Iris Records might not have ever happened. I moved into this storefront over twenty years ago after answering an ad in the Village Voice for roomates. The plan was to remain on Brunswick Street for six months and then move into the city. After the last roomate moved out of this 1930s pharmacy a few years later, I decided to bring in my flea market records and sell to the local kids (I didn’t even think of it as a proper “store”), mostly stuff like Tevin Campbell and Audio Two and Issac Hayes. When pressed for a name of the business, I grabbed the name of my brother’s late cat, and Iris Records was born. Very popular with the Japanese and the French in the 2000s as a wholesale outlet, shuttered a couple of times along the way (owner fatigue), the spot has survived through the music industry crash of the last ten years with surprising grace and good humor. Dubbed “fantasy island” by my best Japanese customer (Masaharu, where are you?), cool records are always appearing like they’ve fallen out of the sky, titles I’ve never seen before, even though I do all of the buying and shouldn’t be surprised by anything. While we would never say that we are the “best store” in any sense, we attempt the impossible: to satisfy all customers who walk through the door, to understand that everyone has different taste, and to defend your right to like any damn thing that you want. We’re very proud of our dollar record selection, our IrisDance department, our interesting assortment of new vinyl, and most of all our prices, which bring dealers from other countries (and even NYC) to purchase records and then resell them at their stores. We’re deeply thankful for our wonderful customer base though the years: diggers like Gil (whose mother’s name is Iris), Dirtyfingaz, Chill, Speed, Kyle, DJ Riddimaster, Makoto, Frankie Bones, Bruce, Jim Fu, Ken Sport, Big Jack, Henry, Ken French and a zillion more from down the street and around the world who have crawled on these floors. And big props to Mayfield and Monch, wherever they are. Can we somehow buy another 20 years on Brunswick Street????
- Stephen Gritzen