Record riot! Eviction will end four decades of selling LPs in Slope

for The Brooklyn Paper

It’s nearly the day the music died in Park Slope.

The Record and Tape Center, a dusty, cramped record store that has occupied the same spot on Fifth Avenue, near Ninth Street, for the past 38 years, will be shuttered by May 31, the result of an eviction notice that store owner Tony Mignone said came out of the blue.

“I’ve never even been late on my rent!” said Mignone, who opened his store on Fifth Avenue and Sixth Street in 1965, and moved to his present location in 1971.

According to the letter, the landlords, a family that owns several grocery stores in the neighborhood, including the Deli and Smoke Shop next door, wants to use the space for itself.

Mignone, who spends his days amid rows of records and cassettes, doesn’t know what to do.

“I don’t even have a Plan A,” said Mignone, 73, who has been on a month-to-month lease since last fall. “If you move someplace else, you gotta start all over again. I can’t do that. That’s crazy!”

Crazier still, perhaps, is Mignone’s store itself. Looks like a graveyard of musical and video formats, boxes and shelves are filled to the brim with vinyl records while walls are covered with shelves of cassette and VHS tapes. By the front door, there is a glass case full of 8-track tapes. Most of his stock is second- or third-hand, and most dates from the 1980s or earlier, giving the entire store the feel of a time capsule.

Mignone’s friends are trying to convince him to face the music.

“[The landlords] have sent him threats in the past, but it looks like they’re serious this time,” said Neal Goldstein, who is also Mignone’s lawyer.

One customer suggested that Mignone move to Williamsburg — but others dismissed the idea outright.

“Williamsburg doesn’t need another f–ing record store!” said another, older customer. “We need you here!”

And he’ll stay — for two more weeks.

Reader Feedback

Scott Neuman from NJ says:
Hi Guys, Scott Neuman from Forevervinyl.com. Tony, I just wanted to wish you all the best. Amazing that after 37 years, your jerk off landlord is forcing you out. With collectible records starting to go through the roof, your collection just gets more and more valuable.

This week we picked up a John Lennon Acetate of the Wedding Album and had a agreement in principal to sell the Lost Masters to the Pink Floyds A Momentary Lapse of Reason. This business is the best. You get to enjoy what you do.
Again, best wishes and put up your internet store as soon as possible. The rent is cheaper.
May 20, 2009, 10:27 am
Scott Neuman from NJ says:
Just a follow up. Had the same problem in Trenton years ago. Went online and we now get hundreds of thousands of hits on our site http://www.forevervinyl.com. We only sell rare and out of print records in near mint condition. Again best wishes.
May 20, 2009, 10:28 am
David from Park Slope says:
Yeah ok Scott- the Landlord is a jerk for wanting to maximize his investment....

So are you a jerkoff for not selling your records below their market value?? I mean you are selling .45s for hundreds of dollars - what greedy SOB you are!!!!

Look its sad that time passes but it has.....Vinyl records are no longer a mass merchandice item - and a (disgustingly dirty) store selling old records can never do enough business to support the rent that a prime retail corner can demand - its called life..... if things didnt change you'd be selling those .45s for a few pennies each, but CDs were invented, records went out of print and now as you say the market is going "through the roof"

- its pathetic irony that you who PROFIT from the march of time - are now ——ing about it....
May 20, 2009, 11:07 am
Frank from Your Moms says:
Landlord “wants to use it for himself”, not 'maximize his investment". Tenant sounds like he made rent every month - for the past 38 years.

Vinyl sales were up 89% in 2008, while cd sales declined for the nth year in a row. Mass 'merchandicers' like Best Buy are once again offering vinyl as more people appreciate the sound and quality packaging of records over a mp3 download.

Bottom line is Tony's a good guy, and shouldn't be getting jerked around by real estate masterminds like this landlord. I've shopped at that deli for the last time.
May 20, 2009, 11:35 am
David says:
You can shop where ever you want Frank - but the landlord can do whatever he wants with his store - know why - cause its HIS.

It doesnt matter if he payed his rent every month - because his lease is OVER! No one is "jerking him around"
The corner is just too valuable to be utilized by a dusty old record shop that hasnt been improved in the 38years the guy has been there.....
time marches on and luckily their is alternative ways to sell such niche merchandise - its called the internet.

