Stereo Jack’s Records closes Monday between Harvard and Porter squares after a 40-year tenure – an impressive existence selling only old-school vinyl in an industry that transitioned from records to tapes to CDs and eventually digital, surviving a Tower Records and a pandemic.
Since reopening after the worst of Covid, owner Jack Woker says business has never been better – appeal for vintage vinyl is at a remarkable high due to its audio quality, usefulness to DJ and his collection – but the venue makes way for a recreational marijuana dispensary called Budega. Woker believes the cannabis store will pay significantly higher rent, as well as renovations at 1686 Massachusetts Ave., Ward 9, to update a structure that dates back to around 1890.
Woker’s store has been in its current location for 29 years, after 11 years just up the road from Porter Square. A cannabis store warning came in 2019, followed by a pandemic reprieve.
When he first heard the news about Budega, Woker thought he was just going to shut up and go home. Then he was approached by an employee, percussionist Chris Anzelone, who offered to buy the company and move it.
“I was thrilled,” said Woker, who still plans to retire – but thankfully as the store continues.
After Jack’s closing on Monday, workers will pack up the store and move to 736 Broadway in Ball Square, Somerville. The plan is to open the new store, which has roughly the same square footage, as close to September 1 as possible.
Among the things he will miss most about running Jack’s, “are the people,” Woker said.
The feeling was mutual. “Jack’s store has always been a treasure trove of the best music on the planet,” said Matt Millstein, a longtime local resident and frequent customer, who now lives in Sudbury, “and also a haven for heated debates. . Every day at Jack’s you hear strong opinions about where to have lunch, Tarantino’s catalog of films, or the general disdain for Rod Stewart’s solo career. The speech and customer base were always varied and totally captivating, as was the selection of music in the store. »
Jack’s kitsch-cool themed storefronts – in which the display cases are covered in visual record covers – have become an institution and a draw for strollers along the avenue. “I often photographed them and sent them to my musician son in Los Angeles,” said Michael Bogdanow of Linnaean Street, who once sold his vintage vinyl collection to Jack’s. “First you’re struck by the diversity of artistic concepts,” added George Emlen, musical director of the Revels organization, “then you try to imagine what the music sounds like, and finally you marvel at the way which these album covers reflect and represent a specific zeitgeist in our culture.It will be difficult to replace this incredible tradition.