Other NJ News

On the Hunt for Records—and Some Magic—in New Brunswick

1a8ffe971abf07890c08_IMG_20170913_155249.jpg
Andrew Spina Credits: Jack Murtha
d5c72937c4f3fdace7b6_IMG_20170913_155546.jpg
Credits: Jack Murtha
1a8ffe971abf07890c08_IMG_20170913_155249.jpg

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The interior of Spina Records looks like it could pass for a very over-the-top friend's basement music collection.

Boxes of records fill the room, and more recognizable album covers—from acts like Metallica, The Smiths and Prince—line the walls. Antiques and novelty items, like a ceramic dog and a pair of antlers, fill whatever space is left. And the music doesn't stop playing.

But this subterranean storefront, 25 Easton Ave., is no mere hangout. It represents years of dedicated work by owner Andrew Spina, who opened his namesake shop about three years ago. At Spina Records, he sells the fruits of his ongoing treasure-hunting—but instead of gold, it's all about gold records.

Sign Up for E-News

“I know what it's like to get turned on to new music that really affects you,” he said. “It's great to help people looking for suggestions. They come in, and they're listening to music, discovering it, sharing it. It's all positive.”

New Brunswick was once the go-to place for music lovers. The Hub City was home to any number of record stores—from Cheap Thrills and Music in a Different Kitchen to Planet X Music and All Ears Records.

Those days are gone. And they have been for quite some time.

So when Spina Records launched in 2014, it became the first in this city in more than a decade, he said.

The painting on the bottom right depicts a French Street diner that used to house a record store whose owner went to prison on drug charges. Spina bought the piece of art from a customer.

Music had gone digital—and many listeners had turned their backs on CDs, never mind vinyl. But even as records gave way to cassettes, which yielded to CDs, which surrendered to illegal mp3 downloads and eventually legal streaming, a squadron of hardened record collectors lurked and, by all accounts, grew.

After graduating from Rutgers University in 2008, Spina went to work for a now-closed antique shop on George Street. As the business slowed down, its record sales seemed to only pick up, he said.

“That was my proof of concept,” he added.

It was dead-on. Now in his own endeavor, Spina said, he's making enough money to stay in business, and then some. If he had to guess, 75 percent of his sales come from the brick-and-mortar shop, with the rest occurring online.

He has more than 5,000 records on the auction block. Many sit on the sales floor, waiting for that Rutgers or New Brunswick High School student to grab it and fall in love. The rest are tucked away in a back room and a stuffed storage unit, Spina said.

Spina Records sells a bit of everything. Last week, just before the death of singer-songwriter-drummer Grant Hart, a copy of Hüsker Dü's “New Day Rising” hung behind the counter—a preemptive, unintentional homage to Hart and his groundbreaking band. Nearby, records by The Notorious B.I.G., Miles Davis, Velvet Revolver and other groups brightened the walls. Spina even displayed a copy of the soundtrack to a “Star Wars” movie.

His biggest sellers, however, are albums by rock bands from the '60s and '70s.

“A lot of that music holds up really well,” Spina said, noting that Stevie Wonder, Madonna, The Beatles and Nirvana prove particularly popular.

When he can, he stocks the shelves with New Brunswick bands, Spina said. Just last week, for instance, the Screaming Females released a new 7-inch in just one store—you guessed it: Spina Records.

That connection to the local scene might one day help boost both the bands and the store. But the very existence of Spina Records, he said, revives a sorely-missed part of New Brunswick's history.

He said he enjoys reuniting middle-aged fans with records they haven't heard since they were 18. An in-store listening station, meanwhile, connects younger fans to new music.

Yet there's one record Spina won't sell: his copy of The Beatles' “Magical Mystery Tour.” Why? He bought it when he was just a kid, in 1997, in Ocean City. It was his first. A record store owner, of all people, better see the magic in that.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

'Tired of cronyism? Yeah, us too'

July 21, 2018

The Union County Freeholders’ decision to appoint State Senator and newly-elected Union County Democratic Chairman, Nick Scutari’s chief of staff, Ed Oatman as County Manager smelled of corruption from the start. To place a political consultant like Oatman in the role of overseeing 2,800 employees and running the day-to-day operations of the $500 million county budget suggests ...

TAPinto Spotlight on Business Features New Providence Dentistry

July 17, 2018

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - TAPinto "Summer Spotlight on Business" features local businesses and their owners who are important to our communities. Follow this column to receive a fresh perspective on small business owners and their unique needs while shining a spotlight on their stories.

This edition features New Providence Dentistry, operated by Dr. Beth Herko and her staff of ...

