Other NJ News

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

Andrew Spina Credits: Jack Murtha
Credits: Jack Murtha

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 Like

Sign Up for E-News

SOMA

Village Coffee Sign Tweaks Starbucks, Clarus Twitter Trails, and School Shuffles

When Starbucks coffee opened in the new Clarus development complex at the former Maplewod Village post office site, some wondered what effect it might have on Village Coffee, the longtime java spot just down the street.

Village Coffee owner Ketan Patel sees no big impact as of yet and a visit to the shop finds the same customer traffic as usual.

One addition, however, is a sign posted at ...

Marshall School Recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month

October 18, 2017

It is Hispanic Heritage Month and at Marshall Elementary School Mr. Martínez’s 2nd grade class honored the histories, cultures and contributions of famous individuals whose ancestors or they themselves came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Hispanic Heritage Month is observed in the United States from September 15th through October 15th. These ...

Know Your Neighbor

For Desi, Cam, and Lily 

I am Puerto Rican. 

But, I have light skin and two blonde boys. I grew up in Upstate New York and now live in New Jersey, and have a very fortunate life. I am not the Puerto Rican portrait you might imagine.

During a college interview I was asked about my heritage and experiences with adversity.  I said then and can say to this day, ...

Supporting Diverse Learners: Statement from School Board Candidate Donna Smith

October 8, 2017

Supporting Diverse Learners

Our School District faces many challenges in serving diverse learners appropriately, but the Board has a duty to make sure it happens.

I believe there are three key ways that the Board can use its oversight to ensure that the needs of our diverse learners are met:

1. Implement Rigorous Monitoring of Special Education and Gifted & Talented Policies and ...

Statement on Common Sense Gun Laws by Vic DeLuca, Candidate for Re-Election to the Maplewood Township Committee.

After the Orlando nightclub massacre in June 2016, hundreds of SOMA people rallied in South Orange saying enough is enough and that we need Congressional action for common sense gun laws. What we got from Washington was cowardice.

Since that deadly June day, some 480 days ago, we've had 521 mass shootings in this country. And our elected leaders are telling us now is not the time to talk ...

South Orange Police Blotter - Four Bicycle Thefts from Train Stations

October 19, 2017

South Orange Police Blotter as of October 19

Theft of Bicycle - An Orange resident reported that sometime between 3:30 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. on Wednesday, October 11, actor(s) unknown stole his black and yellow Mongoose brand bicycle that was locked and secured to a bike rack at the South Orange Train Station.

Theft of Bicycle - A South Orange resident reported that ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - 7 Thefts from Autos and 2 Vehicle Thefts Reported

October 10 - Shoplifting; At approximately 3:30 p.m. Wawa reported that a male left the building with several items without paying. Responding officers were able to locate the male a short distance away. The male, 51 year old Gregory Singleton of Union was arrested for shoplifting as well as an outstanding warrant.

October 10 - Malicious Damage; Sometime during the ...

SOMA Two Towns for All Ages to Host 'Repair Cafe' on Saturday, Oct. 21

October 19, 2017

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - There are over 1,000 Repair Cafés worldwide and the first one in New Jersey in coming to SOMA this Saturday, October 21, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Morrow Memorial Church (600 Ridgewood Road, Maplewood).

The Repair Cafe was suggested by South Orange resident Lorraine Graves, who brought the concept to Cathy Rowe, the coordinator of SOMA: Two Towns for ...

'Strut Your Mutt' Parade in South Mountain Dog Park on Saturday, Oct. 21

MAPLEWOOD, NJ -  This Saturday, October 21, is Strut Your Mutt, the annual Essex County Canine Halloween Costume Parade and Contest.

Two parades are planned, one at 2 p.m. in the afternoon (with registration at 1:15 p.m.) at the Essex County South Mountain Dog Park on Crest Drive in Maplewood/Millburn, and one at 10 a.m. in the morning (with registration at 9:15 a.m.) at ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_24dfebf016d155f25e1b_ryan_roa_postcard_front_lo_res

Thu, October 19, 10:30 AM

Seton Hall University, South Orange

Ryan Roa - It's Complicated

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_b2c3f16e2ca3ef3054e5_img_9396-web-682x1024

Thu, October 19, 7:30 PM

South Orange Performing Arts Center, South Orange

Colin Hay

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, October 19, 7:30 PM

Columbia High School Black Box Theatre, Maplewood

Mark Mazzetti: America's Shadow Wars: From 9/11 ...

