SDE New York diary: Day two

SDE Editor, Paul Sinclair, is in New York during Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Record Store Day. He’ll be checking out the best of what record stores are left in Manhattan, heading over to Brooklyn for more vinyl and CD exploration and talking to shop owners, and record buyers. Read about his adventures for the next few days in these exclusive diary posts…


Day 2 / Thursday 26 November

Yesterday was another beautiful day in The City That Never Sleeps, although walking around it did seem rather ‘sleepy’ because everything was shut due to Thanksgiving!

I always knew today was going to be more about getting a feel for the geography of The Village and establishing exactly where all the record shops were (thanks for all the messages and recommendations) even if they weren’t actually open. So after a better-than-expected ‘continental ‘ breakfast at the hotel, I headed out.

While it wasn’t exactly like The Omega Man (so much better than the I Am Legend remake) it was slightly disconcerting just how bereft of activity The Village actually was.

IMAG3659First port of call was The Record Runner on Jones Street, and as expected shutters were down and no one was at home.

Bleecker Street Records around the corner was not open either, although I peered through the metal grates and noticed that they have a ‘brand new’ vintage GE 8-track cartridge player, complete with box and 30 Beatles and solo Beatles cartridges (Sgt. Pepper, RAM etc.) for sale for $350. Pretty cool, although I wouldn’t pay that for it. Do I need it? No. Was I interested? Yes!


I headed up to the north part of Bleecker Street and was surprised to see how many luxury brands had moved in. Jo Malone, Burberry, Mulberry etc. This very much echoes London’s Carnaby Street which used to be a bit seedy but full of interesting and quirky shops (and interesting and quirky people!), and is now full of designer brands.

Luxury brands at the top end of Bleecker St

I eventually got to Rebel Rebel which I had heard so many good things about. It looked satisfyingly chaotic inside, although I was a bit surprised to see Adele’s new album in the window. I suppose you can’t blame them for milking that particular cash cow.


In fact Adele was everywhere. It seems no record shop is too trendy, too specialist or too independent to ignore 25. Other Music on East 4th Street joined in the fun.


I headed uptown and got slightly caught up in all the activity around the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I couldn’t see a damn thing, so skidaddled out of there for an early lunch.

Later on, heading back downtown I saw the first example of Black Friday ‘frenzy’ with people queuing/camping outside Best Buy in Union Square. They were opening at 5pm in the evening. I knew this because they’d had a professional sign made, declaring as such.

I had the pleasure of meeting up with NY resident and SDE reader Greg in the early evening. It was great to have some company and after a quick hot chocolate at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Bleecker street, we headed up to Sony Plaza on Madison avenue for ‘the best pizza in the city’. It was fantastic for me to meet and connect with someone who lives so far from England, but shares a passion for music and enjoys reading this blog.

With SDE reader Greg in Sony Plaza

Walking back through the city, that Best Buy mentioned earlier was now open and all the queues had disappeared. I was determined to buy some music so popped in to see what was doing. They had the limited edition Pipes of Peace and Tug of War sets with the exclusive ‘tote bags’ but try as I might, I couldn’t convince myself to spend $52 to get two bags.


The store’s policy on Adele’s 25 made everyone else look very restrained.


After a long day I retired back to the hotel. A flick through the channels revealed that AMC were showing The Godfather Part II but I was never going to stay awake for that. Instead I watched a bit of the US version of BBC TV’s Dragons’ Den, which is called Shark Tank. Ironically, it lacked the bite of the UK programme.

Check back tomorrow for day three of my New York diary.


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[…] promo 12-inch of Thomas Dolby‘s Dolby’s Cube (to go with my Hot Sauce 12-inch bought on Day Two) and a vinyl copy of Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence. Co-owner Brian did me a deal – $5 for the […]

Steve Marine

“I was determined to buy some music…” I love this sentence from your article. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt that and it’s always so pleasing to know when someone feels the same as you. (Particularly when it’s about music. LOL!)

[…] Yesterday was something of a dress rehearsal, but today was fantastic because New York ‘woke up’ after the Thanksgiving holiday and everything was open! An SDE reader (thanks Mark) had pointed out that there was a good record shop literally two minutes around the corner from my hotel in The Village and it was great that he did because I could easily have missed Disc-O-rama. For a start, the signage only works if you’re a giraffe, it’s far too high up with a big blank space below, and the window ‘display’ doesn’t scream ‘record shop’ with its references to Ticketmaster and the Lottery etc. Admittedly there is mention of DVDs and CDs, but it looks a bit like a newsagent from a distance. […]

Eric M.

