Countdown to Record Store Day, Part 2: J&R

J&R Vinyl
One corner of the J&R vinyl department
Now that Tower and Virgin have vanished from the New York music retail scene (RIP), the only place in town to still get that old school multi-floor record store fix is J&R.

This is the place to go when you’re looking for new CDs and vinyl (they do have some used bins but it’s far from their specialty). J&R has three major strengths when it comes to serving the music buyer: selection, scope, and price. A pretty good combo if you ask me!

The main floor is mostly given to a very large pop/rock section. When it comes to classic artists like The Doors, Steely Dan, and Talking Heads, you’ll usually find their full catalogs plus some unexpected import items. Lots of lesser known artists too. Captain Beyond? Humble Pie? Free? Pretty much if it’s in print, you have a good chance of finding it here. They also carry a lot of indie labels, so you’ll find stuff from Relapse, Light in the Attic, Merge, Nuclear Blast, and on and on.

In addition to the rock/pop selection, you’ll find dedicated sections for oldies, rap & hip hop, a good sized jazz room and large classical and opera rooms, country, blues, and a sizable world music collection. There’s also a dedicated “audiophile” section (with gold CDs, SACD and DVD-A releases), folk and gospel sections, and more.

J&R’s regular prices are on the low side, and, even better, they always seem to be running some kind of sale. New releases in particular seem to go for sometimes surprisingly low sale prices.

Well, that’s a long intro. Let’s get to the Record Store Day stuff. J&R is definitely the place to go in NYC if you’re looking for the special limited releases, particularly the more mainstream ones like the Stones, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix items.

J&R window sign
Some of the items coming on Saturday.
I talked to Senior Store Manager Charlie Bagarozza and Marketing Manager Wayne Olsen at the store on Tuesday. Record Store Day has grown exponentially since it’s debut in 2008, so much so that in 2009, Wayne says, there was more demand for the special items than either record stores or record labels had expected. Customers weren’t able to get everything they were looking for. But this year both record companies and shops are taking extra steps to make sure that the demand is better met. Wayne said he’s feeling good about the stock they’ve been getting in in preparation for Saturday. That said, these are limited items, and Record Store Day is expected to be even bigger than last year, so get there early! The store opens at 9 a.m., but keep in mind that there was already a line formed outside before opening last year.

In addition to the special releases, J&R has a lot of fun stuff going on including free giveaways, autograph signings, and performances (including one by Judy Collins). Check the full list of goings-on here: J&R Record Store Day Events.

Did I mention that they’re running a sale all week on all CDs and vinyl in the store? Yeah, J&R is a pretty great record store.