Rough Trade Closing Brooklyn Location, to Relocate This Year

Rough Trade NYC
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Rough Trade NYC

For the past seven years, London-based record store Rough Trade has operated an expansive, 10,000-square-foot retail space and concert venue in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. Now, the company says it’s closing down that location and relocating to a to-be-determined new space somewhere in New York City later this year.

The company says the current location will close down in the spring, and that the venue -- operated in partnership with the Bowery Presents -- will not re-open in the same space, though it did not disclose whether its new location would also incorporate a venue space. All scheduled and future shows have been canceled -- though in-person events had already been shelved due to the pandemic.

“Our much-loved Williamsburg store has done us proud in helping establish Rough Trade as a New York-worthy music retail and gig destination, serving the city’s music lovers and the wider music artist community with expertise, creativity and passion,” Rough Trade co-owner Stephen Godfroy said in a statement. “Not only has it helped put us on the map here in New York, it’s also proven the relevancy and importance of record shops to a whole new generation of music fan -- showing that alongside the merits of streaming, there’s also a time and place for hanging out in an inspiring space that celebrates past, present and emerging music culture, one that offers a kaleidoscopic array of recordings to cherish and own, a place to meet other curious minds that helps establish a life-affirming sense of belonging, community and friendship."

Godfrey said that the pandemic -- which has hit retail and live events particularly hard, the twin pillars of Rough Trade’s NYC location -- forced the company to "rethink our approach," given that so much retail business has moved online, even as vinyl sales have continued to grow in the United States for the 14th year in a row, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data, setting records in 2020. In fact, only four times since Nielsen began electronically tracking music sales in 1991 has vinyl outsold CDs in a given week -- and all four of those instances came in 2020. Godfrey says those trends and the pandemic have led the company to "creatively reassess the junction between online and offline interaction," leading to today’s announcement.

“Having the confidence to relocate and reimagine would not be possible if it weren’t for the warm embrace New York has given us, a city where a love for music inspiringly brings people together and breaks down cultural divides," he said. "On behalf of everyone at Rough Trade and The Bowery Presents, we humbly extend our immense and sincere gratitude to all our music loving patrons. Rest assured, Rough Trade will retain its presence in New York -- we look forward to sharing details of our exciting new plans in coming months."

Rough Trade’s small venue -- a 250-capacity room -- had nonetheless hosted a long list of significant and emerging acts over the years, from its opening nights with Television in 2013 to shows by the likes of Green Day, Gorillaz, Leon Bridges, The Raconteurs, TV On the Radio, Tegan & Sara and Wilco, as well as early shows for then-rising acts like Halsey, SZA, Margo Price and Car Seat Headrest. At press time, the company had not responded to questions about the future of the venue or whether Rough Trade’s NYC location would remain in Brooklyn or move to another borough.

In the meantime, Rough Trade is asking fans and customers to share their feedback and memories of music’s role in New York City, the results of which it says it will publish later this year.