Still Spinning: 720 Records in Lawrenceville has vinyl and more
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 00:10
Although vinyl records are no longer the mainstream music medium that they used to be, 720 Records believes that there is no such thing as a dead format.
Complete with a performance stage and café, 720 Records puts a spin on the traditional record store atmosphere. It’s more like walking into a Starbucks that just happens to sell records. You won’t find piles of old milk crates here; only neatly organized shelves filled with everything from Mos Def and Talib Kweli’s Definition to Sonic Youth’s Simon Werner A Disparu.
“We carry hip-hop, jazz, soul, world music, techno, house, indie rock; a little bit of everything,” owner Andrew Burger said.
There are roughly 2,500 records in the store at a time, according to Burger, but the store doesn’t limit itself with just records. The store also specializes in obscure books such as Graffiti Paris by Fabienne Grévy and Strange Sounds by Mark Blend, as well as independent designer shirts, dresses, shoes and accessories.
“The clothing gets people in who normally wouldn’t come to a record store,” Burger said.
Currently located at 4405 Butler St., 720 Music, Clothing and Café made several moves until it found the right fit. After first opening in Oakland in 1999 as “HyperVinyl,” the store soon moved to East Liberty in 2002. Leaving East Liberty in 2008, the store reopened in Squirrel Hill. From Squirrel Hill, the store landed in Lawrenceville, changed its name, and opened its doors January 2011.
“The name comes from a DJ term,” Burger said, describing the act of making an infinite song using two records and turntable, which is called a 720.
With a new store came a new feel.
The customer is immediately greeted on their right with a café counter featuring coffee, lattes, teas, pies, muffins and other baked goods. Hardwood floors give the store a warm atmosphere complete with studio lighting that introduces a more modern element. The store continues with neatly organized shelves categorized by genre, all housing a variety of records. Several tables are scattered throughout that are cluttered with books and clothing. At the back of the store sits a small performance stage used for their weekly Wednesday jazz performances.
720, open Tuesday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., hosts a number of events including a weekly Wednesday jazz performance as well as a monthly brunch called “Sundays Best.” The brunch features made-to-order waffles and omelets. The next brunch will be held Oct. 27th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to Burger.
According to Rolling Stone Magazine, vinyl record sales increased 14 percent in 2010 and Burger is feeling the effects.
“From a casual consumer, vinyl sales have increased over a few years,” Burger said.
Burger believes that the rise in sales has a simple explanation.
“There’s a physical nature to it,” Burger said, believing that one can always go back to a vinyl record, but can’t do the same with an mp3.
The younger generations also seem to have an effect on business, according to Burger.
“It’s definitely increasing,” Burger said. “Young people are discovering vinyl.”
Dee Stubblefield, 26, of Lawrenceville, has over 200 records and has only been collecting for a year.
“I usually buy records once a week … it’s an everyday thing,” Stubblefield said.
Zach Curl, 28, of Highland Park, has worked at 720 since it moved in 2011. Curl feels that it is part of his job to make people feel comfortable.
“I like the music and being able to talk to other people about records,” Curl said. “I like showing people music I think they’d like.”
“It’s not just a record store. It’s a meeting place,” Stubblefield said. “People come in for one thing and leave with something else … You just kind of go to hang out.”
This neighborhood establishment is also a favorite for those who have no interest in records.
Derrick Smith, 25, of Lawrenceville, doesn’t buy vinyl, but finds himself always coming back.
“I like the atmosphere of it,” Smith said, “Good coffee, good music and good people.”
If you are an avid record collector or just enjoy a good cup of coffee, 720 Music, Clothing and Café is more than just a record store. It is a place to spend an afternoon, meet good people and maybe pick up a record or two.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from,” Curl said. “People like good music everywhere.”