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Jersey City’s Iris Records closing in February

Iris Records
Iris Records storefront (via Facebook)

The Jersey City, NJ record store Iris Records will be closing its storefront at 114 Brunswick Street after 22 years of business. In a newsletter written by the shop’s founder and owner Stephen Gritzan, he announced the store’s closure, citing rising rent costs and competition with online sellers as the primary reasons for the shutdown:

You can’t really live a full life without making difficult decisions. And deciding to close our shop on Brunswick Street has been a tough one for me. We opened in June of 1996 (Fridays only!), with a dude named Nestor buying a Bob James album for four bucks. 22 years and millions of dollar records later, we have lots of old and new friends who will be gutted by our news.This was the most difficult aspect of my decision. Sure, the rent keeps rising, the internet is killing us and our street is a construction site without any businesses to bolster our shop. None of this is news to anyone who lives, works or plays in the “new” Jersey City. But communities need things like record stores, and with Stan’s gone, JC will be left with no shop dedicated to music. That’s what rankles me the most. But nothing lasts forever, right? Anyone who has spent time chatting with me about life in general won’t be completely surprised by our closure. Running a business is difficult and I have a fair amount of tread on my tires. It’s time for a change!

The store’s final day in business will be on Saturday, February 16. Stephen also notes that while the store’s physical location is shutting down, Iris Records’ online Discogs page will remain open, and the recurring Jersey City Record Riot outdoor event, which Iris Records sponsors, will continue to be held.

If you’re an indie music fan from northern NJ, there’s a chance you’ve visited Iris Records at least once. The store was converted from an old pharmacy, and some remnants of the old business still remain inside, like the pharmacist’s desk, and the various forms of vintage memorabilia that hang on the walls. For a long time, it was the sole indie music shop in the area, and was actually where I bought my first new record. There was also a killer $1 record section (I once found a copy of Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats in fairly great condition, as well as a clean copy of Mahavishnu Orchestra’s The Inner Mounting Flame). Iris Records also sold tickets to shows at the Jersey City venue White Eagle Hall, and held many in-store performances and live DJ sets, including tribute nights to artists including Neil Young, Elliott Smith, and others.

You can read the full announcement here, and watch a video below showcasing the shop’s history.

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