Albums such as Run-D.M.C.'s King of Rock, the Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill, and Michael Jackson's Thriller jumpstarted Diane Perez's fiery love for records. Eventually, they inspired her to open one of South Florida's best record stores.
"I got records from my mom as a kid," Perez, owner of Brooklyn Vintage & Vinyl, says. "She had salsa, like Celia Cruz... That was pretty much primarily the music that we had around the house. And then one Christmas I got my own stereo system, and from there it opened the floodgates."
Another spark was a question from a professor, who asked what students were passionate about. "The only thing that came to mind [was] the one thing that I always held onto, [which] were my records," she recalls. Unfulfilled by her high-paying position in the insurance industry, she took a leap of faith in 2016. She quit her job and opened her record store.
Fast forward to 2017, and the cozy Allapattah shop has already earned a nod from New Times for best record store and has planted a stake in Miami’s music scene by hosting tons of local bands at its monthly events. The shop, located in Artwood Projects on NW Seventh Avenue, will celebrate its first anniversary Saturday, November 11, with a bash offering the essentials: live music, free beer, and ice cream. The lineup will include a Saturday rendition of Vinyl Social Club from noon to 6 p.m., in addition to live bands and a DJ set from 6 to midnight. There will also be vendors, live art, and a food truck that will arrive during the later portion of the celebration.
Perez's milestone didn't come easy. Parts of NW Seventh Avenue were closed for months, and then came Hurricane Irma, which shut down the shop for part of September. Perez describes surmounting those hurdles as "a monument." She says, "Just a little while after [opening] before the end of 2016, they were already tearing up the street in front of the gallery. I don't even know how people managed to get inside the gallery [to get to the shop], but I guess those are vinyl heads for you."
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Running an independent record store in a digital music age must be tough. Just ask Lolo Reskin of Sweat Records and Mikey Ramirez of Radio-Active Records what it's like. Perez explains the obstacles she's had to overcome during her first year in business. "It's a matter of people finding out we’re still here," she says. "Even to this point of being almost a year into having the shop, I still have people walk through the door that say, 'I didn't know you guys were here.'”
Still amazed and shocked by her decision to pursue her passion, Perez says, "Every day I turn the key and it's like, Oh my God, I'm fulfilling my dream." She jokes, "Being able to sleep at night, that's fantastic."
Support your neighborhood record store by heading to Brooklyn Vintage & Vinyl's first-anniversary party. Thousands of preloved records await.
Brooklyn Vintage & Vinyl First-Anniversary Party. Noon to midnight Saturday, November 11, at Brooklyn Vintage & Vinyl, 3454 NW Seventh Ave., Unit C, Miami; 305-575-9160; brooklynvintageandvinyl.tumblr.com. Admission is free.