Monday, January 30, 2012

Rockit Scientist Records

VANISHING (for now)

After the announcement that Starbucks will (maybe) take over Bleecker Bob's (then again, not), here comes more bad news for record-store lovers and vinyl aficionados. Rockit Scientist Records on St. Mark's Place is shuttering at the end of February.

It's another case of a landlord hiking rent.



Owner John Kioussis told me, "my lease is ending and i don't want to renew at the current rate, i asked for a rent reduction and was turned down. While business wasn't great, it just isn't worth paying $8500 a month."

Kioussis hopes the shop will last through March. After they close, he plans to do mail order for a bit, then "I'll look to reopening sometime in the summer if i find something reasonable."



Opened in 1996, Rockit Scientist used to be on Carmine Street. In 2003, when it moved to St. Mark's Place, the Times published a long and loving tribute to the store, describing "why places like Rockit Scientist still exist in a retailing landscape marked by vast impersonal megastores and their online brethren."

"More broadly," they wrote, "it is why places like New York still exist, places where clutter and congestion may not be mere inconveniences but the catalysts of random discovery or accidental innovation, where a store selling the most specialized merchandise can attract a large clientele, and where one can find a sense of community just by opening a door."

Today, with a 7-11 moving in next door, maybe the Rockit Scientist space will get a Subway--or a Starbucks. That's about all that can survive here now. So much for random discovery, accidental innovation, and community.



As Kioussis says on the shop's Facebook page, independent record stores are "hassle-free places to hang out, to talk rubbish fearlessly, to argue loudly without being asked to move on, to form bands, to see bands, to hand out flyers--even to not buy music. Indie record shops have something the major chains will never replicate no matter how many surveys and spreadsheets they employ: they are cool."

And so another piece of cool departs from St. Mark's Place.

18 comments:

EV Grieve said...

Ugh. Always a good place for bargains. Hope that John can find another space somewhere in the neighborhood.

esquared said...

My money is on a ramen or some sort of Asian fusion restaurant to take over that space.

At least Sounds is still there, and I bet not for much longer.

St. Mark's Place is just a shade of its punk rock and bohemian past; a past that had Warhol, Velvet Underground, Hendrix, Basquiat. what will the past be for the present St. Mark's Place?

Bowery Boogie said...

or a bank...

Anonymous said...

ask yourself when was the last time you bought something from Rockit Scientist and then you may be able to understand why they couldn't last much longer. speaking for myself, the last time i bought something from there must have been over eight years ago...even though i pop in there every so often

Signed D.C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Campbell Taylor said...

Anonymous 10:29AM has a point. I haven't been to Rockit Scientist in at least two years, but mainly because I tend to avoid that stretch of St. Mark's if I can help it. Most of the area's clientele is too young to remember CDs, let alone LPs.

Marty Wombacher said...

And another one bites the dust. I spent the better part of my youth hanging out in record stores and never thought I'd see the day when they would be disappearing. I hope they can find a cheaper place to relocate to.

Ken Mac said...

Bummer. They used to be on Carmine Street and I went daily. And always when on St Marks. Damn. They had an excellent Krautrock selection, as well as Prog and International. John's a survivor, I know RS will reopen elsewhere.

Caleo said...

He should be able to find something for approx. half his current rate on the LES.
Let's hope he tries looking, because reasonable commercial rents are still out there.

Anonymous said...

they say that food is the new indie rock...and the new st.marks sort of goes to show that. st.marks turned into a place for cheap eats...not necessarily a bad thing but damn, another deathblow to subterranean nyc culture.

i spent countless hours picking through the $3 cd bins out front of rockit. i also used to pick through the cheap bins when they were on carmine.

now, im 31 and cant get my fingers dirty...or fuck, i dont even buy cds anymore.

still a shame to see another part of the village close up.

i think generation, normans, and other music are the last guys standing for now...for now.

Anonymous said...

Fuck this fucking town...

I can't take it anymore. I'm not going to mince words here: the young people of NYC are a bunch of spoiled pussy motherfuckers who have more interest in artisanal food and specialty coffee than they do in moving a creative culture forward. Why even come here if you're just going to transfer your safe little rah-rah lifestyle from the suburbs to the city? Go back to where you came from and let the rents plummet here. You don't deserve it.

Ken Mac said...

fuck this fucking town said it all, and damn well. Tell it brother!!

Anonymous said...

Record stores are closing yet hundreds of douchebag and douchebaggettes dressed in elf and Santa outfits invaded the E. Village this past Christmas for a pub-creep. That's right, I said pub-CREEP. A 'crawl' would be giving them too much credit. Can you imagine back in the day if you suggested to your friends that you dress up like Santa and spend the whole day and night walking around smashed? You'd probably get your face smacked in before you could finish what you were saying. Whatever the case may be, I'll bet a million bucks that when the drunk Santa artisanal food people start reproducing their kids are going to fucking hate them by the time they reach high school.

ShatteredMonocle said...

Crazy stupid rent is the problem, not a lack of business. On a positive note I now have absolutely no reason to walk down this wretched block.

Check this out.

JakeGould said...

I am pretty certain the history of this physical store includes the original location of “Manic Panic” or at least the store that spawned “Manic Panic” hair dyes. I remember it being a CD buy/sell store in the 1980s. Then it was the “new” home to zine store “See Hear{ before Tim at “See Hear” realized it was a bad move. And ten became this record store. Drunk now but remember that much. You can do worse!

JakeGould said...

Yes! I was right even when drunk. This was the location of the original Manic Panic store! 33 Saint Marks Place!

http://www.manicpanic.com/about.html

'America's first punk rock shop began as an extension of Tish and Snooky Bellomo's closet. "Everybody was always copying our style," Snooky recalled, "so we wondered if we could sell it." The result was Manic Panic, which was a fixture at 33 St. Mark's Place from its June 1977 opening until it closed early in 1989.'

Ms.Paradise said...

SAD. I was just thinking about this place. He always has an amazing and inspiring inventory. Its the shop where I used to take all my tourist friends. Its true- the city is losing its culture and is completely being run over by yuppie, hipster trash. I live in LA these days and sometimes I dont know which feels worse- missing the city or returning to find everything ...gone.

damn shame.

MK said...

Unfortunately this cultural neutering is not merely a New York thing; I live in Boston and the same thing has been happening: a depressing influx of clueless young hipsters more concerned with the tags on your clothes than the contents of your mind, who don't even know what "record shopping" means. "What, you mean you used to have to go to a store to get music? And you had to PAY for it?!" It's the end of an era, folks, and it's a damn shame; unless the cranky thirtysomethings we've become can turn the tide, we'll soon be doomed to get all our music from Amazon or (ugh) Itunes.