In crushing news for music lovers, Rough Trade NYC will close its Williamsburg location in the spring and will relocate to another, yet-to-be announced city location in the summer. Since its opening in 2013, the sprawling record store and its connected concert venue had been a mecca for thousands of music fans, but apparently the pandemic made its large location too financially challenging to maintain.
During the intervening months, Rough Trade’s online record store, www.roughtrade.com, will continue to serve patrons with its emphasis on pre-orders, weekly new releases, exclusive editions and sale back catalogue.
The current NYC store – a 10,000 square foot ex-warehouse building located between Kent and Wythe on North 9th Street – was converted by Rough Trade using over a dozen shipping containers, creating a giant record store with intimate venue space, opening late 2013 in response to the growing deficit of record stores in the city.
With the store relocation, Rough Trade NYC’s concert venue, operated in partnership with The Bowery Presents, will not re-open in its current location. As a concert venue, Rough Trade NYC opened with two nights of the band Television in 2013 and has since produced hundreds of events annually. The venue hosted the likes of major artists, including Green Day, Gorillaz, Leon Bridges, The Raconteurs, Tegan and Sara, TV On The Radio, and Wilco, though the 250-capacity space primarily served as a foundation for artist development in New York City. Halsey, SZA, Khruangbin, Car Seat Headrest, Margo Price and others all performed at Rough Trade NYC.
“Our much-loved Williamsburg store has done us proud in helping establish Rough Trade as a New York-worthy music retail and gig destination, serving the city’s music lovers and the wider music artist community with expertise, creativity and passion,” says Stephen Godfroy, Rough Trade co-owner.
“Not only has it helped put us (Rough Trade, originally founded in London back in 1976) on the map here in New York, it’s also proven the relevancy and importance of record shops to a whole new generation of music fan – showing that alongside the merits of streaming, there’s also a time and place for hanging out in an inspiring space that celebrates past, present and emerging music culture, one that offers a kaleidoscopic array of recordings to cherish and own, a place to meet other curious minds that helps establish a life-affirming sense of belonging, community and friendship.
The timing of the decision to relocate during a pandemic is no coincidence, as Godfroy explains, “As with many businesses right now, the impact of the pandemic has made us rethink our approach, giving us the opportunity to reconsider how best to serve the rapidly increasing number of vinyl lovers in New York – that in spite of the adverse conditions surrounding the pandemic, demand for vinyl is positively booming. As with so many other retail sectors, sales are diverting online, along with the power and reach of online communities, all of which gives us inspiration to become more and not less accessible, to creatively reassess the junction between online and offline interaction. Regretfully, in order for us to freely respond to these new opportunities, we shall have to bid a heartfelt and fond farewell to our beloved, inaugural US, Williamsburg premises.”
“Having the confidence to relocate and reimagine would not be possible if it weren’t for the warm embrace New York has given us, a city where a love for music inspiringly brings people together and breaks down cultural divides. On behalf of everyone at Rough Trade and The Bowery Presents, we humbly extend our immense and sincere gratitude to all our music loving patrons. Rest assured, Rough Trade will retain its presence in New York – we look forward to sharing details of our exciting new plans in coming months. In the meantime, we look forward to welcoming first time and returning customers to our Williamsburg store, along with all of those enjoying the convenience of shopping at Rough Trade dotcom.”
As result of the COVID-19 pandemic, all scheduled and future concerts currently scheduled at Rough Trade NYC have been cancelled. Ticketholders will receive an automatic refund from AXS, there is no action required if you purchased your tickets online or by phone. The Rough Trade NYC Box Office will be open on select days to process any refunds for past purchases made in-person at the box office – stay tuned to Rough Trade NYC and The Bowery Presents social outlets for updates.
With the evergreen aim to best serve the music lovers of New York, Rough Trade is inviting New Yorker’s to share their memories, wishes, thoughts and feedback with regards to their relationship with music and music services in the city. Entitled ‘New York Loves Music’, the online questionnaire can be found at www.roughtrade.com/nycmusic. The findings from which will be published online by Rough Trade later in the year, along with further news on NYC store relocation plans.
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