Brooklyn Record Exchange by Co-Op 87, indie label Mexican Summer opens in Bushwick

Ben Steidel, co-owner of Brooklyn Record Exchange on Johnson Avenue in Bushwick on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

The new shop is located on the second floor of Bushwick’s music hall Elsewhere.

Ben Steidel, co-owner of Brooklyn Record Exchange on Johnson Avenue in Bushwick on Tuesday.
Ben Steidel, co-owner of Brooklyn Record Exchange on Johnson Avenue in Bushwick on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Jefferson Siegel

Surrounded by piles of boxes and stacks of vinyl records, Co-Op 87 Records & Tapes co-owner Ben Steidel was busy setting up his new Bushwick shop, Brooklyn Record Exchange on Tuesday.

He and his manager, Nate Stark, were feverishly working to make sure the store is ready for customers in time for its Saturday opening.

"We have been buying records for this store for four years now," he told amNewYork. "We’re opening boxes and we are discovering records we totally forgot about and can’t remember where we bought them from."

The shop is a partnership between Co-Op 87 and indie label Mexican Summer, which produces albums by Jessica Pratt, Ariel Pink, Connan Mockasin, Cate Le Bon, Drugdealer, Dungen and others. Co-Op 87 has been a seven-year tenant of the label’s building at 87 Guernsey St. in Greenpoint, which is currently being renovated but will continue to showcase vinyl finds.

Brooklyn Record Exchange opens Saturday on Johnson Avenue in Bushwick on the second floor of the Elsewhere building.
Brooklyn Record Exchange opens Saturday on Johnson Avenue in Bushwick on the second floor of the Elsewhere building. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

The new shop, which is located on the second floor of Bushwick’s music hall Elsewhere, will offer way more space to show off records, which are about 90 percent used and include a "solid collection" of genres like disco, post-punk, new wave, a large collection of jazz, rock and soul, as well as a wall of records for DJs, soundtracks and a "healthy chunk" of 45s.

"We want to cater not to just a specific clientele — we didn’t want it to be just for ‘serious’ collectors or DJs, we wanted everyone to feel comfortable," Steidel said. "We will have a little something for everyone. ‘Brooklyn Record Exchange’ sounds like a record store that could’ve been around for 20 years."

Co-owner Mike Hunchback, who is a film buff, is curating a wall of VHS tapes, DVDs and other visual media, as well. Mexican Summer’s music anthology books will be sold, too. 

When customers enter, they’ll see two turntables and a mixer immediately ahead of them, which will spin tunes DJed by whoever is running the shop and the occasional guest DJ.

When looking for the right spot, it was clear Elsewhere’s building would be the perfect fit, Steidel said. The former furniture warehouse is located in a neighborhood popular with young adults and it’s already inhabited by a music-centric business.

"It’s an exciting building to be in," he said. 

Steidel has been collecting vinyl since his youth in San Fransisco — his first records as a boy were by Weird Al and the first adult record was a Depeche Mode 12-inch single from a thrift store.

Nate Stark, the manager of Brooklyn Record Exchange, was unwrapping and sorting through vinyl on Tuesday.
Nate Stark, the manager of Brooklyn Record Exchange, was unwrapping and sorting through vinyl on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

"I’m a collector at heart," he said. "There’s a lot more interaction with records rather than baseball cards. I DJ, too. It’s just more fun to play with vinyl."

Steidel says vinyl is caught in a "hype cycle," but marketing initiatives like Record Store Day are helping to turn casual shoppers into vinyl collectors.  

"Once that gets their foot in the door, they start going for used records … and that’s what it’s all about," he said. "It’s very hard to run a record store selling new. Other Music [which was on East Fourth Street in Manhattan from 1995 to 2006] did a great job of that, but still, it’s gone. We love stocking new releases … but the used records is really what we’re excited about and what will be the bulk of what we have." 

The official opening of Brooklyn Record Exchange (599 Johnson Ave.) is Saturday. Its hours are Sunday through Thursday, from noon to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, from noon to 9 p.m.

Shaye Weaver