Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Rebel Rebel Records

VANISHING

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.




26 comments:

MrSlade said...

I think Spotify and Apple Music had more to do with this store closing than the rent. If I was still paying $18.99 for every album with a couple hit songs being played on the radio they would be able to pay whatever the landlord asked.

Jeremiah Moss said...

As I say in the post, it was the rent. Also, landlords no longer want small businesses in their buildings. They state this up front. They want only luxury chains and the everyday national chains. So they choose to put the little guys out of business. I've seen it now about a million times. It's not Spotify.

Marian said...

Digital music has been a "thing" for over 15 years - remember Napster? I no longer live in NYC but when I was a regular at Rebel they carried CDs, magazines, and other merch. When I visited last month it was floor-to-ceiling vinyl so they clearly have changed with the market. It was the goddamned rent! My heart aches.

Donnie Moder said...

When I lived in the Village off Bleecker, Rebel Rebel was one of the "new" used record stores. I assume House Of Oldies on Carmine off Bleecker remains. There were used record stores every where you turned in the late 90s even though cds reigned.

me said...

i'm a huge music fan and DJ, have purchase a tons of records and cds over the years, and still buy them today. that being said, i haven't bought anything at rebel rebel in years. have you ever tried to shop there? boxes upon boxes of stuff stacked on top of one another with no way to look at anything, can barely walk through the store.

i love record stores more than any other retail business, like the guy who runs rebel and am very sad to hear they are going out of business, but that place made for a throughly unappealing browsing experience.

Peter Lappin said...

Academy's still hanging on thank goodness!

Jason Ledyard said...

It's due to the large scale corporations. They will starve out every last good NYC business through paying obscenely high rents paid for by revenue accrued through their nationwide chains.

ps chase said...

Yeah, I have to second your point Jeremiah, because Spotify does not make the money it would appear to, that's a documented fact, and I work in that world. You shouldn't have to be a multimillionaire to run a decent sustainable business small business in NYC.

This simple truth will reveal itself when, in less than 5 years I'd bet, whatever store replaces Rebel Rebel will itself be replaced by a larger entity, testing the capitalist waters. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against making / spending money, but there is a point where it becomes kind of crass and senseless.

jim said...

Have to agree with "me" above...I lived in this store in high school and would revisit whenever I was in NYC. The last time I went, about 2 months ago, the experience was really unpleasant. No way to browse at all. I stayed about 5 minutes. Too bad though.

Groove_Dirk said...

Don't forget Other Music is closing on the East side. So two of the better record stores around are both closing down in Manhattan. A crying shame.

@Dirtstax said...

I've gotta agree with poster Me above, is anyone bemoaning Rebel Rebel's closing someone who's actually spent time or money there? I used to work in the area and the few times I would stop in everything was overpriced and disorganized in a way that made you not want to be there. There are plenty on record stores in the city that do it right, but RR wasn't one of them. Is rising rent an issue, yes. Is it sad when places that have been around for years get pushed out, yes. Do I enjoy there being record shops in NYC, of course. Was there ever a reason to go to RR? Sadly, no.

Christine said...

#SaveRebelRebelRecords What can we do to stop this? I love this store. David helped me out by holding onto a David Bowie picture disc that he got back in stock after Record Store day this year. That doesn't happen at other places.

Violet Skye said...

im literally crying my eyes out like a baby because of the last sentence u wrote this is fucking sad and i feel like shit
i moved out of new york in 2014 because I could fucking afford living there ..
im working in shitty jobs somewhere in this globe hoping to return .. but everything i know is vanishing from new york !
god i remember this guy he is an amazing man !! he helped me out have my first vinyl collection !
Farrah

Glenn Velger said...

The same thing happened to Harmony Records Inc. (Bronx since 1956).Independent mom and pop record stores don't have a shot. A damn shame.

punkboy713 said...

^truth look at all of the Bowery.. All gone. St.Marks Pl. Rents! The God damn rents! And greedy mall of America corporations.

rongee said...

It's always sad to see an independent mom & pop type shop close, no matter the reason, but especially because of greedy landlords. That said, the owner of RR was not a very customer friendly kind of guy. I was in RR early one morning browsing through the albums. I tried to strike up a conversation with the owner, to no avail. Then I asked if it would be okay to take a few pictures of the shop for my personal "Old NYC Store" scrap book. He responded with a sharp "no" and pointed to a small sign on the back wall "No Pictures" it read. I left and walked down to W4thSt. to Bleecker Street Records, asked the same question, "sure, don't forget to get a shot of the cat" came the answer. I shot about 40 images inside and out, including several of the folks behind the front counter. We talked about the changing face of the West Village for about 20 minutes. I bought a few albums and went on my way. What a difference.

Besides Bleecker Street Records and House of Oldies, there is also Record Runner on Jones Street.

Walter said...

May I put in a plug for "Good Records" at 218 East 5th Street. (On the block I live, but I have absolutely no affiliation with them) One of the few remaining vinyl shops still in existence. Just for the record, being in my later 60s, I don't spend (can't afford to) money on records or CDs. Got 3 large hard-drives backing up my huge Jazz collection that I acquired over 50 years. Mostly MP3s, some are wav. format. Due to economic circumstances, I had to sell all my physical LPs and CDs a couple of years ago. A while ago you had a story about Manatus closing. Manatus at one point was the location of "Bboomers" (that's how it was spelled, like a B flat) one of the legendary Jazz Clubs in New York City.

laura rubin said...

its not "capitalist" its "corporatist"- small businesses are dissapearing all over the world. bleeker street is another entity these days.

petergunn said...

this place was terrible... sorry for anyone who has pleasant memories, but i'm a huge record buyer and never found anything there... yes, Good Records on 5th is a great store...

Art said...

I am curious what the math is for these high end stores. I rarely see anybody in them. They don't carry much selection. Who actually buys this stuff? How do they cover $42,000/mo?

Joey Blau said...

Is that a copy of "The Romeos" he is holding? Great album! I recently usbd all my 80s records to my iPod. Now I listen to it each week.

Cupcake1967 said...

Why not move to a cheaper location? I'm no real estate agent but aren't the rents cheaper in the east village?

Wilmer Mendez said...

Dear David....good evening and our respects. It is a sad to know your wonderful music store has closed. We would like to know to reach you in order to enjoy your always wonderful advice on music (CD...vinyl)...

Your friends,


Yuma and Wilmer

fettnyc1 said...

Dave said he might reopen if he finds the space in the Village. Let's hope he does and if anyone here's anything post it here!

ORLY81 said...

Well,why not move the store to another location!!?

Shuaiba Ahammed said...

Oh! That's a sad news. Sorry to hear it