Government

Carousel_image_24dfebf016d155f25e1b_ryan_roa_postcard_front_lo_res

Fri, October 20, 10:30 AM

Seton Hall University, South Orange

Ryan Roa - It's Complicated

Arts & Entertainment

Donna Smith for BOE - one of hardest working members of our Board

October 16, 2017

I’m pleased to endorse Donna Smith for a second term of the Board of Education.

Donna has been involved with our public schools since 1998, first as a PTA mom and as a BOE member since 2015. Throughout her years of service, Donna has been an advocate for all children to have options and choices over their academic careers, in terms of subject matter and finding the course environment ...

Donna Smith - a fierce, consistent, commitment to improving the educational experience of all of our students.

Donna Smith stands out in the crowded field of BOE candidates. She has a long and continuous history of service to SOMA schools. She knows our past and has a vision for our future. Donna is level-headed, reasonable, practical, thoughtful, and hard-working. Most importantly, Donna has demonstrated a fierce, consistent, commitment to improving the educational experience of all of our ...

Family Health

Second Opinion on Breast Cancer Program Offers Peace of Mind

A breast cancer diagnosis can change a person’s life. And during such devastating news, the sheer amount of information regarding treatment and follow-up care can quickly become overwhelming. However, patients are not alone in this fight. Atlantic Health System’s Breast Cancer Second Opinion Program at Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, Overlook Medical Center, is helping provide peace of ...

Christie, Booker, and Baraka Show Strong Support for Newark to be Next Amazon HQ

October 17, 2017

NEWARK, NJ - A bipartisan trinity of New Jersey politico firepower assembled in downtown Newark to shoot the first salvo needed to score a major economic triumph for New Jersey's largest city: the construction in Newark of the new corporate headquarters for Amazon, the world's largest online retailer.  

All three of the prime politicians in place inside Rutgers Business ...

Former President Obama to Visit Newark to Campaign for Murphy

NEWARK, NJ - Former U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to roll into downtown Newark on Thursday to campaign for the Democratic New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy as the battle to run New Jersey heats up in the race's final weeks. 

Obama's appearance in New Jersey's largest city less than three weeks before the Nov. 7 election on behalf of ...

Not So Fast Newark; Mayor Says Somerville Ideal Home for Amazon HQ2

October 19, 2017

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and assorted state and Essex County officials will try to convince online behemoth Amazon.com to invest billions in Newark as the ideal location for its planned expansion and an east coast headquarters complex worth billions to the state and local economy.

Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher says not so fast, suggesting ...

Lawsuits Over Westfield’s ‘Watcher’ House Dismissed, Report Says

WESTFIELD, NJ — A Superior Court Judge dismissed the civil lawsuit against the former owners of 657 Boulevard, now infamously known as “the Watcher” house, on Wednesday, according to a report on NJ.com. According to that story, the judge said she dismissed three counts of fraud because there was no evidence the former owners intentionally hid a letter from “the ...

Mahopac’s Frank Lloyd Wright House Back on the Market

October 12, 2017

MAHOPAC, NY — If you have about $15 million to spare, you can own the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home, which comes with its own island, on Lake Mahopac.

The iconic home, once rumored to have been purchased by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (those rumors were false), is back on the market with a selling price of $14,920,000.

The sale is being handled by high-end real estate brokers ...

Annual South Orange Halloween Festival on October 31

October 19, 2017

Believe it or not, it's almost Halloween! And the best place to bring your little ghouls and goblins is the annual South Orange Halloween Festival on the 31st from 4-6pm. Thanks to Sparkhouse and Natalie Farrell for sponsoring the fun!

Morristown Medical Center Again Recognized as One of ‘America’s 100 Best Hospitals’ for Cardiac, Orthopedic and Joint Replacement Care by Healthgrades®

Only Hospital in New Jersey to be named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Care™ for seven consecutive years and among top five percent of hospitals in the nation for GI Medical Treatment

Morristown Medical Center, part of Atlantic Health System, today announced it was again recognized as one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals™ for Cardiac Care, Orthopedic ...

Woolley Home Solutions: Heating Oil New Customer Offer

Woolley Home Solutions Heating Oil New Customer Offer

Get a $0.50/gal Off Your 1st Heating Oil Delivery, and $0.10/gal off for the Next 2 Years When You Switch to Woolley Home Solutions!*

For more information, click here or call Woolley Home Solutions now at 973-762-7400.

So many reasons to switch to Woolley Home Solutions for ...