We got word this week that our local record shop, Iris Records here in Jersey City was closing it’s doors after 22 years in operation. Iris, who had a great history, like any other local record spot, was a cultural hub for DJs, record collectors, producers, music enthusiasts. Founded by Stephen Gritzan in 1996, the store was a huge part of Jersey City’s musical scene. Since we set up camp here in Chilltown USA, Iris Records was a weekly stop. With a dollar bin that had records better than a lot of store’s regular bins (we pulled everything from Jack Bruce to Gary Barz to every CTI record to rare rap 12”s and then some), their music was our sanctuary. Here’s what Gritzan had to say about the store’s closing:
“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! Our last day will be Saturday February 16th. I hope that many of you can stop by between now and then.”
Although the closing was not a complete surprise, it still stings. It was a regular spot for a lot of us to hang, and over the past few years their forty five section had a ton of great gems to be found. But no matter how many regular price or dollar bin records, used books, slip mats, or box sets you bought, this is what happens when external environmental and civic factors come into play. There is a need for a place like Iris in Jersey City, but the changing population with the influx of new people, rising rents, and the everlasting construction in that neighborhood all were factors in the ultimate closing of this institution. But, as Gritzan said, the need for a lifestyle change for him has brought it to this as well. The silver lining is that he will still be putting on the a Jersey City Record Riots at the PATH still, so we won’t be saying goodbye to the man behind the institution for good. I’m sad, but I understand what he has to do. Who will step up now? Let’s hope that whoever decides to open up a record store can fill the shoes of one of the most unique places we’ve seen in the city. At Iris, Record Store Day was every day, and we here at Flea Market Funk want to say a huge thanks to Stephen, the past staff at Iris, and all of the cool people we have met there. Vinyl records rule, and Iris was the epitome of that. See you in the crates in Jersey City sometime real soon.