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Record Store Review: Second Hand Rose’s Music

January 24, 2013

Second Hand Rose Music is one of the first used vinyl shops I ever walked into.  In fact, I popped in just about a week before actually purchasing my first turntable, so this was more of a scouting trip than a buying one I suppose.  That’s what happens when you wander around Union Square and don’t have a clue as to what you should be looking for.  When I walked in, I thought to myself “now this is what a vintage record shop should look like.”  Records were packed on the shelves all the way up to the ceiling, crates filled with records were randomly strewn about the back of the store and up the stairs (which lead to nowhere), the shop was cramped, dingy and an overall mess.  I thought I was in heaven.

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Well if this is heaven, I don’t want to see hell.  I’ve been back there a few times since the scouting trip, in the vain hopes that my impressions are misinformed, and each time I’m more turned off than the time before.  First off, remember Crazy Eddie? The prices are INSANE!  Sadly, in this case that’s a bad thing.  (I suppose that there it was too.[1]) Whether you’re looking at the best of the bunch, which are $15-25 records priced here between $40 -$100, or “dollar-bin” records, which here go for $5-10, whoever prices the records in this store is more guilty of fraud than Crazy Eddie ever was.

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Next, the aforementioned mess.  I have no idea how one is supposed to browse this store.  There are tons of records here – it’s probably a gold mine of inventory – but good luck browsing through it all. The records are packed into shelves, which make them impossible to flip through.  They are sorted alphabetically but within genres which are not in all cases clearly identified.  The store is very tight, so even if you are blessed with infinite patience you may not succeed in finding what you want, even if it’s somewhere on those shelves.  Finally, there is the “staff”, which is presumably the owner and his family (I’ve never seen anyone other than the same three people there) and who seem to have no interest in selling anything.  The customer consensus on Yelp seems to be that words like bitter, grumpy and rude best describe this group.  My experience supports that conclusion.

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The only area that seems to be organized and well-maintained is the very front, which consists of the most-popular artists (Beatles, Stones, etc.) and then a rack of the “top 200 albums of all time.”  This area is easy to browse … and would give any novice collector the false impression that the minimum price for any half-decent album is $40. Did I mention that the prices are insane?

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Bottom line:   Every once in a while I like to feel like a moron.  Shopping here fulfills my periodic quota.  I can walk out feeling worthless, and if I ever buy anything (I haven’t yet in any of my visits) I can feel like a sucker too.  I’ve been to about 15-20 record stores now and this one is the worst.  Despite the fact that they might have what you’re looking for, please don’t waste your time.

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Quick stats:

  • Sells used, new, or both: Used
  • Genres: Rock, Classical, Folk, Country, Funk/R&B
  • Non-vinyl for sale: Used CDs (about 20% of the store)
  • Selection: 8 out of 10
  • Price: 1 out of 10
  • Atmosphere: 2 out of 10
  • Ease of browsing/shopping: 2 out of 10
  • Used vinyl condition: 3 out of 10
  • Yelp rating: 2.5 stars

[1] No idea what I’m talking about? Read here.

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