It was 1973 and Bruce Berg, then 26, figured it was time to grow up.
After five years of traveling the country in a VW camper, he went from doing odd jobs and selling 8tracks on the side of the road to getting married and signing a lease on a storefront in Ronkonkoma.
“I saw there was a store for rent and I took it,” recalled Berg. “It was $250 a month and I had $1,000 to my name. I put out a few 8track tapes and a couple of stereos and I opened the door.
“I just said, ‘Ronkonkoma, come to the table.’ And they came to the table.”
He attributes his 36-year run at Record Stop on Portion Road “to giving people what they wanted.”
“If a customer wanted something rare … we took care of them,” he said. “And it just blossomed, like you water a plant. It just blossomed on and on. It was ball. It was a great thing for the customers, and it was a great thing for me because I had fun making a living.”
That fun has carried over to Patchogue, where the second incarnation of Record Stop was celebrated at a grand reopening block party on Railroad Avenue on Saturday. The brand-new Record Stop is now owned by Berg’s son, Jeff. The larger operation offers production, manufacturing and distribution services as well.
All that experience in music means the folks at Record Stop know how to throw a party.
They closed the road down and added a taste of the 1970s — the original Record Stop opened in 1974 — with 70s rock cover band Billboard Live and invited the community out for a day of music and giveaways. Jeff Berg also grabbed the big scissors for a ceremonial ribbon cutting alongside family, friends and local village and business leaders.
“We built this city on a little bit of Rock and Roll; we built this city on music,” said James Skidmore, president of the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce. “I see a lot of people over here who I’ve seen dance and party and enjoy life [out in Patchogue] and now we can spin some records right here at Record Stop.”
Mayor Paul Pontieri called Record Stop’s opening another example of a family and a business looking to come to Patchogue Village to take a chance.
“At first blush you think to yourself, a record store?” Pontieri joked. “But you walk into this place and you see the people here and then you understand they had a vision of what they wanted to do.”
“You added something to our community that we thank you very much,” he added.
As sales increasingly shifted to online and the music industry as a whole changed greatly, the original Record Stop closed in 2010. Jeff and Bruce Berg moved all of their operations to a warehouse in Shirley.
But Jeff never let go of the idea of wanting to reopen a storefront. He describes the shop in Patchogue as “a cooler, newer version of a record store,”
But Bruce Berg said he never imagined a day where he would be celebrating Record Stop’s grand reopening.
“Jeffrey took it to another level. it’s unbelievable,” Bruce said. “I give him credit … that place is awesome. He did an amazing place when you walk in there. I would have never dreamed. And look at the turnout. They love it. The people love the music.”
Top: Jeff Berg cuts the ribbon on the new Record Stop in Patchogue. (Michael White photos)
See Page 2 for more scenes from Saturday in Patchogue.