Reviving the record store seemed like an impossible feat, but not for Brooklyn’s Rough Trade.
Since its 2013 opening, Rough Trade has managed to reimagine the role of music stores as social cornerstones by not only hosting regular events at the space, but by finding ways to turn those events into experiences.
As part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of “Empire Records,” Rough Trade will collaborate with BBQ Films for three screenings of the 1995 cult classic, running from Wednesday through Friday.
The store will be transformed into the eponymous cinematic institution, complete with all the expected trappings.
There will be a custom button stand, a head-shaving station, Rex Manning autographs and a chance to win prizes such as a “Warren shopping-spree.”
An appearance from GWAR, as well as performances from “Rex Manning Bands” and various DJs, will complete the “Empire Records” experience.
Plans for the event began when BBQ Films, which spealizes in immersive movie-watching experiences across the city, brought the idea to Rough Trade.
“We want to be on board with anything that celebrates record store culture,” Rough Trade manager George Flanagan told amNew York. “We didn’t really initially get a sense of how big of a reaction it would get, but it sounded fun and Bowery Presents, who manages the venue, agreed.”
It’s events like the “Empire Records” screenings that allow the store to thrive even with the restrictions posed by today’s digital music climate.
“Rough Trade in the UK was built on that record store culture, a place for people to hang out and talk about music and learn about new music,” Flanagan says. “That’s something the owners are exceptionally passionate about.”
With the store’s connected cafe, prolific number of turntables and innovative exhibits, Flanagan cites the key to why listeners connect with Rough Trade like the fictional customers did Empire Records two decades ago: “Making it a place people just want to be, if we re-create that, the rest kind of comes with it.”