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Column: Trader Shags Music Emporium offers old school records

by Tori Martinez - Lifestyles Editor
Mon, Apr 17th 2017 09:00 pm
Photos taken by Emma Misiaszek/PHOTO EDITOR

Vinyl records are coming back into style. Before downloading became popular,  people went to music stores to obtain the latest vinyl records.  Trader Shags Music Emporium on Main Street is one of few stores that still providing those records.
Photos taken by Emma Misiaszek/PHOTO EDITOR Vinyl records are coming back into style. Before downloading became popular, people went to music stores to obtain the latest vinyl records. Trader Shags Music Emporium on Main Street is one of few stores that still providing those records.
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In an age where songs and albums are almost exclusively downloaded, you have to wonder how businesses that thrive off the sale of music are still open. When is the last time you or someone you know bought an actual CD? Vinyl records are coming back into style, but you still don't buy them often. It seems like most music stores have either shut down or have added clothing, jewelry and other merchandise to keep their stores alive.

I stopped by Trader Shags Music Emporium back in December to look for vinyls as a gift. You know the place, right next to Perri's Pizza on Main Street. We ended up buying a couple records and I bought a few DVDs. There's just something about owning your own copy of a movie that makes you want to buy a DVD or Blu-Ray. I saw a decent amount of people come and go while I was in there, so I could understand how this music store was making it by.

Back in the late 1990s, owner Geoff Dwyer didn't have to change much about the store to keep it open, at least not until the early 2000s when downloading kicked off. He opened the store in Brockport in October  1997. Originally from the Rochester area, Dwyer moved to Connecticut to open his music shop in Danbury. Opening his own store was never a big dream for him - he actually started out as a baker at Wegmans. It wasn't until his wife, owner of Colleen's Kitchen down the road, asked him if working at Wegmans was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life that he decided to change things up. He wanted a store like CD Exchange in Rochester, owned by his friend Mark, which has since changed its name to Hi Fi Lounge. 

At the time, Rochester had enough music stores, so he started looking around where he and his wife had family, like California and Connecticut. Danbury was a good place to start, but the location he was in was tucked away in a shopping strip that was more of a destination stop, where people would have to know what they're looking for to stop by, unlike the frequent traffic on Main Street. Being near New York City, the cost of living was a little too much for them. 

They decided to come back to Brockport, unknowingly at the best time they could have. Just a few months before, the music store that was previously there had shut down (for personal reasons between the owners) and the spot was vacant. But Dwyer had his work cut out for him. The owners before him used to burn incense in the store every day and before he could repaint the walls, he had to clean every inch of all the settled smoke. For the first two years, people kept coming in and complimenting him for cleaning the store up, thinking it was the same store as before. The startup was a little rough, but nearly 20 years of business proves it all worked out.

Dwyer started his business right before downloading became popular. Back then, he had a huge college audience. I'm super jealous of those college kids who got to see the store when buying music was the thing to do. I can't imagine how cool and fun it was to go shopping for CDs back in the 90s. However, once mid-1999 rolled around and Napster introduced online music sharing, that was the beginning of the end of the college audience. Most of Dwyer's business now comes from regional residents and "townies," but with the resurgence of record players, there's been an increase in vinyl purchases, particularly with college students. 

Interestingly enough, Dwyer gets half of his business from buying and selling things on Ebay. He used to buy and sell things on Ebay on his own time, but once music sales started plummeting, he incorporated it into his business. It proved to be fun and something he really enjoys doing. He gets people from all over the area, reaching out as far as Albion, who bring him anything and everything to sell online. He charges a standard fee just to go through the whole process and also gets a percentage of the sales he makes. 

His largest sale was about 10 years ago. It was an old piece off one of those 1950s style gas pumps. Apparently there's a niche group of people who search for gas station collectibles, and although it went up online for $19.99, it sold to someone in Louisiana for $12,900. 

He's even worked with Brockport Auxiliary Service Corporation, selling their old computers on Ebay. I've noticed through almost all of my interviews with local business owners that they have some kind of connection to the college, whether they're alumni or work with the college. It shows just how much the village community and college community depend on each other. 

Trader Shags may not be the first store you stop by during your afternoon stroll on Main Street, but if you like music, posters or movies, make it your second stop. Buy a CD for your car stereo that doesn't have an auxiliary cord or buy a record for your hipster best friend. Check it out, even if you think there's nothing you could possibly find. I bet after talking to Geoff for a bit, you'll change your mind.


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