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May 19, 2023 BIZ SPOTLIGHT 

Static Era Records caters to music lovers’ nostalgia

PHOTOS | Jean Falbo-Sosnovich Static Era Records owner Jay Reason.

Back in the mid-1990s Jay Reason remembers hanging out after school with friends at the local record store, flipping through rows of classic vinyl and the latest releases by his favorite bands.

That feeling Reason got - from holding a copy of the Deftones’ newest drop, reading the liner notes on a Beatles album or marveling over the iconic artwork on an Iron Maiden album cover - was something Reason lived for as a teenager.

“The experience of flipping through records, looking at production credits and artwork is something that isn’t the same when you scroll through Apple Music or Spotify,” Reason said.

That’s one of the main reasons Reason, 44, opened his very own retail record shop called Static Era Records, a throwback to the vintage record store of yesterday. 

The Static Era record store at 43 River St. Milford

The little store at 43 River St. in the heart of downtown Milford is plastered with rock posters, pays homage to the King of Rock N’ Roll himself Elvis and is jam-packed with new and old 12” vinyl records, some 45s, a small selection of CDs and cassettes, rock n’ roll T-shirts and other music memorabilia.

Since Static Era opened during the height of the pandemic in October 2020, the store has been attracting a steady flow of customers, young and old alike. Whether a group of high school girls stop by in search of Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ album (which sold more than 1 million copies in the U.S. in its first three days of sales last year) to older folks looking for anything by Elvis or the Beatles, Static Era has fast become a destination.

“One of my first jobs was at a record store, and that is an experience that has followed me since,” Reason said. “I want to replicate that for customers who walk through our doors.”

Vinyl making a big comeback

Static Era’s customers have contributed to the growing sales of vinyl records, which skyrocketed in 2022. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl records outpaced the sales of CDs for the first time in more than three decades. RIAA’s annual revenue report in 2022 showed 41 million vinyl records were sold compared to 33 million CDs.

Reason, who’s also the frontman for hardcore band The Distance, is psyched to be a small part in the resurgence.

“Not to sound like an old head and say ‘back in my day’ but there was something cool about not knowing what you might find in a record store,” Reason said. “You would go in looking for something, they wouldn’t have it so you might take a chance on another record.”

That’s exactly what Austin Joy, one of Reason’s longtime friends and employees, said often happens when Gen Z kids come to the store.

“They may come in for Taylor Swift, but they could end up leaving with Fleetwood Mac,” Joy said.

Reason also opened a retail store during the pandemic because most live music and shows came to a halt. As an independent music consultant, having worked for Sony Music, and with his own record label of the same name, Static Era Records, Reason said he had tons of inventory to unload.  

What customers are saying

A constant stream of music lovers who strolled into Static Era on a recent afternoon said they’re stoked to have an old-school record store back on the block.

Armand Giorgio of Milford has been a vinyl collector forever, and comes to Static Era on a regular basis to continue building his collection.

“I have about a couple thousand albums, my favorites are the Beatles since I grew up with them,” Giorgio said. “This is just a great store. You walk up and down the aisles and always see something that catches your eye. Jay was able to track down a rare, bootleg copy of the Beatles’ ‘Black’ album for me. I stop in here a couple times a week, sometimes to buy, sometimes just to talk.”

Reason said almost immediately after the store opened, he’s been lucky to help build up a vinyl community in the neighborhood.

Static Era Records in Milford features music, rock posters, T-shirts and memorabilia.

“It was like people were waiting for a shop in this area,” Reason said. “We started strong and luckily have been able to maintain that momentum.”

Monika Chapar moved to Milford last year, and Static Era was one of the first places she scoped out.

“This place rocks,” Chapar said after purchasing albums by the Cars and Carole King. “It’s a visceral experience sitting down and listening to an album.”

Another one of Static Era’s regulars is Ian Ward of Fairfield.

“I grew up on CDs, but my dad was always telling me stories about vinyl, so I wanted to get into it,” Ward, 25, said. “I saw vinyl was surging again on TikTok, so I started building my own collection.”

Dave Fitch of Milford stops by Static Era every chance he gets.

“They have a really wide range of things and the prices are great, and there’s definitely something about flipping through records,” Fitch said, who owns more than 2,000 records.

“The first record I bought in a store was Kansas’ ‘Point of No return’ in the 1970s.” 

“I come in here and it brings me back,” Fitch added. “I find things I didn’t even know I was looking for.”

Reason enjoys getting to know his customers and learning what they’re into.

“I hope people come to visit us to get a bit of a throwback record store vibe, where the music is cranked, the walls are covered in posters and album covers, and you’re going to be greeted when you walk in…plus we also have a Chucky doll that has a massive bowl of free candy when you walk in,” said Reason. “We want to be a hub for musicians and people who love music. I want kids in bands who are looking for a drummer or a guitar player to come and find that here, too.”

Static Era’s story may also become part of a reality show. Reason said he just shot the pilot, along with another record store from Massachusetts, and said it could debut next year.

“It’s like Antiques Roadshow meets Pawn Stars, but with records,” Reason said.

Static Era is open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and by appointment on Tuesdays. Reason hopes to eventually open on Sundays also.

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