Exploring Rochester’s Vinyl: Interview with Needledrop Records

Photo: Julia Merrell

Bags Unlimited got the opportunity recently to interview Needledrop Owner Russ Torregiano! Rochester is lucky to have such a great vinyl collecting community, and Needledrop has been a staple for 7 years. Torregiano’s shop, located in the South Wedge is a hub for all things vinyl, retro collectibles and turntable equipment! Let’s hear what he has to say about owning a shop, and being a collector himself.

BU: Tell me your background: how you got into record collecting, where it all began and how did you know you were ready to turn your passion into a business?

I got into record collecting in high-school when I started listening to punk music since a lot of it was only available on records that you had to mailorder. It started off as a small collection that grew into what it is today as I had more money from working a lot.

I decided to open a record store when I was traveling the country and realizing Rochester didn’t have the more underground/niche store anymore that I always sought out – I attempted to create what was lacking. Rochester has always had great stores and I thought I could add something a little different to the mix. I believe I have done an OK job of creating that store. November 2011 was when I opened so it has been 7 years so far.

BU: Do you have a favorite record?

I don’t have one favorite record but my favorite collection of records are my Misfits LPs and 45s. Get at me if you have rare ones you wanna sell.

Photo: Julia Merrell

BU: What is the most valuable item in the shop?

Probably some weird Classical rarity or some first press Beatles thing. All the really rare stuff I don’t keep at the shop.

Photo: Julia Merrell

BU: Most cherished for other reason beyond financial?

Some of my parents records that reside in my collection now. I like knowing they had them as a kid and I can play the same copy now if I want to.

BU: What record are you dying to get your hands onto?

I’d love some early Punk/Hardcore records I don’t have – early Dischord, Xclaim!, Touch and Go, and any Misfits and related that I don’t own.

BU: Farthest part of the world someone has come from into your shop?

I’ve had people from Japan in the store trying to buy all my rare Jazz and Soul LPs.

Photo: Julia Merrell

BU: Most well-known musician that has come to the shop?

The singer from Cold War Kids was in recently. I’ve sold records to Elijah Wood and Matt Groening before which is kinda cool.

BU: Do you have any plans to expand?

I would love more room – so, maybe.

BU: You host a biannual Record Show  every year, can you tell us how that came about? Does it see a lot of people?

We started that in Fall of 2012 after the Village Gate Record Fair ceased to happen. It has been a success ever since. We usually always sell out and get 100s of people coming in. The South Wedge Record Fair happens in the Spring and Fall every year at the German House across the street from the store.

Photo: Julia Merrell

BU: Do you have any collection goals?

Sell all my records except for 100 LPs and 100 45s.

BU: Favorite way to keep your records clean or organized?

I clean them on an Okki Nokki machine and store them in sleeves from Bags Unlimited.

Photo: Julia Merrell

BU: How has the community responded to you shop?

I think they enjoy it. I make sure to talk to my customers and get feedback from them about what to stock. Listening to the demographic has helped shaped the store into what it is now. I like having a friendly atmosphere where people can come in and talk to one another about music and whatever else. I always ask what people are listening to as it helps me find new music to check out.

BU: Advice you’d give to a new record collector?

Learn proper handling and storage techniques so you don’t ruin your records. Don’t buy a Crosley – get a real record player.

needledrop records

BU: Anything else you’d like to add?

Come in and say “Hi.”

Check out Needledrop on Instagram

Read articles that include other Needledrop info:

Record Store Crawl 

Record Store Day