Record stores have undergone a necessary transformation over the last decade, as the entire music industry has changed. At first, the CD revolution in the early 1990s disrupted the vinyl record segment (and buried cassette tapes). Vinyl became fringe, the refuge for punk and alt-rock bands looking to distinguish themselves from the standard issue, but the cost of manufacturing became prohibitive and extinction loomed.
In a way, the best things to happen to vinyl were the ascendance of the MP3 and new models (like Apple's iTunes) for buying music over the Internet. The backlash from audiophiles, purists, and people who really wanted to spend a lot of time with their music gave the classic vinyl new life. Record sales may never be what they once were—they may only represent a tiny fraction of those figures—but vinyl sales are actually growing. It's a niche, but it is a committed one.
So at least some of the few remaining record stores that held onto, you know, records, have built up loyal followings. And they’ve become great performance spaces for bands and artists.
“We've played all over the place—Chicago, WI; Knoxville, TN; Richmond, NC; NYC; DC; lots and lots of Philadelphia shows,” Chorba said. “Our favorite venue though is very close to home here in NJ. Funny thing is it's not really even a venue, certainly not a traditional one. One of my favorite places to play is a tiny record store in historic Bordentown. The place is called the Record Collector. The Successful Failures have played there about four times. We've had great shows. There's a real die-hard following who frequent this place; people who go there are there to listen to music. No food ... no bar. Just music.”
The Record Collector is a unique spot where you can either buy some tunes or just stop in to hear some played for you, and that’s why we’ve chosen it for this installment of Day Tripper, a weekly look at destinations that are out of town, but in reach, and worth the trip.
DAY TRIPPER DIGEST
Estimated Travel Time: 20 minutes
Why it’s Worth the Trip: Details Magazine cited the The Record Collector, on 358 Farnsworth Ave. in Bordentown, as its favorite independent record store of the Tri-State Area. It got an honorary mention in Spin Magazine online in an article listing best record stores in the US. The Record Collector offers a large selection of new and used vinyl (all sizes) and CDs, but no cassette tapes.
How to Get There From Here: Detailed driving directions.
You’ll Probably Get Hungry: If you’re hungry, hit the Farnsworth House, Marcello’s Restaurant, Jester’s Café, Toscano Ristorante, Oliver A Bistro, or Tsukasa Japanese. If you’re looking for a more affordable meal in a casual setting (and a large selection), hit Bordentown’s Mastoris Diner on Route 130. On Saturdays, you can also head farther south on 130 and visit the ).
While You’re in the Area: Farnsworth Avenue, adjacent to Rt. 130, has several stops of interest including the Firehouse Art Gallery and School, the Old Book Shop of Bordentown, Mozart Piano Company, Periwinkle Boutique and Consignment, and Shoppe 202 Antiques. Looking for a little roll with your rock? Directly on Route 130 is Papp’s Bowling Center.
The Record Collector also buys and trades items. It specializes in rare and one-of-a-kind LP's, but also carries memorabilia, music-related gear and hardware. And then, there is the live music venue.
"What I like about it is that everybody is real close," Chorba said. "It’s a record store and they’ll clear out the albums, so there are literally people right where my [guitar] pedals are, and at the base of my microphone. The people are really up close. It’s a smaller venue, so you can only get 50 to 75 people in there. It’s really packed, but it’s a good sized venue for us.”
“I’ve seen a lot of other artists there too,” Chorba continued. “I saw Evan Dando there [from The Lemonheads] and, I think a lot of artists do this, when he was done he stood behind the counter and people came up. If you wanted him to sign something, if you bought something, you could do that. The owners are cool like that, and they’re real friendly too. It’s like a family business.”
Chorba is realistic about the business of music scenes, those communities of musicians that sometimes form within a place (think '90s Seattle or indie-rock hub Brooklyn).
"The New Jersey music scene is what it has always been. You have to work hard to make something happen for yourself," he said.