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Capital is proud to present the documentary film, For the Records, after a brief introduction from the filmmakers:
When Bob Plotnik quit law to open up a record store in Greenwich Village in the ’60s, the only thing he wanted was to get hold of his favorite street doo-wop records ahead of everyone else.
He couldn’t have known that the store would still be there nearly 50 years later—that it would survive the introduction of cassettes, CDs and MP3s, outlast CBGB, even stay open after Bob had a huge stroke and handed the store over to his colleagues to run.
And though “Bleecker Bob” is identified with some of the great names of rock and roll through the decades, and especially downtown movements from the Village’s folk scene through punk, new wave and alternative music, now, time is finally catching up with the oldest record store in the Village.
There are cracks in the black and white linoleum floor. Dust gathers on Bob’s collection of art deco clocks, many of which have stopped. Though the landlord of their building on West Third Street has been good to Bob over the years, he’s finally putting the rent up in line with prices in the area. Bleecker Bob’s is getting priced out.
Bleecker Bob’s will stay open until the landlord has found a new tenant. When it goes, it will take with it a huge part of the history of the Village. And it looks unlikely to find a new place to open up. Here, meet the people who made the store a New York institution, and watch as they struggle to decide what’s next. And, next time you’re in the neighborhood, stop in while you can.
GREENWICH VILLAGE — As managers at the iconic Bleecker Bob’s Golden Oldies record shop search for a new place to spin their vinyl, the store’s landlord is fielding offers from prospective new tenants.
The Bleecker Bob’s deathwatch has been in effect since January, with reports of the store’s closure and potential relocation from Bleecker Street to the East Village.
While Bleecker Bob’s is still open for business, the search for a new spot continues as closure looms, according to manager Chris Wiedener. Still, a future for the record shop is far from certain.
“The store’s for rent and we don’t have anywhere to go,” said Wiedener.
Bleecker Bob’s has been a Village mainstay for decades, first opening its doors in the late 1960s. The store specializes in the rare and obscure recordings, selling a bevy of vinyl records, CDs, DVDs and rock memorabilia.
Exactly when the store will shutter its 118 W. 3rd St. location is unknown. But Bleecker Bob’s landlord, Al Rosenthal, said it’s just a matter of time before he finds the right tenant.
“We’re letting them stay there until we get somebody, so it works for both of us,” he said. “There’s no timeline, but they should be finished very shortly though.”
Rosenthal said there is heated competition for the 2,000-square-foot space near the corner of West 3rd Street and MacDougal Street. Potential tenants have included operators of restaurants, bars, cafes and a coffee chain.
Rosenthal said his priority is finding a good fit for the neighborhood and the buildings’ residents.
“I’m looking for an amazing tenant,” Rosenthal said. “I’m not looking to put any garbage there.”
In case anyone was lamenting another Starbucks in the area, Rosenthal threw cold water on that prospect.
“As far as I know, it’s not going to be another Starbucks at this point. We’re shopping around,” he said.
Limor Eliyahu of Point NYC, Rosenthal’s broker, said he is “very long-term oriented — really waiting for the right concept and the right tenants.”
Both refused to name any interested parties, but Eliyahu said there is competition for the spot. She said one unsuccessful applicant offered to pay an extra $1,000 a month in rent.
“We have a lot of interest… knowing the area, there’s not a lot available” for retail space, Eliyahu said.
Gene Edmonds of Howard Beach said he has been picking through Bleecker Bob’s bins for a decade, whether to snag an outdated country western record or a Chuck Mangione album.
“I’m flabbergasted over it,” Edmonds said outside the record store.
“Bob always treated me good…. I bought so much stuff from him.”