HOBOKEN, NJ - Since November 1995, Tunes has been cranking out the music on Hoboken's main drag, and picking up crowds of loyal fans along the way. From relatively humble beginnings at 315 Washington Street, the shop moved a block south in 1999—purchasing the building that holds its current 1,800-square-foot location at 225 Washington Street. Now celebrating 25 years of business, Tunes continues to buck industry trends and stay very much in the record store game.

"I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and I’ve never, ever not wanted to go to work," said owner Chip Heuisler. "I really, truly love what I do and consider myself incredibly lucky to make my living this way.”

Owning the storefront clearly saved the brick-and-mortar retailer from the crushing weight of soaring commercial rents. That, combined with sweeping changes to the music entertainment industry, have made the road rocky for a lot of Tunes' colleagues in the business.

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We spoke with Heuisler to learn more about how he has manged to keep playing his Tunes after all these years...

TAPinto Hoboken: Given the seemingly constant upheaval in the music industry, how has Tunes evolved to meet the ongoing challenges on the retail end?

Chip Heuisler: It is true that the music industry has gone through many changes since we opened our doors in 1995. As a retailer you have no choice but to evolve with those changes. For Tunes that meant being early adopters of selling online through marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Discogs as well as our own e-commerce website. More recently the changes have revolved around the resurgence of vinyl. While we still stock and sell CDs and DVDs, Vinyl now accounts for a clear majority of in-store sales. We continue to expand both or new and used LP sections as well as our stock of turntables to meet this growing customer demand.
TAPinto: How has Hoboken helped nurture Tunes over the past 25 years?
CH: The mile square city has just felt right from the moment I first walked up and down Washington Street looking for a storefront. It was only a few months after opening that Maxwell's approached us to carry tickets for their shows. To have the legendary music venue put its faith in us at that early stage was a great gesture and a great boost. The city of Hoboken and its residents have always shown tremendous support for small independent businesses like Tunes. I am proud to be part of that group, and I am always thankful for that support. 
TAPinto: In addition to the obvious struggles for retailers across the board, what impact do you see COVID having on the once-vibrant Hudson County music scene?

CH: It is hard to imagine what has happened to the live music scene since March of this year. Sadly, I know that some venues will permanently close their doors. I think it is going to take time before people are ready to go back to certain live music environments. Artists and venues have been creative, hosting virtual performances or finding ways to host small, socially-distanced events. I know it will not be easy, but hopefully 2021 brings expanding opportunity for the local and national music scenes.
TAPinto: If you could pick a song/artist/album that best represents your 25-year run at Tunes, what's your selection and why?

CH: Wow, that is a tough one! I'm going to go with Bob Marley - Trenchtown Rock.
'One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain. So hit me with music, hit me with music now.'

For music fans looking to shop local this holiday season, Tunes will be open at 9:00 a.m. on Black Friday, November 27 for Record Store Day.

Stop by and see Chip.


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