Spinning A Regional Record Riot

Photo By Samantha Schwartz

An inexpensive bar near I-84 made The Knights of Columbus in Hopewell Junction, N.Y. the ideal venue for Stephen Gritzan to organize the first Hudson Valley Record Riot.

The fair, held on Sunday, Feb. 10, housed 40 dealers selling primarily vinyl records, cassettes, DVDs, T-shirts and other merchandise.

“Think of it as a big store,” Gritzan said.

Gritzan has coordinated record fairs in six cities over the last five years, most notably, the tri-annual Brooklyn Record Riot. After he moved to Goshen, N.Y. as a part time resident, he said he saw an opportunity to bring shows to the area.

For the past 15 years, Gritzan has owned Iris Record Shop in Jersey City, N.J., and remembers when no one wanted vinyl.

“Now CDs are in the garbage,” he said.

Based on the Nielsen Company and Billboard’s music industry report, vinyl sales increased 19 percent in 2012 compared to 2011. Boxed retailers like Amazon have stiffened competition for local record stores who have been forced to close their doors, according to John Greak, who helped table for Jack’s Rhythms of New Paltz, where he’s worked since 2009.

Greak has set up record fairs since 1998, and remembers before digital downloads when CDs replaced vinyl as the primary medium.

“These shows were one of the few places outside of record stores that provided a reliable source of vinyl to both novice and hardcore collectors,” Greak said.

The Hudson Valley Record Riot was comprised almost entirely of independent dealers, Gritzan said. He estimated that 90 percent of those that tabled were not affiliated with a store, but simply part of a dealer community who buy and sell records for a living.

Gritzan said buying albums at a show is a social experience — bumping elbows while digging through crates for quality records. People want to meet others who collect, he said.

The leisurely atmosphere was important, because Gritzan said he wanted a low-key affair, a place with a bar.

“Thrift shops and flea markets can be great for the occasional find, but the record shows provide not only the opportunity to search for specific items, but to connect with like minded folks face to face,” Greak said.

When he preps for fairs, Greak takes into account what the potential customer base will look like.

“A show in Brooklyn will tend to have a younger or more musically curious feel to it, so you can bring edgier fare, like punk, indie rock, hip hop or more experimental genres, as opposed to a show in northern New Jersey, where classic rock and bop jazz are still the big movers,” he said.

Greak estimates that between 100 and 150 people visited throughout the day, and said there was more diversity in what was sold compared to the scarcity of recent local shows.

Gritzan said he hopes to host another local record fair in the fall.