How an independent record store capitalized on demand in Nyack, New York

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Located on the banks of the Hudson River, 25 miles from New York City, the village of Nyack, NY, is home to just over 7,000 residents, a rich cultural heritage and a growing music scene. The city’s Main Street neighborhood has capitalized on its charms, offering a plethora of locally grown establishments, including a thriving independent store of records, books and clothing all in one.

Beat of the main street

Main Street Beat was founded in 2015 by musicians Amy Bezunartea and Jennifer O’Connor (and previously shared the name of the label they run together, Kiam Records). The store has been functioning well for several years and captures everything that makes a successful Main Street business across the country.

“I think we’re kind of like a neighborhood one-stop shop for entertainment and gifts,” says O’Connor, who also has a new album on Kiam in November. “We sell records, music, books, clothes, birthday cards, jewelry – we’ve kind of adapted to what our customers are looking for over the years. We basically wanted to sell all the things. that interested us ourselves and that we really wanted could not get locally. “

Nyack residents and resident entrepreneurs recently connected by phone with Contractor to discuss how they got Main Street Beat off the ground, overcame being relatively new to the business and their hope that homeowners from all walks of life might have a fighting chance.

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What are the origins of what has become the Main Street Beat?

O’Connor: We had both worked in many different jobs and were interested in opening a retail store throughout our lifetimes, and just after moving here decided to give it a go. We found a really good deal on rent and sort of a perfect location and had a little bit of income stream, and it’s really taken off and going up every year. Obviously the pandemic has been a bit of a challenge, but in a way it has helped our business because we are doing something that people love to do at home. We sell things that people take home and don’t have to go out to do it. “

What kinds of obstacles have you encountered so far?

Bezunartea: There are so many. For me, to be honest, I think it’s assertiveness – the ability to set boundaries with customers, with the city, with employees. Our instincts towards people, please, cause difficulty. We’re that fun store and have all of these things everyone wants, but the other side of running a business is you have to say no to things very clearly and yes to things or it starts to affect your bottom line. and how you are able to serve your customers.

Image credit: Main Street Beat

O’Connor: I’m going to say being able to learn from mistakes and not take them too hard and just adapt and be flexible. We both entered this business without any real trading experience, so we really went through a lot of trial and error. I think we both also have pretty good business acumen and are very hard workers which has really helped us. I am always constantly learning. It’s a bit of fun.

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Have you questioned yourself throughout this process?

Bezunartea: Yes all the time. It’s like you have a fantasy of what it will be like to run your own business and have a small shop. And if you are a working class person, this is a major financial risk with a lot of ups and downs. It’s really hard to maintain the stamina, the excitement and the will to keep going because it’s incredibly difficult in every way.

O’Connor: I doubt all the time, but it’s good to have a good partner. We work really well together as a team, and I think it gives me a little less guessing on my own, because we’re really getting into a groove where we can make better decisions faster. We have a pretty good outlook on the future and what we might need to do to keep doing that and maybe grow – a pretty good outlook today, anyway.

Besides the end result, what were the biggest rewards?

Bezunartea: I think I have learned and grown so much as a person. Taking on so many challenges and overcoming the past two years, through Covid and so much – it was just massive crash training, and not just in business, but in community and real estate marketing and whatever else I could never imagine. So it’s been a really wonderful education that I don’t know if I owe student loans.

O’Connor: I agree, I think it definitely made me a stronger person. Beyond that I think it has been very rewarding to be part of a great community like Nyack and to really get to know a lot of people in town. And just everyday life in the store; there are also a lot of really wonderful moments with customers. We have a lot of regulars, and they’re the reason we’ve had the level of success we’ve had. It’s a fun place for people, and it’s something I’m proud to have created with Amy. It was a very big part of my childhood, buying records and books and things like that. It’s cool to see people, especially young people and their parents, exploring this. It’s cool to be a part of that and help foster that in the community.

How do you see the future of small businesses in this country?

Bezunartea: I feel so full of hope for small businesses and also so full of empathy and concern for them at the same time. We need it more than ever, but as the cost of living increases, it is more and more difficult for people to take this risk. [of starting a business]. You look at immigrant communities across the country and how there are so many enterprising businesses opening lounges, restaurants, all kinds of small businesses, and it revitalizes cities and entire communities.

O’Connor: You will learn so much, you will grow as a person, you will hopefully earn your life for it. It’s the American dream, isn’t it? Hopefully it can stay that way. Small business is such a big part of small communities like ours, and people want to be able to have them in their city, and they are doing whatever they can to support them.

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