Jim Eigo, owner of Original Vinyl Records, answered all of Goldmine’s questions (below) about his brand new record store in Warwick, New York.
[Note: For The Record is a column about the owners of record stores — and the passion they put in to make their record store unique and a valued part of the community.]
Q: When did the idea of owning a record store first occur to you?
A: Being an old record retailer I suppose it’s always been in the back of my mind. What precipitated this was my son graduating from college and landing a new job. We have a renovated out building on our property that was filled with records, books and all my stuff kind of like a combo attic, basement all-purpose storage space. We wanted to give him a leg up while he settled into his new job and help him chip away at his student loan so we’re setting him up in that space. So it was this that motivated me to move the albums, but to where? I saw a For Rent sign literally one minute from where we live in a nice little strip mall. I called the number and had a look-see. I was blown away by the space — 1100 square feet with high ceilings and plenty of light good for record browsing. So I signed the lease.
Q: How do you describe the store’s neighborhood? Good for walk-in foot traffic? Easy parking? Public transportation?
A: Warwick NY, is in the beautiful Hudson Valley. We’re in the mountains. The Appalachian trail runs right down the road from us. We’re right next door to Sneakers To Boots shoe store so there’s plenty of foot traffic and there’s plenty of parking, too.
Right across the road is Mom’s Deli with great sandwiches, homemade soup and fresh baked pastries daily. There’s also The Grange, a fantastic farm-to-table restaurant. One of the best kept secrets about Warwick is Pacem in Terris Frederick Franck’s living sculpture garden. It’s open for tours and live music Spring through Columbus Day.
Q: What do you specialize in (genres, eras, etc)? Do you attract a certain type of record buyer?
A: We stock every genre; Jazz, Blues, Rock, Pop, Nostalgia, Oddball Lounge with funny covers … you name it, it’s probably in there.
Q: When someone comes in to sell a collection, do you have certain standards for buying, (i.e., like Near Mint condition only)?
Of course. Condition is everything when buying used albums. That being said if it’s a genuine oddball record with a funny or interesting cover especially if it’s something I haven’t seen, I’ll buy it.
Q: If you do buy collections in lesser condition than Near Mint do you mark it on album plastic sleeve when in inventory?
A: Right now the store is a pickers paradise so you’re welcome to sit in our lounge area and preview an album on our state-of-the-art sound system, which is really a used record player I picked up at an estate sale for 10 bucks. It plays great, too!
Q: How do you grade vinyl records? Grading system? (Do you use Goldmine’s Grading system, for instance?)
A: We do use the Goldmine grading system, especially when we list for sale online.
Q: How has the music retail market changed over the years? Opinions on the increase of vinyl-record sales? Optimistic it will continue? New vinyl vs. used vinyl?
A: I have been in the record business going back to the 1960s. I’ve pretty much witnessed and lived through the history of the vinyl business. I don’t think a day goes by that something about the return of vinyl or vinyl sales lands in my In Box. For me, vinyl never left. I always continued to listen and buy used vinyl. The vinyl resurgence you’re seeing now — where kids are buying the new Taylor Swift or Ed Sheeran on LP — that’s fueled by the major labels.
There’s a burgeoning collectors market with all kinds of cool reissues coming from labels like Sundazed and others. And the audiophile market, too, with 180 gram pressings and this vinyl-only label Newvelle Records is doing some interesting jazz releases.
Q: Do you carry sealed vinyl of new releases and reissues?
A: Right now we’re primarily used records, but occasionally we do get sealed copies of old albums which is always nice. Down the road we will be carrying new sealed releases.
Q: Do you carry a lot of box sets and deluxe editions (CD or vinyl)?
A: I will be stocking some select new sets for the Christmas selling season and Record Store Day.
Q: Do you carry CDs (new and used)? 45s? 78s? Cassettes? 8-Tracks? Posters? DVDs/Blu-Ray? Books? Anything else?
A: All of the above. In the store we have a working vintage RCA Victor phonograph machine and an original Edison machine, too. We also have vintage 8 Track players, two vintage RCA 45 machines — one from 1949 and one from 1950 — that I had restored.
Q: Do you carry Music Magazines? If so, which ones and why?
A: I recently got a massive collection over a hundred cartons from a collector who was into jazz and pop vocals from the classic era. Not only magazines, but clippings going back to the ’40s, ’50s all the way to the present day. A ton of stuff I haven’t even sorted through yet, but eventually this will all come to the new store at some point.
Q: Do you sell audio equipment, especially turntables? If so, do you repair audio equipment, too?
A: I’d need three more stores to display all the electronics I’ve accumulated over the years. Turntables, amps, radios. Couple years back I picked a local estate sale and got one of those top-of-the-line LP washers from Discwashers.
Q: Sell t-shirts (your own t-shirts, too?) or other music-related collectibles? Memorabilia?
