Surviving the iPod: Record Stop of Patchogue set to celebrate 50 years


It’s official, Record Stop is a golden oldie.

The Railroad Avenue record store turns 50 this year, and owner Jeff Berg plans to celebrate with the same community that has kept the mom-and-pop shop alive long enough to reach the milestone.

“It feels great for the brand and the community, but it wasn’t just me,” Berg said. “Besides the current staff, it’s my father who started it and all the other staff who got us here. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s great to see it continuing, slowly but surely growing and keeping the community engaged.”

“Maybe we’ll shoot for 100” years, he added.

Record Stop, known for its annual Record Store Day block parties, will throw a 50th anniversary bash Saturday, Aug. 10, from noon to 5 p.m. outside the Railroad Avenue shop. Villagers and music lovers can expect beer, wine and food courtesy of Bobbique, and of course, live music, including performances by Tasty Wave, The Martha Fockers and LipStick Rocks.

Lasting 50 years is no easy feat. This multigenerational ride has been riddled with peaks and valleys since Bruce Berg, Jeff’s father, opened Record Stop in Lake Ronkonkoma in 1974.

Record Stop opened at 279 Portion Road in Lake Ronkonkoma in 1974. (courtesy photo)

The younger Berg has been involved in the business throughout the past three decades. Hot musical trends went cold, physical media formats came, went and came back again, but Record Stop’s dedicated following never went out of style.

Through the late 1980s and 90s, though vinyl records had fallen out of favor, tapes, CDs and Record Stop’s wholesale endeavors kept the business afloat, Jeff Berg recalled, but by the end of the next decade, foot traffic grew quiet in the store.

“At that point, vinyl was already dead,” Jeff Berg recalled. “When it came to around 2008, 2009, the store in Ronkonkoma was really starting to slow down. There was no one knocking on the door there trying to get their iPods filled up.”

Record Stop vacated Lake Ronkonkoma in 2010, while leaving the younger Berg in charge of the family business. Record Stop as Long Islanders knew it was reduced to fulfilling online orders and running a wholesale operation from a Shirley warehouse.

But hope was not lost.

“Our longtime customers, when we said we were closing Ronkonkoma, they followed us to our warehouse [in Shirley] where we were doing online sales,” he said. “Then they followed us here [to Patchogue]. The community is what keeps us going.”

About 10 years ago, the tides were changing. Record Store Day, an annual event during which independent record stores sell exclusive and extremely limited titles on vinyl, starting drawing crowds to the nation’s vestigial local music shops.

Vinyl was making a comeback, and Jeff Berg couldn’t ride the wave from a warehouse.

He remastered Record Stop, opening its Patchogue Village location with tens of thousands of vinyl records and compact discs on hand in 2017.

“We’re still running alongside this train,” he recalled. “Let’s just jump back on it.”

Record Stop has been hitting a high note in Patchogue. When asked why music fans are loyal to both vinyl and independent shops like his, which offers a membership program, he pointed to the emotional value of a physical medium and the social value of sorting through crates of thousands of albums.

“They talk about music and memories of concerts,” he said of his customers. “You can get 90 percent of what’s in here online. But it just feels good to come to the store and do it and be part of the local community, versus just clicking a button.”

“Different formats are available now, and they don’t need to get a record, but they want to,” he added.

“I think we’ll still be around in at least 10 or 20 years.”

Top: Jeff Berg at Record Stop in Patchogue, N.Y., which is set to mark 50 years in business on Long Island. (Credit: Nick Grasso)

Jeff Berg (center) and his staff at Record Stop on Railroad Avenue in Patchogue last week. (Credit: Nick Grasso/GLI)

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