In one of the more surreal developments the music world has seen in a year filled with them, Rough Trade NYC, the sprawling record store that closed down its location in trendy Williamsburg shortly after the pandemic hit last year, will be opening in a new location on June 1 — in the iconic 30 Rock building in Midtown Manhattan, the longtime home of NBC, just steps from Radio City Music Hall.
“Following the impact of COVID-19, Rough Trade’s decision to relocate reflects a wider reimagination of cities worldwide,” says Rough Trade co-owner Stephen Godfroy in a post on the store’s website. “Manhattan has a glorious history of great record stores. Now there’s an exciting present as well. The opportunities afforded by the pandemic in the reconfiguration of central city districts have brought us, counter-intuitively, to the heart of New York, an area barren of record stores for years. But Rough Trade’s instinct has always been to surprise!”
It is indeed that. The sprawling Williamsburg location featured racks of vinyl and CDs, an upstairs book store and a 250-capacity concert venue in the back. While it will have to downsize significantly for its new, 2,100-square-foot location, the new store will also have live performances — at the stately Rainbow Room as well as Rockefeller Plaza, where performances for the “Today” show were often staged.
The move is all the more surreal because the iconic original Rough Trade store in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood, from which the equally iconic label emerged, was an incubator of punk rock in th 1970s and has retained its status as a champion for underground music. (If this announcement had been made on April Fool’s Day, the independent music community would have been ROFL.) The store announced that it was relocating from the Williamsburg location in January.
“We loved our amazing Williamsburg store, but thousands of gigs and vinyl sales later, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to move over to Manhattan, downsizing on scale but upsizing on ambition and reach,” the post continues. “The new store will be typical Rough Trade, focusing on new and limited edition vinyl, with our staff on hand to share their passion for music. Despite having a smaller footprint compared to our giant Williamsburg store, the amount of vinyl to browse in our new store will be similar, so Rough Trade NYC will continue to offer what we strive to make the finest curated selection of vinyl in the city.
“When it comes to events, we’ll be hosting more ‘artist signing’ events than you can shake a stick at, and in addition, we’re super excited at becoming Rockefeller Center’s latest programming partner, staging live events at the iconic (65th floor!) Rainbow Room and outdoors in the world-famous Plaza, showcasing exciting new talent as well as more familiar legends, in what are two remarkable locations,” it continues, concluding: “PS – yes, this means we’ll be open for Record Store Day.”
See the New York Times for a thorough report on the move.