Rough Trade Records opens in Williamsburg

Get to know the record store that refused to die.

Note: All December 2013 concerts at Rough Trade NYC have been canceled, moved or postponed. Check for up-to-date info.

Any indie kid worth their meticulously ordered and alphabetized stripes knows why it’s a big deal that Rough Trade is opening a store in New York. Rough Trade is part of the very genesis of the word indie—founded in London in 1978 as an independent record store, specializing in records made by bands on independent record labels, selling such music to independently minded music lovers whose tastes were not dictated by the 1980s U.K. equivalent of The X Factor.

And here’s the clever part: Rough Trade stayed indie even through the leanest years of music-industry recession—and stayed successful for the most part, too. How? Geoff Travis, the store’s founder, created the Rough Trade record label, which isn’t part of the store; nonetheless, the imprint and shop confer a degree of cool cachet on one another. The label signed bands like Stiff Little Fingers, Belle & Sebastian and the Strokes; the stores, meanwhile, kept their racks impeccably stocked, and established an unusually great Web business.

As music store after music store went under, RT remained open, offering its usual good service, plus even more free and cheap in-store gigs. Its owners are hoping for the same kind of success with a new flagship in Williamsburg, which lost Sound Fix recently enough to still be winceworthy. Rough Trade NYC is three times the size of any of its London counterparts, and its slate of upcoming in-store concerts—some free, most ticketed— is impressive.

At 35, Rough Trade may have a nice haircut, health insurance and a decent income (this store is operating in association with Bowery Presents), but it’s still truly independent at heart. Here’s to you, trailblazer.

Rough Trade NYC opens Mon 25; 65 North 9th St between Kent and Wythe Aves, Williamsburg.