Well, if you ever get to Georgia, gotta check out Wax N’ Facts and Criminal Records at Little 5 Points… Done some truly satisfying crate-digging there, Paul! Happy travels!

Paul Edwards

Interesting reference to ‘any town USA’ – sadly all cities are going the same way!
As a kid a trip to London was amazing, a day with a mate on the tube flying round Camden (remember when prince had his own shop?!) and soho looking for bargains and releases you’d never see elsewhere.
I remember finding a signed Duran album in a backstreet shop for £4. The owner was so spaced he didn’t know what it was!
It was also special as it was the only place you’d find a big HMV, now every city is generic, it’s really sad, and all the interesting stuff is online.

Tony Brescia

Hi Paul, Hope you’re enjoying your stay in NYC. As someone who grew up in NYC and still works in NYC, the change in “The Village” that has taken place brings tears to my eyes. I used to spend hours walking around “The Village” going to all the different record and music stores. It was wonderful to just spend hours in the stores looking at everything and meeting and talking to other people who shared my passion for music. Don’t get me wrong, I still love NYC, but the city is losing its special appeal. The best thing about NYC was always the one of a kind shops that could only be found there. Nowdays, NYC is starting to look like “Anytown USA”. All of the chain stores make NYC look like every other USA town. Thankfully, you can still find great unique restaurants in NYC. If you like Italian food, I recommend Forlini’s on Baxter street in downtown Manhattan. They have been around for generations and still serve great food. If you’d like to try New York style Chinese food, I recommend Hop Kee on Mott Street in downtown Manhattan. Yes, the restaurant is located in the basement down a flight of stairs. Great food and large portions at a decent price. Enjoy the rest of your stay and keep up the good work. SDE is the first website I look at every day. Even if I don’t care for a particular artist that you’re highlighting, I love your enthusiasm. It’s wonderful to see someone else who shares my passion for music in a physical form. Enjoy and have a safe flight back. Tony

Christopher Straub

Tony – I agree with you 100%

Simon F

Your comments on NYC echo exactly what is happening/has happened in London over the last few years. My once regular record shopping trips to the Smoke have almost finished due to so many of the once great shops vanishing to be replaced with quite frankly nothing.
Now there is only the original Rough Trade shop, Rough Trade East, the much shrunken Sister Ray and equally shrunken HMV. Remember Hanway Street (running behind what used to be the Virgin Megastore on the corner of Oxford St. and Tottenham Ct. Road, with so many truely great shops full of the most extraordinary releases, second hand gems, memorabilia and bootlegs? Now all gone. And this ‘they’ call progress. Sad, sad, sad.


hi paul are there any good value u.s record shops that have websites you could recommend

Penny Jackson

Hey Paul
Loving your diary. Much more than dad’s ventures. Enjoy yourself and be safe.
Love Pen


Well not literally share…I meant share a list and pictures of New York record store goodies.


Hahaha you know it makes sense…well compared to Amazon uk £12.99 and that’s without postage included and minus the tote bag getting those 2 albums at Best Buy to get the tote bags works out at about £4.29 per tote bag on top of the Amazon uk prices…me thinks pretty good…you thinks yes too and eventually buy them…anyhow whatever you decide enjoy the rest of your time there and when you get back share with us all the goodies you picked up.

Michael Jorgensen


Love your website and very jealous of your trip to NYC. My wife and I have been there twice and we will be back many more time in this life! I have only managed to visit Bleeker Street Records (in 2010, when they were still on Bleeker). I am now taking note of stores to visit blog for next time.

If you are looking for a great dinner spot, Babbo (near Washington Square) is awesome. We managed to get a table without a reservation.



Though that one i just mentioned isn’t tug of war or pipes of peace there are one of each being sold on there from Dakota and come out at about £16 each with postage to the uk…also some being sold with the CDs…with what I saw in your pictures of the Best Buy store ones with the CDs and tote bag uk conversation is £17.28 each…if that was me I would have snapped them up…not sure about custom charges as you bring them back through…personally I’d take the price stickers off just in case…airports try anything to get some money out of you.


Hi Paul…Great to hear about your adventures in New York…you mentioned the Paul McCartney tote bag well just seen one on eBay for £4.99 including postage from the uk.