By Lara Tabbara.
While the rent in New York City’s Greenwich Village is escalating, some shops do not make the cut. Bleecker Bob’s, a record store that has been around for 44 years, is closing its doors to vinyl lovers. Rooted on Bleecker Street, the music haven will soon be saying its goodbyes and the space will be converted into a frozen yoghurt place.
Bleecker Bob’s has been in the same small spot for the last 31 years, said Ski the store’s assistant manager. He is both a music collector and lover, and has been working for the vinyl boutique for seven and a half years.
Nostalgia fills the air of this large record store. On the ceiling t-shirts drape from feeble hangers, creating an umbrella of memories. Not one inch of the walls are left bare; record covers, posters and photos color the interior of the store. Even the old cash register is loaded with reminiscence, as stickers are chaotically placed one over the other on the metallic surface. “It’s kind of a time warp,” said Ski glancing around the boutique.
The smell of cardboard adds to the spirit of listening to vinyl records. Overwhelming feelings of curiosity and nostalgia are felt when fingering one of the hundreds of labels lined up chronologically in the boutique.
It all started when Bob Plotnik, the owner, had a stroke in 2001, said Ski. The store’s lease will not be renewed in 2013 because the rent has become unaffordable. With a spiking raise of $15,000 – $20,000 per month, clients are becoming scarce and revenue is not keeping up.
There is still a flow of loyal customers, explained Ski, but it does not suffice to stabilise profit. Once upon a time, Bleecker Bob’s was nest to a blooming social scene, stimulating business and sales. Ski said, “Back in the day people used to hang out here,” but only faint scares remain of its entertaining past, and these are barely traceable on the floors. Times have changed, and now tourists barely come in to purchase from the large vinyl collection. Sadly, the record store can longer pay its bills and so is running out of business.
Gone is the golden epoch when records were cheap and popular. Ski believes that “living in the past is the cheaper way to go,” but living in New York means possessing the ability to adapt to rapid change, and Bleecker Bob’s is one of the many stores that does not survive the economical and landscape alterations of the city. “It’s sad but it happens,” said Ski, who possess and “adapt or die” attitude.
“I’ll miss everything,” sadly concluded Ski. But it is not the end of Bleecker Bob’s. Ski will continue selling some of their merchandise online and their spirit will possibly transcend to a new location.