Michael Gippetti believes every community needs a record shop.
“Every community has a barber shop, a gas station, a hardware store, a liquor store — got to have our liquor — but you don’t see enough record shops,” said the 37-year-old Oakdale resident who opened his Better Nature Records shop in downtown Sayville this fall. “Record shops promote the local festivals and bands. There’s so much to do.”
Located at 56 S. Main St., Better Nature Records offers more than just music. Gippetti sells everything required to dive into rock culture.
Used vinyl records fill bins throughout the shop, rock band tees lay on shelves and guitars hang from the ceiling. Clothing racks throughout the store boast black jackets, Eleven Paris sweaters and hoodies and All Saints boots.
The store also carries new vinyl. Shrink-wrapped classics like “Led Zeppelin” and “Are You Experienced?” join newer albums like St. Vincent’s “Daddy’s Home” and The Black Keys’ “Let’s Rock.”
A guitar player himself, Gippetti’s shop is an authorized dealer for Electro-Harmonix, Z.VEX Effects and MAS Effects guitar pedals. He also carries amplifiers and the odds and ends guitarists regularly need.
The shop sees plenty of high schoolers and young adults pop in to try out the gear. Gippetti said he encourages the not-so-musically inclined to stop by as well. The middle of the store is essentially a living room, complete with couches, a television and an Xbox Series S ready for an after school hang out.
“This is a place where they can come here and chill, play Xbox, make friends, network,” Gippetti said. “It can be a refuge for a kid getting bullied. Things aren’t going well and he’s too scared to talk to his parents, he can come here, talk to me or someone else, or he can just come here and feel safe.”
A law-abiding punk
Since graduating from Brooklyn Law School in 2009, Gippetti has dedicated most of his time to work. But following a snowboarding accident in 2016, he left his Manhattan cubical gig, took up work as a freelance attorney and put his passions into perspective.
“I like music, I like guitar, I like clothing and fashion, I like retail design and I had some time on the side from my job doing (property sale) closings,” he said. “I felt like I had one chance in my life to do something like this.”
Gippetti balances Better Nature Records with his day job as an attorney. The shop is open Monday to Friday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Interested customers may want to call ahead to ensure Gippetti did not have to lock up early and step away for a closing.
Gippetti is a dedicated follower of fashion, always on the lookout for trendy apparel. And he keeps close tabs on the latest and greatest rock music. Gippetti chats customers up about The Blue Stones, Wolf Alice and his personal favorite group, Silversun Pickups.
“We can’t have everything, but we are pretty good at picking out what is good, what’s new, what people are listening to,” he said.
While there is plenty to buy at Better Nature Records, retail is only about a third of its owner’s goal. He said he intended to make Better Nature a record label, but that idea is on the back burner. In the meantime, Gippetti can offer artists various record label services thanks to his law experience.
“We’re not going to sign artists or have any ownership of their work, but we can provide entertainment law services,” he said. “We’re good with contacts, licensing, royalties, all types of stuff. That stuff is expensive and I can help absorb some of that cost.”
“We can get band’s vinyl pressed, we can help with promotional activities with the site and Instagram, help with digital distribution, reach out to festivals, reach to pedal companies for sponsorships,” he added.
For the artists
The third aspect of Better Nature Records is its function as a platform for artists, literally and metaphysically.
While the shop might appear small at first glance, the space opens up for live shows. A PA system is rigged up front, the couches and seating are rearranged and an audience a few dozen strong can pack out the store.
The Better Nature Records website boasts a blog that Gippetti hopes to use to promote local acts. He and his staff writers also promote different albums and playlists they are enjoying online and in the store.
“I think we could really serve as a platform and really cultivate a vibrant community of artists,” Gippetti said. “Long Island has an amazing community of artists and musicians, especially in Sayville. It needs to be captured and expressed in a way that really helps the art.”