Is Iris Records really located in an old pharmacy? What does the “Spice Of Life” sign mean? Is the place haunted?
Yes indeed, the Iris Records storefront was the pharmacy of the “The Village,” a primarily Italian neighborhood that consisted of butchers and bakers and produce stands (bars too) all along Brunswick Street. There are still remnants of that reality in the record store: the DJ booth is where the pharmacist prepared his various concoctions, the original medicine bottles in the glass cabinets, and check out the phone booths behind the “new vinyl” area. Then, as the neighborhood slumped in the 70s, the pharmacy closed and the spot was vacant for a while. Someone opened a health food store for a while, and hence the “Spice Of Life” sign. And yes, the pharmacy is definitely haunted. Things move around and there are noises. You’ve been warned!
Can you special order new release vinyl for customers? Can you get anything that is released? Are all recordings put out on vinyl in 2017?
Yes, we can always special order new releases for you. Just talk with us at the front counter and leave a five dollar (refundable) deposit to show good faith. We will contact you when the record arrives at the store. This is the simple answer! The more complex answer can be discouraging. First, not all new releases are available on vinyl. Second, records go in and out of print quickly, so just because your friend has some limited edition Jay-Z record or some Phish LP doesn’t mean that we can find it easily. Also, some labels really don’t wholesale to stores and you should just order it yourself from the label’s website—we will be happy to advise you on this. Remember that very popular records go out-of-stock VERY fast and there is nothing that we can do about this. Vinyl has become so popular that the labels can’t have things pressed fast enough!
Is it true that Iris sells all its great/rare records on eBay and other websites?
Most stores today do some on-line business, and we are no exception. But we sell relatively few expensive, desirable records on the internet. Most great records (probably 99%) stay in the store. We sell odd and ends on-line, mostly things that wouldn’t sell in the store, but have some value to someone, somewhere. Our goal is to keep great records in our store for our customer base to buy, and that’s a serious pledge. You can even ask us at the front desk for price quotes on any of the rare 45s or 12″ singles that we have listed on Discogs or eBay. How about that offer???
Do you accept want-lists from customers?
A million years ago, we accepted and actually solicited want-lists from customers. But the truth came fast and hard: as a small business, we really don’t have the time/energy to track things down for people. Most want-lists contain impossible-to-find, expensive, rare records and of course we’d love to help you. But we can’t. That doesn’t mean that the staff won’t grab something for you is we see it and we know you want it. But we can’t promise anything formally in this area, sorry.
I’ve always wanted to work in a record store. Are you hiring?
Even though we generally seem “fully-staffed,” we are always welcome quality employment inquiries. Wow us with your CV, your business ideas, your grand plans. You should know music as well! Stranger things have happened; some of our best employees just dropped out of the disco sky. But please remember that this not “High Fidelity” and we actually work: listing things online, carrying boxes around, working at outdoor markets. Iris is a great place to work/earn a living, but only if you are really into working and thinking and carrying boxes and helping us grow. Tell us what you can do for us.
Your prices seem a little high to me. Can I have a discount? I’ve heard that some customers get a 20% discount…what about me?
Keeping prices low is a big priority at Iris Records and we work hard at it. In fact, stores in New York City, London, Paris, Tokyo and beyond have shopped with us through the years and brought our records back to their stores for resale, so we must be cheap enough. As I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs, our prices on some used records are actually falling in 2017! That being said, we are developing a frequent buyer’s program that certain customers have been participating in (kind of a test market thing). More to come on this as details emerge.
I’ve heard that you allow customers to DJ in your store? Is that true?
This is definitely true, but is a bit more complex that it might seem at first blush. We do indeed allow “customers” to DJ, but they go through a rigorous vetting by crack staff. If you are somewhat established as a DJ, understand how to use our sparkling, high-end equipment, and well, if we like you, then you can definitely DJ. But it is something that you earn…and certainly not a right. We reserve the right to limit who uses our equipment and controls the store’s ambiance. Ask for more details.
Does Iris Records have a mobile DJ service? Will you play at my wedding?
Yes, yes & yes, but we don’t promote this fact and only play here and there. But please inquire at email@example.com if you want more information. We can orient the playlist perfectly for your event, whether the musical style is hip hop, classic rock or oldies. Iris Records has an amazing pool of DJs in our posse. We deliver the goods and help you have a good time with your event.
I am voracious reader of TMZ and all I care about is celebrity. Have any famous people ever shopped at Iris Records?
While Brunswick Street has always been a bit off the beaten track, Iris Records has had its share of the rich and famous. Woody Allen poked around in the jazz section while shooting a movie across the street, Peter Holsapple of the dBs brought a whole crew of vinyl diggers with him, raver DJ Frankie Bones is still a regular customer. We’ve also met plenty of noteworthy artists while selling on the streets of NYC, including Ryan Adams and Patti Smith. And while not exactly shopping, Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones changed clothes upstairs in the pharmacy on his way to a photo shoot. But the most infamous? Characters like DJ Quiet Man, Speed, Jackie Wingo, Kyle, Gilmatic, and many others…the secret stars of Iris Records’ past. For we are quite the populist store, haunted by the hundreds of diggers who have rummaged through our crates in thousands of hours of searching for that one track.
“I don’t like the record that I bought.” “This record is warped.” Exactly what is the Iris Records return policy?
Just to make things clear, let me quote from our actual receipt that we hand you:
All defective merchandise can be returned within 7 days for cash, credit, or gift certificate.
Unopened new vinyl can be returned within 7 days for store credit only (current market value of item computed upon return).
No refunds on records that you don’t like! We are not in the studio with the artists and we do not write the songs. This is why we have a listening station at the store.:)
I know that this might seem a bit inflexible, but hey, we have to have some rules. And again, it’s a small group of people (we know who you are!) who screw things up for the larger group. If you have some kind of special problem concerning a return/exchange that needs special attention, please talk with any of us about it. We’ll try to hammer it out (but PLEASE don’t hammer us first!).
We know that you sell at outdoor markets from time-to-time. How do we know where you are???
Good question. We’ve now made this easy for our fans. Just look on the front page of this website under the header “OUTDOOR SALES.” This will give you weekly info and will be updated often. But remember that outdoor events are subject to weather issues! Check out website for updates!
Is it true that the shop was open just one day a week in the early years??? What was that all about? ONE DAY???
If you were around Brunswick Street in the early days of Iris Records (the late 90s for example), Jersey City was a very different place. Not that it was so rough & tough & dangerous, but there was actually NOTHING much going on. Records were totally out-of-fashion during the CD era, most hipsters of the time lived in Manhattan or Brooklyn, and there was no economic reason to have a store so damn far from the Grove Street PATH station anyhow (I recall Brunswick Street being kind of poor)! Yes, we were open one day (Friday 2-8 PM), and the records were not so organized either. Most of our customers fell into three categories: 1) hip-hop producer types, looking for samples, 2) DJs looking for records to spin, 3) foreign dealers (especially Japanese) looking for records to resell in their country. We had good, loyal customers in those days—some of them still frequent the store. But we would totally close for a few weeks in the summer and then shutter for the ENTIRE month of December. It was a different world, yes! No one cared much about records. And on the weekends? Iris would sell at the flea market in Soho, on the corner of Broadway and Grand Streets. Wonderful, amazing, different times, those days…