You can moan all you want but the LL is doing NOTHING wrong - he is doing EXACTLY what Tony is doing...operating a business, stop being so naive and juvenile
May 20, 2009, 11:45 am
travy from bkny says:
david- wow, you are a perfect example of why i won't set foot in the slope. too many ——s!
May 20, 2009, 11:45 am
David says:
And travy you are an example of an idiot....try making a POINT - you know a reasoned intellectual sentence that justifies your opinion.....

My point is simple - Tony is a businessman and the LL is a businessman - this is business - when record stores start selling their merchandise below market or giving it away to really cool people - then maybe you'd have a point, until then - this is how life works - get over it
May 20, 2009, 11:54 am
Slopey from Clinton Hills says:
I miss the Holy Cow record store on 9th St. (at 7th Ave.) I won't miss the Record and Tape center...the place is filthy and overpriced.
May 20, 2009, 11:56 am
Frank from Moms car trunk says:
D, I'm assuming you haven't read the lease so you don't know the grounds for his eviction. Tony could very well be getting jerked around. He's 73 and probably isn't about to start "giving it away to really cool people", whatever that means.

Yeah his shop is old school - that's why I go there. I expect a bit more from my music buying experience than opening up an amazon.com box or watching a download click across the screen. Meeting actual people is part of that experience that you internet shut-ins are missing.

I understand this is a money squeeze and he wants a bank or some big tenant.
These stores are what give a nhood flavor, and forgive me for expecting a little more than another cellphone retailer.
May 20, 2009, 12:33 pm
David says:
Frank - we can all hope for a cooler store than a cell phone store or bank - but the LL is doing EXACTLY what Tony and all retailers do - selling at the market - again I do not think Tony has a "cool guy discount policy" on his records and therefore its hypocritical to criticize the LL for trying to sell his merchandice at the market.

As for him "jerking him around" - you are correct that I haven't seen the lease but since the article clearly states Tony is renting w/o a lease (month to month) your point is irrelevant.

Look I get it...everyone loves to hate a LL - but I expect people to argue based on facts and intelligence rather than just knee-jerk emotion.
May 20, 2009, 1:12 pm
Joey Bots from Botabaloop says:
Why was i blessed with this musical talent?
May 20, 2009, 1:38 pm
Frank from Your moms Curves class says:
D, 'month-to-month lease' = lease, my point is relevant.

That block has a few empty storefronts already, I highly doubt anybody's waiting in the wings for this potential space.
May 20, 2009, 2:35 pm
K from Outside the bubble says:
I suppose people will be happy once everything unique and personal about NYC has been replaced by 99cent stores and strip malls. Me, I left. Tony needs to as well. It's over now. Leave NYC to the idiot rich and the idiot poor who service them. Neither knows jack about how to live. The scene is elsewhere now, my friends. Look for it outside the bubble.
May 20, 2009, 4:02 pm
David says:
"That block has a few empty storefronts already, I highly doubt anybody's waiting in the wings for this potential space. "

Then Tony should have no trouble moving - you could box up his entire store and move in under 3hrs. Oh and BTW - a month 2 month is just a holdover - you cant"jerk someone around" - at the end of every 30 day period their is no longer a leasehold

K - its not the LL responsibility to preserve things that you think are unique or personal.....glad you left - you sound like an a$$
May 20, 2009, 4:58 pm
Jay from Bay Ridge says:
David: As a landlord tenant lawyer, I can make this short--You are absolutely correct, and Frank doesn't know what he's talking about. The lease expired, therefore there is no lease, the landlord is under no legal obligation to let a tenant stay in property that belongs to the LL and not the T, and that is that. There is no defense for a T without a lease, and if he stays beyond the time permitted by the OWNER of the property, the only one jerking anyone around is the tenant. we aren't living in a communist society, yet.
May 20, 2009, 5:04 pm
david number 2 from bay ridge says:
So David,
What kind of "cool" or "valuable" store do you suggest would better go in its place that does not abound in Park Slope? One of them high-concept low-quality burger joints? A designer cookie store, perhaps? A yoga studio? A Corcoran office?
May 20, 2009, 6:33 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
David: Go jump off a bridge. (Oh sorry, do we have to worry about your feelings?).

For the rest of us in the sane and reasonable world, it is too bad this business is being evicted. I remember this store when I was young, and it was always a fascinating place to explore.

As for the landlord tenant lawyer's above comment, and obvious new friend of David, I would submit if this owner, who has been paying rent for 37 years, asks for six more months, in the interest of justice, he would probably get some time.

