After 28 years in business, Rebel Rebel Records at 319 Bleecker Street is being forced to close by rising rent. It will shutter at the end of June.
Reader John Vairo, Jr., writes in:
Owner David Shebiro "told us that the owner of the building has raised the rent (what else is new) and they plan to put another basic 'high-end' clothing store in its place--because that's what the Village needs."
John adds, "To say that Rebel Rebel is an institution would be an understatement and to see a unique and sustainable business for nearly 28 years bite the dust like so many others that give this city soul is a fucking tragedy."
photo by Evan Kafka
The news about Rebel Rebel has been percolating these past weeks. Other readers have written in to tell me that "the clothing store next door" is going to be expanding into the record shop's space. If that's the case, that store is either Scotch & Soda to the east or St. James to the west.
UPDATE: Mr. Shebiro confirmed: "it's my very next door neighbors who are planning to break through the wall, and their name is Scotch & Soda."
I remember when St. James moved in. With its Hamptons chic, the "nautical brand" made me nervous for Rebel Rebel. This kind of gentrification is contagious. Scotch & Soda came next, replacing the local favorite Cafe Angelique when the landlord hiked the rent from $16,000 to $42,000 a month. Sandwiched between those two, it was clear that Rebel Rebel was next.
In 2014, the beloved record shop made the Vanishing New York "What to Worry About" list--a long list that is growing shorter by the day.
Only weeks ago, AMNY listed Rebel Rebel as one of Bleecker's few remaining icons, a rapidly vanishing breed on a street that is turning into a center for high-end luxury shopping mall brands and candy treats--and not much else.
What record stores remain in the Village? Bleecker Bob's shut down. Bleecker Street Records was pushed off Bleecker when the landlord raised the rent to $27,000 per month, but it's hanging in there on West 4th. There's House of Oldies over on Carmine, miraculously surviving.
Now the door is closing on another one--not because "it's natural," not because "that's the trend," or people are shopping online, or any of those other reasons too often given for the apocalyptic die-off of New York culture. It's because of the rent. Period.
And rebels are no longer welcome in this city.
Once again: #SaveNYC. You can help stop the bleeding.