Record store backed by Erasure, Depeche Mode’s Vince Clarke coming to Park Slope

Watch this space: Owner Gary Giddens showed Brooklyn Paper around the Fifth Avenue location ahead of its makeover.
Photo by Adam Daly/Sterling Records

Enjoy the silence while you can Park Slope, there’s a new record store opening on Fifth Avenue next month, promising to be a haven for music aficionados of all ages.

Sterling Records, a passion project of owner Gary Giddens and backed by synth-pop legend Vince Clarke — one of the founding members of Depeche Mode, Yazoo and Erasure — is aiming to open its doors and have records spinning by May 19, just in time for the annual Fifth Avenue street fair.

Giddens, also the owner of nearby bar Gowanus Gardens, was first encouraged to follow his teenage dream of opening a record store by Clarke, his long-time friend. He said Clarke’s decision to come on board early as an investor got the ball rolling on making Sterling Records a reality.

“I’m really excited to be involved with Gary’s project, an opportunity to share our passion for music, history, vinyl and the art of audio,” Clarke said in a statement to Brooklyn Paper. “As an investor, I also get a discount at the store, so it’s a win, win situation.”

The store is also being supported by Gidden’s friends, the owners of Maker Park Radio, a non-profit radio station out of Staten Island, who will be streaming shows from the store as well as facilitating live music performances and showcases of local acts.

Both Giddens and Clarke regularly host their own shows on the station that will have a permanent deck in the front window of Sterling Records. Giddens plans to host his own show from the Fifth Avenue location but remained tight-lipped about who else shoppers may find on the decks.

Fans of Clarke, who may be eager to see the former Park Slope resident in person, can catch him performing his new solo album, Songs of Silence, at National Sawdust in Williamsburg on May 4.

Vince Clarke.Wikimedia Commons/livepict.com

Once renovations are finished at the former print shop at 121 Fifth Ave., Sterling Records will be offering an extensive collection of vinyl records, books, t-shirts, turntables, CDs, music accessories, and a curated selection of music memorabilia.

Clientele can expect to find the latest releases from big artists on the shelves, but also an array of merchandise from local and under ground bands. Giddens said there will be room for everyone in the mix at Sterling, which he likens to the nearby Park Slope thrift store Beacon’s Closet — but for music. 

“We want to get the ones who seem to be forgotten to be remembered and to have the ones that nobody knows in the store,” he said. 

Giddens and his business partner, Ray Gish, the owner of Commonwealth Bar, are currently fundraising online to help with future construction and inventory costs. The pair envisage being eventually able to transform the back of the store into a coffee shop to allow patrons to hang out and appreciate the music. 

Record stores were the place to be for Giddens when he was growing up in 1970s London, and he hopes to recreate that vibe in Sterling Records, a community hub that everyone feels welcome in.

“Kids just want to hang out, or mope as my mum would say,” said Giddens. “Even if they’re not buying anything I just want them to think, ‘maybe we’ll sit back here and have coffee and listen to music.’ Because I do feel when they do have money, or when they see a t- shirt or a book or turntable, then hopefully, they’ll come here and buy it.”