Oh, snap. It is Jay and David's bummer adventure in Park Slope. Thanks for making this place a little less Brooklyn, and a little more creepier.
May 20, 2009, 10:29 pm
Andrew from Sslope says:
Frank from Your moms Curves class says: "D, 'month-to-month lease' = lease, my point is relevant. "

Frank, the landlord doesn't NEED to give grounds for eviction -- because he's not trying to eject a tenant before a lease is up!
He's just telling a month-to-month tenant that his lease won't be renewed. And he can do so, perfectly legally, just by giving proper notice -- no "reason" necessary.

(Seriously - the landlord isn't trying to break along-term lease. And this isn't a rent stabilized apartment, where LL must offer a renewal!)
May 21, 2009, 2:10 am
Andrew from Slope says:
Charles from Bklyn says: "As for the landlord tenant lawyer's above comment, and obvious new friend of David, I would submit if this owner, who has been paying rent for 37 years, asks for six more months, in the interest of justice, he would probably get some time."

I'm sorry, Charles, and would like to sympathize - but that's not so.
A month to month lease generally isn't an on-paper lease. It's an "implied" lease -- usually when a written lease expires, landlord won't renew, but tenant is allowed to stay on and pay rent.

Whether commercial or residential: It's a VERY insecure situation, since landlord can -- 100% legally -- tell you to be out in a month.
So if that happens to you, you find another place ASAP -- because you EXPECT to get that "short notice" to move at some point.
And if Mr. Mignone has been on a month-to-month lease since last fall: That means already KNEW - for 6-8 months - that the LL could tell him to vacate on 30 days' notice (w/o giving any "cause").
But the story implies that it's some kind of surprise or 11th-hour eviction.

A judge might cut slack if, say, it's a residential issue, and a frail octogenarian is told to vacate in 30 days and might end up dying on the street.
But this is a BUSINESS! And it doesn't matter how long it's been there -- the law's on the landlord's side, Mr. Mignone had 6-8 months' warning, and he knew (or, as a businessguy/renter, should have known!) that he was on thin ice and had to come up with a Plan B.
May 21, 2009, 2:43 am
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
Has Tony asked the landlord for three or six months to extend? I didn't see it in the story. You know I miss many stores that have gone out of business. But Tony has been a month to month Tenant since last fall. Unless he was stupid, he knew his lease wasn't extended like it had been all the years before. The article doesn't say what he did when his lease and any extension expired. Not a good idea just to sit around and wait. Over the years he probably, maybe, could have purchased the building if he wanted to but when you just lease and the lease is coming to an end its time to extend or prepare to move. You don't own the space you just lease it. Most(not all) landlords probably will give some additional time to get out to avoid the hassle of a court case and neighborhood ire but the space reverts to the landlord. That is what Tony agreed to when he signed the lease and now he shouldn't make the landlord to be a monster because he isn't living up to his end of the bargain by leaving....
May 21, 2009, 7:27 am
Bob from Hibbing says:
Dear landlord,
Please don't dismiss my case.
I'm not about to argue,
I'm not about to move to no other place.
Now, each of us has his own special gift
And you know this was meant to be true,
And if you don't underestimate me,
I won't underestimate you.

Tony: You're OK in my book! I hope you get to stay or find a place close by to move to.
May 21, 2009, 1:44 pm
David from Park Slope says:
Look I hope Tony can move nearby and continue with a viable business (I dont think he has the merchandise or merchandising to make it nearby now that it is a very desirable retail are but I hope he can) BUT my thing is that it is ironic, pathetic and wrong for a businessman who is attempting to make $ based on selling his assets, would knock a landlord who is trying to do the same.

The Charles', Franks, and Scotts of the world may think their hatred of the LL is justified but there is no way to hate the LL without hating Tony as well - without being a total hypocrite.
May 21, 2009, 4:20 pm
Allen from Bay Ridge says:
Sid said, 'Has Tony asked the landlord for three or six months to extend? I didn't see it in the story ... Unless he was stupid, he knew his lease wasn't extended like it had been all the years before. The article doesn't say what he did when his lease and any extension expired. Not a good idea just to sit around and wait ... You don't own the space you just lease it.'

As others have said ... the month to month 'unwritten' lease was *itself* an extension. The landlord coulda just said 'you're out' and evicted when the written lease wrapped, but instead has let Tony stay on since last fall.

