The sidewalk outside the entrance to Co-Op 87,covered with crates and boxes of $1 records, feels like your old college buddy’s apartment: stockpiles of stuff that live where it lands. But inside there’s a sense of cozy calm, like a warm library. That is, if libraries played loud post-punk albums.
This new Guernsey Street record store is small but not sparse. Record bins flank visitors on all sides and new releases paired with rare lps line the walls. The back wall, painted like a chalkboard, features handwritten new release titles between two caricatured record store patrons. It’s all very, very endearing.
Behind the counter sits Mike Catalano, a bespectacled baby face despite his beard stubble, and one of many co-owners of this legitimate co-operative. Co-Op 87 is a joint venture between local labels Mexican Cousin (Washed Out, Best Coast) and Kemado (The Sword, Children) as well as Catalano and his two partners Ben Steidez, and Mike Sniper.
The shop originally opened last spring as a storefront for the labels offering only new releases, but that soon ended, and as Mike puts it, “The labels owned this space and decided they might want to let somebody come in and do a more traditional store with used records and new records, so we all teamed up.”
Catalano has been working in record stores in New Jersey and New York since he was in middle school. “Stores I consider to be classic, wonderful, important stores like Exile on Main Street in Mt. Kisco,” he says, speaking in a hurried vernacular. Having helped open Academy on North 6th Street.in 2000, and managing it for years before working to curate the records at Eat Records (now just Eat, no records), Catalano is something of a Williamsburg music maharishi. When asked if he’s a musician, he says, “I wouldn’t use the ‘M’ word but I pick up a guitar sometimes.”
With plans to expand—the labels are relocating their shipping facility—Co-Op 87 will double in size and inventory by the end of the year. Patrons are invited to buy, sell, and trade any day of the week, and during my visit one of the owners of the Five Leaves Café came in to purchase Catalano’s personally curated selection of records to play in the restaurant.“People who are from the area, from the neighborhood, have been the consistent customers,” Catalano says, speaking quickly.
“Just their personalities and their acceptance of the store has been a really fun positive community feeling type of thing, as corny as that sounds. That’s been the reaction and it has been wonderful.”
The only moment Catalano truly paused to take time to deliberate was when I asked him what records he was enjoying at the moment.
“Uhm, uh, ok…” he stammered. “There’s a new Figures of Light record coming out that I’m really excited about; those guys are phenomenal… There’s a band from Sweden called Terrible Feelings that’s beyond the best thing going right now. I saw them in Germany and I haven’t seen or heard anything so fresh or so exciting in years and years and years… I’ll play it in a minute.
“No need,” I said. “I’ll just buy a copy.”
And he was right.
87 Guernsey Street