Wax off: Bed-Stuy’s beloved Israel’s Record Shop closing after 20 years

Vinyl fantasies: Israel Ben Yahuda in his subterranean store.
Photo by Jason Speakman

It’s the vinyl countdown.

Beloved Bedford-Stuyvesant basement music emporium Israel’s Record Shop will soon close its doors after two decades of slinging one of Brooklyn’s most eclectic wax selections, and the eponymous owner says the bad news has his long-time customers in a funk.

“They’re disappointed, angry — but more so disappointed,” said Israel Ben Yahuda, who will close sometime in the next few weeks.

Yahuda said he found out about seven months ago that the owner of the subterranean Fulton Street haunt — and the building above it — plans to sell, and now the new owner doesn’t want to keep him on.

The Fulton Street store is famed among turntable enthusiasts as a treasure trove of disco, soul, and jazz cuts, with an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 records filling crates across its black and white checkered floor that fans say is one-of-a-kind and will be sorely missed.

“It’s definitely a loss,” said local resident Malik Abdul-Rahmaan, who works at a record store in Manhattan. “His space is just a very unique space. It wasn’t just about the records. There’s not many places like that left now.”

Yahuda says some his favorite memories are of watching customers strike gold — along with seeing his kids grow up amongst the stacks.

“My best memories are seeing my children grow up in the store and seeing the joy it brings people when they find a piece they’ve been looking for for a long time or they’re really pleased with,” said Yahuda, who originally opened the store for some extra moolah while working as a cabinet maker in the ’90s.

A few devotees are helping Yahuda find another space to sell his discs, but he said Bedford-Stuyvesant’s skyrocketing rents mean its unlikely he’ll find another spot in the nabe — he has been able to hold on this long thanks to his long-standing relationship with his current landlord.

In the meantime, the spin doctor said he may hold a huge sale to send off his remaining albums, or will sell off the entire collection to other record shops.

Israel’s Record Store (1118 Fulton St, between Claver Place and Franklin Avenue in Bedford–Stuyvesant).

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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