Sounds Like a Broken Record? Rent Was Too High, Says Owner of Norman’s Sound and Vision[gPhilip Ross Norman Isaacs

Norman Isaacs, the owner and namesake of Norman’s Sound and Vision, said that he’s moving his record store from the East Village to Williamsburg because (you guessed it) his landlord is raising his rent.

The 65-year-old, who opened the shop at 67 Cooper Square in 1994, said that he received a call from the building’s management company, Levites Realty, informing him that his rent of $7,000 a month would go up to $11,000 once his 20-year lease expired.

“They called and said, ‘We’re raising the rent,’ and I said, ‘Can you come down at all?’ and they said no, and I said ‘I’m leaving,'” recounted Mr. Isaacs, who said his initial rent at the shop was around $4,000.

Kate, an employee at Levites Realty who spoke on behalf of the building’s owner but refused to give the owner’s name or her own last name, told The Local, “My boss says that at this point the gentleman that was at 67 Cooper Square had a twenty-year run there and that we never entered into negotiations. We attempted and he didn’t respond. We have great tenants that are interested that will go ahead and bring up the area.”

Asked if he felt he could turn a profit at the higher rent, Mr. Isaacs said, “Nah, not in this business. I mean, I might but I’d be working for the landlord.”

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He cited changes in the neighborhood, which lost Rockit Scientist Records around the corner on St. Marks Place earlier this month, as a reason he was relocating to Williamsburg, where he lives. “More music-minded people are living out there,” he said. “It’s what the East Village was 20 years ago.”

The Williamsburg store opened a few weeks ago at 555 Metropolitan Avenue in the former home of Rouge 58, an art gallery that closed its doors in October and moved to Paris.

The Cooper Square store isn’t the first that Mr. Isaacs has closed in the East Village. A few years after he opened Sound and Vision, he opened a second store, Norman’s Too, followed by a third, Norman’s St. Marks. Both have since shuttered. “When I moved here, there were music people,” said Mr. Isaacs. “Now the people who live here are lawyers and stockbrokers; they’d much rather go play golf than listen to music.”

In Williamsburg, Mr. Isaacs hopes to capitalize on the trend of buying vinyl among young people. Mr. Isaacs said that many of his customers are between 18 and 30 years old. “When you buy something online,” he explained, “all you have is digital noise. With an album, you have artwork, you have notes, you actually have something for your money.”

Norman’s Sound and Vision officially leaves the East Village in August.