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Record Store Review: The Crate (Wrecords by Monkey)

April 29, 2014

On Record Store Day 2014 a new store opened up in Bushwick called “The Crate.” The grand opening featured live music from local DJs, free beer, and several hundred people walking in and out of the store to see what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it there on RSD – seems I missed out on a really good time – but I was able to visit the very next day, the quiet Sunday after RSD, which allowed me to see everything the store had to offer and talk at length with store owner Monkey (real name Patrick Chirico and no relation to 2bitmonkey).

The Crate is unlike any other record store I’ve ever been to. For starters, every record in the store costs $1. Again: Every record in the store costs $1. If crate-digging on the cheap for a valuable score is your thing, this is the place for you. There’s no telling what you might find here. Naturally, most of the records available are what you’d expect to find for a dollar (especially for me after it had been picked through by the RSD hordes) but anything that’s brought in by customers and sold to the store will be flipped for a buck, so there’s a distinct possibility you can get lucky. There isn’t much else to say about the record selection – used and cheap is the whole game – but that’s OK, because selling vinyl isn’t really what The Crate is all about.

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Actually, that’s entirely inaccurate. Selling vinyl is the only thing that The Crate is about. It’s just that Monkey has little interest in selling you vinyl to spin on your turntable. Wrecords by Monkey has been around for about eight years as a design shop – they make jewelry, accessories and home products out of old vinyl records. The products are really stylish and unique and are what you will walk away telling your friends about. The classic item (to the extent you can use that word – let’s just say it’s the one that pays Monkey’s bills) are the bracelets and cuffs, while the most intriguing is the jewelry. Everything can be made on site from cheap records that haven’t sold, or you can bring in your own otherwise useless vinyl to repurpose. A large portion of the store is reserved for the on-site silkscreening as well as the DJ station. In time, Monkey expects to offer silkscreening classes, DJ classes, and pretty much whatever local vinyl enthusiasts clamor for. This isn’t your moldy old record store; this is an experience.

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Someone somewhere is going to feel bad that records are being torn apart to make bracelets and iPhone cases. As a vinyl fan, I understand that. But so does Monkey. He explained to me that the only records that are repurposed are ones that have been available for sale on the very cheap for a long period of time and haven’t sold. Vendors who sells at flea markets and the like sell what they can and then sell their garbage inventory to him at about 10 cents per record. He’ll sell it in the store for a dollar or turn it into something far more interesting. Everyone wins.

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It’s hard to say exactly what will become of The Crate. Monkey has a vision – he’s a designer first, a businessman second – but that vision is an aesthetic one, not a commercial one. The Crate will likely evolve organically based on what the people want. Monkey’s job is to make it hip, and you can tell from day 1 (or in my case, day 2) that he will succeed in that regard. When all is said and done he’s just a cool dude with a flair for making great stuff out of old records. What could be better than that?

Bottom line: The Crate is completely unique among record stores. $1 records are fun to flip through, but they’re just the teaser to bring you in. The other products are what it’s all about. Should be a very cool place to visit for live music events and classes, and a great place to pick up a gift for the vinyl enthusiast who has everything.


TheCrate (1)Quick stats:

  • Sells used, new, or both: Used
  • Genres: Various
  • Non-vinyl for sale: Jewelry, accessories and home products all made out of old vinyl records. (In this case it’s not actually non-vinyl; it’s all vinyl.)
  • Record selection: 2 out of 10
  • Price: 10 out of 10 (all records $1)
  • Atmosphere: 10 out of 10
  • Ease of browsing/shopping: 8 out of 10
  • Used vinyl condition: 5 out of 10
  • Yelp rating: N/A (Wrecords by Monkey gets 4.5 stars on Yelp)

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