A Record Store Grows in Sag Harbor

We all know Sag Harbor’s the best little town on the East End to walk around. This is why visitors flock to Sag Harbor’s Main Street. They are refugees from sad strip-mall wastelands, come to satisfy their need for quaint, well-preserved American Main Street vistas.

This summer, they were joined by another kind of visitor—also a refugee, in some ways. Innersleeve Records, until recently located at Amagansett Square, has taken up unexpected residence at the Long Wharf Promenade, right behind Simon Harrison Real Estate. This was unexpected because owner Craig Wright had planned to stay in Amagansett, moving into a storefront right on Route 27. When difficulties arose, however, he jumped at the chance to move to the Long Wharf in Sag Harbor.

“This is a great summer location, with all the foot traffic,” notes Wright. “People come down to look at the boats or get something to eat, and they see my sign and stop in to browse awhile.”

As if to underscore his point, a woman steps in. “At last, a RECORD STORE,” she exclaims, and happily begins flipping through the racks. A half hour later, she’s still at it. Meanwhile a father and son step through, the father pointing out some of the LP’s he used to own. A nostalgia purchase in the offing?

As it happens, Inner Sleeve has plenty of offerings for those who might want to try to recapture their past, and much of it is in very good shape. A quick browse reveals a mint condition original pressing of The Young Rascals’ debut album (with liner notes breathlessly chronicling the group’s summer of ’65, when they played The Barge nightclub in Westhampton every night!) as well as a copy of The Lovin’ Spoonful’s Daydream (final cut on side 2: “Big Noise From Speonk”). These would certainly bring back some memories for locals of a certain age.

But the truth is, most of the people buying vinyl nowadays are probably new to records. Twenty-somethings who were born after the “great digital changeover” of the late ’80s/early ’90s, when their parents likely sold off their record collections after replacing them with CDs. These younger buyers come to vinyl not simply as a way to listen to their favorites whenever they want, but also as something almost sacred—a way to connect to music more deeply. It’s easy to imagine that some of them don’t actually intend to listen to the records they buy.

Of course, should they want to give the records a spin, Innersleeve can help them, too. They sell new turntables that can be operated as either freestanding record players using the built-in speakers, or can be connected to larger systems for listening through larger speakers.

Innersleeve doesn’t just cater to the casual browser—it also has numerous finds and novelties that might interest the discerning collector. Just a sampling of notable rarities: a boxed-set, issued in 1970, of all of the RCA-Victor recordings by Fats Waller, including his earliest recordings made on a pipe organ; an un-released pressing of the now-all-but-forgotten folky Oscar Brand singing raunchy folk songs; an original, numbered copy of The Beatles’ White Album complete with the 8 x 10 color photos and poster (this means a lot to some people). Craig Wright also specializes in finding specific rare records for collectors, so if you don’t see it on the racks, don’t be afraid to ask.

Oddly enough, even with the eclectic mix of stores on Main Street, it’s been a long time since there’s been any kind of record store in Sag Harbor. At one time, according to my source, there were two different places to buy records in Sag Harbor, but the same trusted source recalls them both closing by the mid-’70s. Now, in these days of digital downloading, when even the big-city record stores are disappearing, there’s only one record store on the entire South Fork. That is Innersleeve Records, now on the Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. At last!

Innersleeve Records, 5 Wharf Street, Sag Harbor, 631-375-5316, innersleeverecords.com.

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