Hook, on the B61 bus, which other than owning a car, is the only way in or out of the neighborhood. While I only shopped for a moment—wife waiting patiently outside—it seemed like he had the beginnings of a respectable collection. An in-the-shrink, M- copy of U2’s Unforgettable Fire was $6 and a copy of Rufus Harley’s Bagpipe Blues, which is profoundly strange stuff if you don’t know it, also in VG++ shape, was $8. So far, the quality versus price equation seems to be working about right. Added into the mass of record stores in Greenpoint, a few survivors in pricey Williamsburg and a handful scattered across Carroll Gardens, Park Slope and that center of all things hipster, Bushwick, it may now be more accurate to say that Brooklyn, New York is the record shopping capital of the world? Best of luck Bene!

Allen Fant's picture

Good review. Why not?- we all know that the physical media (CD/DVD/LP) is not going away, anytime soon!

HammerSandwich's picture

...the final and most painful ring of hell which is IKEA on a Saturday afternoon...

Never been to Walmart or Chuck-E-Cheese, Mr. Baird?

jnani's picture

Try the Dallas freeways during a winter storm when everything is iced over, there are 10 million vehicles on the roads, and two million of them have never even seen snow.

Osgood Crinkly III's picture

Are you kidding? This is the armpit of Brooklyn. Docks, warehouses and crime.

Look up the address 360 Van Brunt St., Brooklyn on Google maps, street view. Inviting, isn't it? Perfect place for a little yuppie Sunday record hunting.

No wonder Mrs. Baird wanted to get out of there, pronto.

John Atkinson's picture
Osgood Crinkly III wrote:
Are you kidding? This is the armpit of Brooklyn. Docks, warehouses and crime.

Maybe at the time Arthur Miller wrote "A View From the Bridge," but since IKEA settled in with its Brooklyn store, the area is becoming gentrified.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

beauranheim's picture

The Google maps photo is over 2 years old. There have been definite upgrades in the area. A couple of blocks down are 2 very good places for breakfast/lunch on a weekend. Even further down is one of the best BBQ places in NYC, and a very good grocery store. A little more exploring will lead you to a place that has chocolate covered mini Key Lime pies. Yes having a car is almost mandatory unless you want to leave with a bus filled with Ikea shoppers. Another alternative weekend would be to take the NY Water Taxi in, make the 10 minute walk to the record store then stop at your preferred eating establishment on the way back to the ferry.

Vinyl53's picture

Kind of like getting excited about discovering sushi on the new Denny's menu. Let me guess - they got a wine menu too!!

dalethorn's picture

Google the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, touted as possibly the next Silicon Valley. Some of those reports go back 2 years or more.