A: I have a ton of music-related T-shirts in my personal collection including a lot from Jazz Fest in NOLA going back to the ’80s. I’m holding on to those for now.
Q: How does the store price and organize inventory? Do you have a new arrivals section? Tags on the record sleeve, tags on bags or wait until merchandise comes to the counter to give customer price? Does the store have notes on records (description of music, performers, historical references, etc). Are records in crates, boxes, cases or bins?
A: Right now it’s strictly a ‘Diggin’ In The Crates’ set up. I did separate into categories I.e., Jazz, Rock, etc. As we progress we will be alphabetizing everything by genre.
Q: Do you clean used records before displaying? What do you user for a cleaner?
A: We do clean everything using ShopRite dust cloths, and Bags Unlimited cleaners for LPs and 78s.
Q: Is your inventory fluid? In other words, is it updated constantly, where new arrivals quickly make it to the regular inventory bins.
A: Yes. New stuff is being added every day. We have a new arrivals box and we’ll be posting on Instagram, too.
Q: How do you decorate the store? Posters, record covers … anything goes or clean as a whistle?
A: My wife Pam did the original art that’s hanging on the walls. She’s amazing. Everybody that comes in is just blown away when they see it. Aside from my wife’s original art almost everything in the store is stuff I purchased from local sales. In fact, right before I opened the store I found at a local sale of beautiful rock posters printed on fabric (see the pics).
Q: Does your store have an online presence (sell online? Discogs? EBay? website?)
A: I’ve been selling on Ebay for over a decade and Discogs, too.
Q: How do you celebrate Record Store Day? Or do you skip it? If so, why?
A: I support Record Store Day and will participate absolutely.
Q: Are you also involved in RSD Black Friday?
A: I plan to participate yes.
Q: Do you have live music in your store?
A: It’s such an amazing space with a lot of potential to do live in-stores. We want to make the store a fun place and engage the community. There’s so many amazing musicians based right here in the Hudson Valley — the guitarists Frank Vignola, James Emery (String Trio of NY), Jeff Ciampa (Möbius), Joe Lovano and his wife Judi Silvano, Jason Miles and Marty Kupersmith (one of the original founders of Jay and The Americans) all live up here, just to name a few.
Q: Do any well-known musicians frequent your store?
A: I’m sure that once we are settled in and the word gets out we may be pleasantly surprised.
Q: What’s the rarest record/record collection you’ve ever had (or currently have) in your store?
Gotta be the Beatles Yesterday And Today — the one with the pasted-over ‘butcher block’ cover.
Q: Are there genres of music you feel you lack or have less of?
A: Blues and Reggae. I’m always on the lookout for these.
Q: What makes your record store unique? How do you want your record store to improve/expand?
A: As I stated above I want the store to be a fun place to come and hang and be a part of the local community. I have so many ideas that I’d like to do like a Vinyl Listening night, jazz and poetry, artist new release showcases, kids story telling using albums.
Q: In your opinion, what is the future of record stores like yours?
A: I have a good feeling about this new venture. I have colleagues who own record stores going back 25-30 years like Tom Kohn’s Bop Shop in Rochester, NY and Joe Schwab’s Euclid Records in St. Louis and NOLA, Fred Cohen’s Jazz Record Mart in NYC and one of my all-time inspirations is the great Bob Koester who at 83 is still at it with his Jazz Record Mart in Chicago, so to answer your question if you stay true to your school and let the business build itself like Kevin Costner famously said in Field of Dreams, “if you build it, they will come.”
Q: What advice do you have for people who want to own a record store?
A: Be passionate about what you do. If you love music, collecting, meeting people, selling … go for it. A good line of credit helps, too.
Q: Personal question: what is your favorite album?
A: For someone who’s been collecting for as long as I have that’s a very difficult question. This being said I’m going with Jimi Hendrix for two reasons, besides the fact that it’s a great album from beginning to end, with so many classic Hendrix songs like “Little Wing” and “If 6 Was 9.” Way back in 1966 I saw Jimi Hendrix before we even knew who Jimi Hendrix was. I saw him with Carl Holmes and Commanders at the Cheetah Club, 49th and Broadway in NYC. I didn’t make the connection until I saw him at the Fillmore East with The Experience and Sly and the Family Stone did I realize that was the same cat.
Later in the mid ’70s I managed the jazz department at the famous Happy Tunes Records on 8th St. in the Village right across from Electric Ladyland Studios. I even got to go down there once for a mini tour. I can’t tell you what a thrill that was I still get goose bumps thinking about this.
Q: Anything else collectors/customers should know about your record store?
A: If you like to hang and talk about records come for a visit you won’t regret it.
Original Vinyl Records is located at:
314 State Route 94 South #7
Warwick, NY 10990
P: (845) 987-3131
Store Hours: Mon-Thurs (By Appointment). Fri-Sun, Noon-5pm.
[Note: Starting in November the store hours will be: Mon-Sun, Noon to 5pm.]