Avoiding 10% Tax Penalty

Do you want access to money from your retirement accounts but aren't sure of the real costs involved?

Most retirement accounts have a set age requirement you must reach before making penalty-free income distributions, which is usually 59.5 but can sometimes be as early as age 50. If you decide to access your accounts earlier, you could face penalties ranging from 10%-25%, which is not ...

Caring Contact Volunteer Listener Training

July 21, 2018

Caring Contact Volunteer Listener Training Fall 2018

Are you looking for a flexible, rewarding volunteer opportunity?

Have you ever been told you are a good listener?

Do you have a yearning to really make a difference?

Become a Caring and Crisis Hotline Listener.

You could save a life.

Volunteers receive 52 hours of comprehensive training in active listening, Mental Health ...

Shakespeare in the Park Returns to Union County Sunday, July 22

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce the return of Shakespeare in the Park this weekend. The performance will be presented on Sunday, July 22 at 12:30 p.m. at Cedar Brook Park in Plainfield.

The Shrew Mechanicals Troupe from The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will present an hour long performance of “Shakespeare Gumbo,” a stirring collection of ...

Enjoy a Lifetime of Discovery in Union County Parks

July is National Parks and Recreation Month, and Union County residents are invited to celebrate this year by exploring “undiscovered” programs and activities found throughout the nearly 6,200 acres of the Union County parks system.

“Union County was one of the very first counties in the United States to establish its own county-based park system for nature conservation and ...

Union County Honored for History Projects

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that two national achievement recognitions for history projects have been presented to the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, a division of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“Union County is rich in history, and this Freeholder Board is committed to engaging the public with ...

Geoffrey the Giraffe Moves In To New Brunswick Children's Hospital

July 12, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over a stretch of nearly 70 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us stores was the symbol of happy times for generations of children, and now he may provide those same feelings for children coming to a hospital.

"From this day forward, Geoffrey stands tall in our lobby to encourage our smallest patients to smile when they enter our facilities," said John ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_c8cb6b45d2b342be3cbb_nancy_ori

Sat, July 21, 10:30 AM

New Providence Memorial Library, New Providence

Cuba: Observations of a Photographer

Arts & Entertainment Travel

Sat, July 21, 10:30 AM

New Providence Memorial Library, New Providence

Cuba: Observations of a Photographer at NPML

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, July 22, 2:00 PM

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Moths and other Pollinators

Education Green

Carousel_image_634bcda860ed17650f72_93a8625c-ce9d-413f-a61e-4b2df4fe0604

Tue, July 24, 3:00 PM

Grillestone Restaurant , Scotch Plains

Hear the Story of Amelia Earhart, America's Most ...

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Carousel_image_e6c7d5b8a558926ee4c5_8e2f7c3f3d7547130a87_swim_team_2

Tue, July 24, 5:30 PM

Summit YMCA, Summit

Summit Area YMCA Swim Team Tryouts July 24th

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_e6c7d5b8a558926ee4c5_8e2f7c3f3d7547130a87_swim_team_2

Tue, July 24, 5:30 PM

Summit YMCA, Summit

Summit Area YMCA Swim Team Tryouts July 24th

Health & Wellness

Special June Episode of 'Berkeley Heights Here & Now' Features 6th Annual Street Fair

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The Berkeley Heights Communications Committee (BHCC) today announced a special edition of Berkeley Heights Here & Now is available on the Township website, www.berkeleyheightstwpnj.gov.

 

The special episode features the 6th Annual Berkeley Heights Street Fair held on June 24 and includes onsite interviews with attending residents/visitors, event ...

And Over Here is the Dining Hall 2

My very first job in admissions was while I was still an undergraduate myself as a tour guide.  Very early on they indoctrinated us with some tricks of the trade.  It’s a dining hall, not a cafeteria.  A residence hall, not a dorm.  If you have to divulge some negative bit of information, sandwich it between two positives.  There were instructions for glossing over ...

Women Have Special Financial Needs That Advisors Overlook

Women have special financial needs that advisors overlook in two ways: 1) advisors don’t always acknowledge the different planning needs women have and 2) advisors don’t always communicate well with female clients – especially if the client comes to a meeting with her husband. It’s very common for a male advisor to spend much or most of the face time in meetings talking to ...

5 Simple Ways to Save Water this Summer

According to the L.A. Times, the average American uses an estimated 98 gallons of water EACH day.  

Here are five simple ways you can save water, to help you conserve water this summer and take some pressure off of your drains.

1. Unless you are using it, turn the faucet off. How many of us still leave the water running while we shave or brush our teeth?According to ...