Rough Trade’s New York record store has revealed that their new location is at the Rockefeller Center. Their original shop in the city opened in 2013 in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn and became particularly beloved after that.
It was a dog-friendly record store that had a coffee counter and also served as a music venue with a small balcony section. There were frequent events there like celebrities signing records, bands playing lunchtime shows and Record Store Day promotions, among other occasions.
The move to 30 Rockefeller Plaza will put the shop in a much more high-traffic location, right outside NBC Studios’ Radio City Music Hall and surrounded by other famous stores like The NBC Store and The LEGO Store. Instead of being a neighborhood-friendly store, it will likely become a tourist attraction.
Additionally, it will be a significantly smaller shop at “just under a quarter of the size of Rough Trade’s old Williamsburg location.” The site was reportedly a shoe store before Rough Trade took it over. The loss of space will also make it unsuitable to be a music venue. However, Rough Trade will still hold some concerts on the 65th floor of the skyscraper and other locations available to 30 Rockefeller Plaza inhabitants. The atmosphere will likely change accordingly, but the shows will keep on going.
The record store explains that the new location will “be part of the programming at Rockefeller Center, and its Midtown gigs will be held on the building’s 65th floor in the ritzy Rainbow Room, and at surrounding spaces such as the plaza and, in summertime, the ice skating rink.” They also said they’d still be hosting plenty of artist signing events.
Rough Trade Co-Owner Stephen Godfroy states, “Following the impact of COVID-19, Rough Trade’s decision to relocate reflects a wider reimagination of cities worldwide. Manhattan has a glorious history of great record stores. Now there’s an exciting present as well. The opportunities afforded by the pandemic in the reconfiguration of central city districts have brought us, counter-intuitively, to the heart of New York, an area barren of record stores for years. But Rough Trade’s instinct has always been to surprise!”
While the label behind the shop is known for hip new indie bands like Parquet Courts, Pinegrove, Girl Band and Black Midi that are more closely-associated with the inhabitants of a place like Williamsburg than central Manhattan, the record store has always been more broadly focused on new and limited edition vinyl as a whole. The move may trade community for commerciality, but the new levels of foot-traffic will surely bring in even more music fans and tourists alike.