Word broke yesterday evening that Big City Records , one of the most beloved vinyl outposts in New York City, will be shutting the doors to its flagship East Village location as of September 1st. (Its online and Jersey City store will remain open for business.) Honestly, it's hard to properly articulate what a punch to the gut this is to those of us who've regularly patronized the shop over the years. Despite the sad fact that announcements of record store closings have become pretty common in recent years, for whatever reason I (probably naively) never thought the day would come when Big City wouldn't be here. Borne from the ashes of the famed original Sound Library - which once stood around the corner on Avenue A - it hasn't just been a place to buy records and get schooled on music, it's been a vital social hub for a community of collectors, DJs, producers, and hopeless music nerds. Where the running into and catching up with friends, the hanging out and shooting the shit, the debates, the stories, the spontaneous exchanges with a Large Pro, Showbiz, DJ Scratch or any number of legends, the going down block to the bodega to grab a coffee or beer for whoever happened to be in the place - where all that was as essential to the "record shopping" experience as the chance to pull something off the wall (or even out the dollar bin) and make your day.
An appreciation of that very sense of community pervaded the email sent out to the shop's customers yesterday.
Big City Records:
Since our opening
in September 2006
Big City records
was built by your dedicated
purchases, loyal support,
word of mouth to many,
and your vinyl brought in
for trade or cash
Its real ownership belong to you,
who receive this mail of thanks,
and the ones that traveled from
around the world to
support, and enjoy
the vinyl life
Pass the music on,
and never stop diggin'
for all things
hard to find.
Some of my fondest memories of going to the shop in recent years actually haven't even been so much directly record- but family-related: bringing my young son, Trevor, by to visit with friend and shop proprietor/public face, Jared "JBX" Boxx - a dude with a heart of gold. "Aw, let him tear the place up," I'll always remember Jared saying with a laugh that winter day a few years back when lil' Trev excitedly exclaimed "Look at all the records!" and proceeded to wreak all kinds of havoc on the cheap bins and whatever else was in reach. Of course, it's been because of family (and work, and growing up, and a lot of things that coincide with the passage of time) that I haven't made the trip downtown to Big City with the frequency that I used to. And whenever I'd show my face at the shop the first question from J was always an amused, "How's Trev?" There might have been days when I walked out of Big City without records, but never, ever without a smile.
My go-to summation of role the Big City's of the world play for some of us has always been this: regular folks go to a bar to unwind after work; those of the "vinyl life" - (c) JBX - would rather go to our favorite record store. (You know, where everybody knows your name.) And in that spirit, as the shop counts down its final days in the coming weeks, I'm sure a whole gang of folks will be raising it up in tribute. Thanks for the records, Big City. But more importantly, thanks for the memories.
A video interview from two years ago with Jared Boxx that includes a testimonial from Easy Mo Bee, and footage from the Tuesday nights "Lost & Found" nights at Savalas the old Big City crew used to do.
Shouts to: Jared, Steve Harrigan, Forrest Getemgump, Teddy King, Old Chris, Boogieman, Mixed Greens, and all the regulars past and present.