Store Review: Co-Op 87

Admittedly, the name originally turned me off. Something in Greenpoint, Brooklyn called “Co-Op 87″ conjured up images of dry, flavorless baked goods, home-made knicknacks culled from dumpsters, and all manner of screen printed   what-have-yous. For about a year, I would pass by the sandwich board, perched at the end of Guernsey St. in Greenpoint outside of the beer hall just outside of McCarren Park, and assume that “Co-op 87″ would not be a proper record shop, but this could not be further from the truth. It took my own indulgence in new age living (more on that in a later post, trust me, it’s related) to finally break down and take a look at this little shop tucked away on Guernsey Street, not far from McCarren Park and a few of the other more recent landmarks of the area. To say the least, this dismissal was a tremendous mistake, as Co-Op 87 is actually something of a gem for such a small shop in a fairly out-of-the-way shop.

Not that it’s an uncommon characteristic of any other shop in Greenpoint, be it the unusual Heaven Street, or the other Electric Comic Book-favorite, Permanent Records. But where Heaven Street excels at stocking up on curios and Permanent caters to a little bit of everything, Co-Op 87 strikes a balance between having some of the more important releases in most bands discography, and having a few interesting finds in between. But moreso than any other record shop in the area, they go out of their way to find the finest quality in all of their bins.

More Co-Op action after the jump.

Any record store worth their salt would be certain to have staff that knows their bins like the back of their hand, quick to make recommendations and explanations. Co-Op 87 is a small space that it only requires one hard-working uber-clerk to make the whole effort flow, between re-stocking the shelves, making special orders, and still giving customers in the shop enough attention to offer special previews of still-sealed records, and talk up recommendations.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get the clerk’s name when I stopped in last, but we got into a deep conversation about Velvet Underground re-pressings, which, in turn, became a private listening session on some early Alice Cooper records, which, much like my assumptions about the store itself, I’d be proven wrong about what little I had known about Cooper previously.

The selection of the store itself is a well-mixed bag of recent releases, reissues, and great previously owned records. Rather than oft-seen classics spied in any record store’s used bins, there are actual classics to be found in the bins. On this particular trip, I walked away with Black Sabbath’s Paranoid in very good condition (if just a wee dusty and the album cover being a tad ragged) for only four bucks, and one of the Velvet Underground’s reissues that have become known for being unbelievably cheap. And while I didn’t venture into one of the tens of crates hanging around outside as dollar offerings, the selection still impresses given the size and the relative newness since the store’s transition from a store that caters almost exclusively to local labels and brands to a proper full-service store (as per this post from Brooklyn Vegan). Dig into the still-sealed stuff sometime, and you’ll find plenty of great local bands (including personal favorite, the Beets) alongside a well-curated selection of some of the more significant indie releases. It’s a matter of perspective for what you may be looking for, but this little space has enough to cater to most fans, and definitely warrants a stop if you’re record searching in Greenpoint.

Grade: B+/A-. The difference here is the kind of service that Co-Op 87 has to offer. Between the in-depth conversations about pricing and recommending bands and albums, I was most impressed with their interests in satisfaction over selling me extras. I asked about cleaning equipment, which they’re only thinking of offering soon. Instead, they offered a detailed explanation on how I’d be able to clean my records on the cheap, with assurance that could only come from personal experience. And call this a small pet peeve that should slide my opinion  toward favorable, but one of the biggest things that irritate me about most record shops these days was that Co-Op 87 actually let me keep the protective plastic sleeve they keep their inventory in. Most shops charge 50-cents extra for  that sleeve, and given the prices of most quality reissues and owned records, those add up for people who usually walk away with two records a visit. It may be only a dollar, a dollar-fifty on average, but it’s still unfair, but in a small way, as with many of the things that Co-Op 87 does, it’s a step in the direction of having an ideal neighborhood shop in an idyllic neighborhood spot.

Co-Op 87 is located at 87 Guernsey St, between Nassau Ave. and Norman Ave. 

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