Back in April I wrote an essay about National Record Store Day. As I was spilling my brain into the keyboard, my thoughts were targeted towards a business I’ve frequented for as long as I’ve been in my town, which is a frighteningly long period of time – almost three decades of squatterdom.
There have always been cool indie stores in this town, like The Bop Shop and the Lakeshore Record Exchange. House of Guitars is even a legendary pit stop for every musician coming through upstate New York. And despite a crappy economy, some great clubs and pubs still survive. When I used to travel frequently, I was always in search of the cool record store, along with the clubs that had great bands and the best draft beer pub in town. I’ve been lucky enough to experience a ton of great record stores, from Amoeba to Newbury Comics to Waterloo, but I firmly believe that Record Archive is one of the best shops in the country. They…well, they just have everything.
Today, as they celebrated their “33 1/3 Anniversary“, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a presentation by the Mayor and several local dignitaries…and a few popping corks, of course. Recently moved to a huge warehouse emporium, The Record Archive is the place to go for area residents, but also boasts a thriving international business spearheaded by their massive collection of vinyl. What was once a great local treasure is now a click away to buyers from around the globe.
But it goes beyond all that.
Richard Storms was the first Rochesterian I met when I first came to town. A friend (ex-Flashcube Paul Armstrong) and his band were recording an album in the wee hours of the morning for Storm’s label. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I seem to remember four of us going out for Chinese food and talking shop for hours. Little did I know that our paths would continue to intersect so often, or the thousands of hours I would spend in his stores poring through albums, watching incredible bands play in-store concerts, and just plain hanging out.
Alayna Hill-Alderman, who now co-owns the shop, is a key member of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores and a driving force for all things right in the industry. She’s smart as a whip and manages a wonderful staff who make customers feel like guests and regulars feel like family. Like Richard, she’s worked diligently to keep Record Archive alive and vibrant at a time when businesses struggle mightily, and any artist coming through town has a sharp and savvy ally in Alayna.
So I was honored to be able to witness this honor today…and what a special treat to see that our Mayor is a fan and a customer as well as a politician thankful to have a great business thrive in his city:
Mayor Robert J. Duffy and Neighborhood and Business Development Commissioner R. Carlos Carballada joined partners Richard F. Storms and Alayna Hill Alderman at the 33⅓-year anniversary celebration for Record Archive. The store, located at 33⅓ Rockwood St., specializes in new and used CD, DVD and vinyl record inventories, as well as a wide variety of unusual items including incense, vintage clothing and furniture, t-shirts, toys, cards, magazines, gifts and used VHS videos. In addition, the new location features an art gallery space which is affiliated with Rochester’s First Friday art openings and a full performance stage complete with lights, sound and recording capabilities for hosting local, regional and national musical acts.
Record Archive, Inc. was started in 1975 by Richard Storms. The store’s original location was 1394 Mt. Hope Avenue. In 1994, a second location was opened at 1880 East Ave. – which became the sole location after the Mt. Hope store closed in 2005. In 2008, Richard decided to move to 33⅓ Rockwood St., which is substantially larger than the company’s previous East Avenue space. The expansion has accommodated the company’s growing Internet business for both CD’s and vinyl records. The space was originally an industrial facility and needed to be re-purposed to accommodate Record Archive’s walk-in retail and Internet business.
Record Archive is the largest vintage record store in the northeast and is a member of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS). CIMS, founded in 1995, is a group of some of the best independent music stores in America. Its current membership is made up of 29 accounts that handle 59 stores in 21 states. Many of the accounts have been recognized by the music industry and their local communities for their outstanding dedication to customer service and developing artist support. Each member is bound by its shared love of music, a reputation for great selection and customer service in the community, yet each CIMS account is as unique as the market it represents. Most importantly, CIMS member stores continually seek to challenge the jaded, color-by-numbers advertising and marketing of other retailers.
The store has 11 employees, of which seven are city residents. More than $100,000 was invested in developing the expanded space at 33⅓ Rockwood. The City of Rochester assisted with a grant from the Building Renovation Program.
Website for the Coalition of Independent Music Stores