Birdel’s Records Says Goodbye

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Over the weekend City Room ran a nice homage to Bed Stuy’s Birdel’s Records, which is closing. The store opened in 1944 and the current owner, Joe Long, started working there in 1957. The shop specialized in gospel and oldies, but also sold some contemporary CDs. When we stopped by the store at 535 Nostrand, it was open but mostly cleared out. Signs on the window thanked customers for the 50+ years of service.
Birdel’s Records in Brooklyn is Set to Close [City Room] GMAP

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  • Sad….and in other news – the last slide-rule factory is closing this month

  • ***
    “The resurgent vinyl market isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. In fact, recent figures released by Nielsen SoundScan indicate that overall U.S. vinyl sales will once again set a benchmark in 2009, with sales up 50% through the first five months of the year. SoundScan predicts vinyl sales will reach 2.8 million units in 2009, up from 1.9 million in 2008, a record since SoundScan began tracking sales data in 1991.”

    Just FYI, fsrg. Slide-rule isn’t really a great comparison unless those are making a comeback too.

  • Birdel’s is about the only business I can think of that was here when I moved to Bed Stuy in ’83, and is still here now, although they moved up the street. They always had great music playing when you passed, in just the right number of decibles to entice you to come in, or take you down memory lane, not push you down the street in a wall of sound. If you looked up “Old School” there was a photo of them there.

    I wish the owner luck and good times in his retirement.

  • Actually, people who like high-end audio equipment often prefer vinyl over all other sources. Although, I doubt there are many “audiophiles” in the BedStuy area. (I’m not wild about that word, but it gets to the point.)
    Over the last 5 years, I’ve seen many artists and labels releasing vinyl, where they never had previously. And, lots of older stuff is getting remastered and released on vinyl.
    Again, this probably isn’t the BS demographic, though.

  • Hey I like vinyl as much as the next guy and seems the place and the folks that ran it are cool. But if you think vinyl is making a comeback, perhaps you’d also be interested in some Hollywood Video stock, as well as some old VHS tapes in my basement.

    Those stats of a couple million sales may be a sign of a healthy collectors / niche market, but CD sales turned vinyl numbers into a rounding error a long time ago, and now CDs are dying and digital sales (itunes downloads) are counted in billions of units. Besides, many kids these days never heard of buying music and don’t see a reason to pay for it when they can get find it for free.

  • Vinyl is already back. I see more vinyl shops opening up than shutting down.

  • Yep, a vinyl shop opened up on Court Street called Black Gold. Love that place.

  • joe long was the singular force behind creating the bed stuy gateway business improvement district. he is a business owner who cared deeply about his community.

    fulton / nostrand wont be the same without joe long.

  • Broadwayron, I bet there are plenty of old-timers in Bed-Stuy with turntables and their record collections. The demographic of the neighborhood isn’t restricted to those between the ages of 10 and 40. Not that the old guys have the money to buy more records, especially on Court St. at “collectible” prices.

  • “I doubt there are many “audiophiles” in the BedStuy area”

    I don’t know about that. Most people in Bed Stuy are passionate about music, and many of the men have HUGE stereo systems louder than a Meatpacking Club. And what about the whole tradition of DJ’ing and scratching?

  • Birdell’s was a neighborhood institution. Sad to see it close- I don’t buy music because I’m so hard of hearing, but I loved that the store was there.

  • haha mopar – DJs don’t spin vinyl anymore!!

  • “And what about the whole tradition of DJ’ing and scratching?”

    That’s diametrically opposed to high-end audio. I guess the crowd I’m referring to (which is very much into vinyl) often cares more about the SOUND of what they are playing, as opposed to WHAT they are playing.

    From my experience, I’ve found that vinyl on a crappy sound system probably sounds worse than a cd. However, on a NICE system, vinyl sounds much better than a cd. Especially the newer remastered records (which are probably not the stuff that Birdel’s sold- but I’ve never been there).
    I don’t want to turn this into a digital vs analog discussion- the above is based on what I know from real world examples.

  • “I bet there are plenty of old-timers in Bed-Stuy with turntables and their record collections. The demographic of the neighborhood isn’t restricted to those between the ages of 10 and 40.”

    Thank you rf. The fact that he’s been there for fifty years shows that there was a strong market. I wish people would stop underestimating what our “market” is, or what people here can and cannot afford. We have long had a very wide range of incomes and interests here, and in the case of Birdel’s, those in the know came to him from all over.

  • If you are interested, there’s a Record store on 5th Avenue between 8th and 9th that’s been around probably almost as long. Sad to see these old businesses close. Hopefully, it was by the owner’s choice, not circumstances.

  • slopeva, is that one still open? i bought some stuff from there last year but for some reason i thought they were having a going out of business sale at the time. i could be completely wrong on that tho… but i know of the store you are talking about.

    *rob*

  • The current vinyl resurgence is most likely a fad, like bellbottom pants. Let’s check where those (let’s be honest) puny sales numbers are in a couple of years.

  • vinyl has been kicking ass on the used scene for some time, notice the lines in Academy Records in williamsburg to check out. But now both older collectors and young fans want remastered new albums of older classics or they even prefer vinyl on new indie releases. Sorry to disappoint but the comparison to bellbottoms is lame and totally incorrect.

  • DH – DJ’s still spin, at least lots of the old school house music Dj’s (former garage and shelter heads). The crowd tends to be older, 40′s and 50′s, but they still know how to party and still love vinyl.

    It is sad to see Birdels go. Mr Long and Birdels are part of the fabric of Bedford Stuyvesant. I hope Mr. Long enjoys his retirment. He will be missed.

  • @Rob. I think its still open, I’ll swing be later and check.

  • “DH – DJ’s still spin, at least lots of the old school house music Dj’s (former garage and shelter heads). The crowd tends to be older, 40′s and 50′s, but they still know how to party and still love vinyl.”

    good to hear – definitely getting tired of all the iPod “DJs” out there nowadays