Therefore .. there'd be no 'court case' hassle for the landlord to avoid. You can't sue about *everything.* When a lease is up, it's up. There's no right to a new lease, so Tony couldn't have sued unless the landlord breached the old lease before it ended [like by changing terms or evicting before it ended], or breached the tacit month to month one [like by jacking up rent or giving him less than 30 days to split]. 'I don't want to move' isn't grounds for a lawsuit.

However, you're right ... When your written lease ends, and becomes an unwritten month to month thing, it is *not* a good idea to hang out & wait for the other shoe to drop. Otherwise, when the landlord says 'be out in 30 days,' you'll have to pack your whole business into mini-storage.
May 21, 2009, 4:53 pm
Allen from Bay Ridge says:
David said 'it is ironic, pathetic and wrong for a businessman who is attempting to make $ based on selling his assets, would knock a landlord who is trying to do the same ... The Charles', Franks, and Scotts of the world may think their hatred of the LL is justified but there is no way to hate the LL without hating Tony as well - without being a total hypocrite.'

Though I'm fully aware of the legal issues, landlord's perspective, and Tony's serious lack of forethought [see above]:
It *would* be hypocritical if the protesters were plain-adamantly anti-capitalist.
But they're not. They're clearly protesting (a) Small v. Big(ger) business, and (b) loss of some 'local color' and a personal-quirky old store.
It's like when local residents [who work for money, and for profit-makers] protest a tsunami-ful of generic 'mall' and franchise-type stores, or a big mega-store that will change the face of a neighborhood.
Everyone *knows* that businesses have to make money. But some moneymakers have more clout and options than others. [Joe's Hardware isn't Home Depot, and some guy who rents a store has less clout than the building owner.] Many people don't think that this kind of 'clout' alone should reshape a neighborhood.

It might not seem consistent or rational, but you can't just say 'you're hypocritical' or insist that a small business renter is on par with a bldg owner - unless you *really* want to make un-friends and influence people the wrong way.
May 21, 2009, 5:49 pm
vdq from prospect heights says:
i think he should move to vanderbuilt in prospect heights... the book store did and it was in park slope...
May 26, 2009, 4:51 pm
sid from Boerum Hill says:
Allen you actually miss the point. No one is allowed to evict anyone without a court case. No one is allowed to do self help. Either the person leaves voluntarily or you have to serve a hold over notice and if the person doesn't leave you still need to serve a hold over proceeding lawsuit and go to to court. You can't just change the locks. Its always a pain in the rear. yes the court in a case like this will order the tenant out and serve an eviction notice and/or send the marshal out but it is still a royal pita. Most landlords have had to do this before and know how to do it. But also most landlords if you agree to surrender the premises in 30/60/90 days will allow that too but you need to talk with the landlord to work it out....
May 27, 2009, 8:45 am
Allen from Bay Ridge says:
sid --
AGAIN: Tony wasn't "evicted" as you seem to view it - i.e., thrown out prematurely, either for cause or b/c landlord wanted to breach an existing lease.
- His written lease *ended,* and wasn't *renewed,* last year. Since the landlord let him stay on w/o written lease, it automatically became an unwritten *month-to-month lease.*
- With a m/t/m lease, the landlord can give 30 days' written notice - with no *reason* for requiring that tenant vacate.
- The landlords *sent* him that legal notice. They didn't use illegal 'self help,' like changing the locks, damaging his stuff, or saying 'be out in 24 hours.'
- Nor is/was he a holdover tenant who wouldn't budge and required a 'court case': He was a m/t/m tenant who'd gotten notice and - at the time the story was written - he still had 11 days to vacate.
- He also wasn't a residential tenant, with related 'protections.' (And even there: Landlords don't start a 'court case' every time a residential tenant's lease wraps and isn't renewed. The tenant has notice, and they presume that he'll vacate. If he's month-to-month, he gets 30 days' notice. They don't start a 'court case' unless he's still there after the vacate date.)

It's sad that Tony didn't seem to GET his situation, or "even have a Plan A," and said the vacate notice "came out of the blue" ... although he knew ("since last fall") that he was now a m/t/m tenant, and a m/t/m tenant can be told to vacate on 30 days' notice, w/o cause.
He even said that "I’ve never even been late on my rent!” - as if he could be evicted only "for cause" ... though that's not so, or even relevant.
May 27, 2009, 2:33 pm

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