On This Coming Record Store Day, Here Are Some Great Ones to Visit in Our Region

Cool Beat Music and Books in Cheektowaga, New York and Niagara Records in St. Catharines, Ontario

“There is nothing as glamorous to me as a record store.”                Paul McCartney

A Brief Call-Out for Record Stores  from Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

Re-posted April 12th, 2019

This coming Saturday, April 13th is a very special day for those of us who love music and, most importantly, for what are left of the marvellous and magical places in our regions that bring that great music too us.

This Saturday, April 13th marks the 11th annual ‘Record Store Day’ across North America and other parts of the world – a day when those of us who love music and the very special sense of community music inspires when we experience it together can do that coming together at favourite brick and mortar record stores, to support and celebrate t what Paul McCartney rightly calls the glamour and the joy they can bring to our lives.

Cool Beat Music and Books, one of the great stores for records in the greater Niagara region – this one in nearby Cheektowaga, New York

Those of you who regularly visit  Niagara At Large may already know that I like to advocate for supporting what are left of some of the great  independently owned stores in our region, and recently I highlighted three of the best used book stores, including Hannelore Headley Old and Fine Books and The Write Bookshop in St. Catharines, Ontario and  Rust Belt Books  in Buffalo, New Year.

This time, on the eve of this year’s Record Store Day, I want to mention at least a couple of the  coolest record stores on either side of the Niagara River.

And I’ll start with one called Cool Beat Music and Books that you can find on the American side of the border, less than a 10 minute drive from downtown Buffalo, New York on 2445 William Street in neighbouring Cheektowaga.

Inside the Cool Beat store with owner Wayne Zaganiaczyk, a veteran record and book seller in the region.

If you are wondering how you are going to find this very cool store, I will include a link for a map you can click on near the bottom of this post. For now, all you need to know is that Cool Beat is a store well worth finding.

It has a great selection of used vinyl records and CDs, including the best selection of used 45s (or singles on vinyl) that I have seen anywhere since the tragic closing of Record Theatre in Buffalo a year and a half ago – and if you remember the selection in that mother ship of record stores, that is saying quite a lot .

There is plenty for Beatle fans at Cool Beat

Cool Beat has all of this music, in great condition and available at  very reasonable prices, along with an always interesting selection of DVDs, cassettes and books, and music memorabilia that includes way more than a littlefor fans of The Beatles.

And then there is store owner Wayne Zaganiaczyk, who is not only a nice guy, but  is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced people around when it comes to music and books.

Wayne spent many years working at that grand Record Theatre store on Main and Lafayette in Buffalo, and also spent  time working at a very popular Borders book outlet in Cheektowaga until, as  busy as that outlet was, the whole Borders chain went down a hole  eight or nine years a ago, and he went back to Record Theatre.

So when it comes to records and books and so many other things related, Wayne knows his stuff, and the selection at Cool Beat Music and Books proves it.

So take the time to check this store out. If you love record stores like I do, you won’t regret it.

The same goes for another very fine used record store on the Ontario side of the Niagara River that opened about a decade ago on 377 St. Paul St., on a block between Academy and Court Streets, in downtown St. Catharines.

Niagara Records on St. Paul Street in downtown St. Catharines, Ontario

That store is called Niagara Records and is chalk full of very well preserved used vinyl and CDs – an estimated 20,000 titles or more – in rock, blues, soul, jazz and other genres, featuring  many of the greatest artists, then and now.

This is one used record store you can walk into and have a real chance of finding what you are looking for or something very close. And even if it isn’t there, be patient. It may very well be there waiting for you on a future visit.  

In the meantime, it is hard to spend five or 10 minutes in Niagara Records without finding at least one or two titles you won’t want to leave behind.

I don’t mind saying that as large as my own record collection is, and as often as I thought I already had the cream of the crop when it comes to certain artists and certain categories of music, I’ve had more than a few “wow” moments when I’ve thumped through the bins at this store.

Inside Niagara Records in St. Catharines, Ontario

And just as it is with Cool Beat, you can’t have a great record store without an owner with a real knowledge and passion for music. That is certainly the case at Niagara Records where the owner, Cris, can trade his share of interesting stories about albums and the artists that made them.

You sure can’t get that kind of heart and soul experience buying music online.

Cool Beat and Niagara Records are just a couple of the good record stores we are lucky enough to still have around – just so long as enough of us continue to support them.

I could go on to mention a number of others, including Sunrise Records, one of the few shopping mall stores of its kind left in the region, and one with a great staff, at the Pen Centre in St. Catharines.

There is Mindbomb Records on James Street in downtown St. Catharines, and the Revolver and Black Dots record stores in Buffalo, and Frizb’s on Elmwood Avenue in neighbouring Kenmore, New York, just to mention a few. 

We can help these stores survive and thrive by making them the place we go for music, not only  on Record Store Day, but  all year round.

Finally, I can’t think of Record Store Day without remembering the very last Record Store Day in April of 2017 (not to mention all the other great times I had) at Record Theatre in Buffalo  where, as always on that day of the year, people were lined up along Lafayette Street, waiting their turn to get in.

Then, just weeks later, the announcement came that the store would close.

One of the last Record Store Days at Record Theatre in Buffalo, New York. After 41 years as one of the go-to record stores in New York State, the store closed in the summer of 2017, about seven months after its founder, Leonard Silver, died.

It was a real blow to the staff – a group of great people I still miss – and to a city and region that was fortunate enough to have one of the greatest record stores in any community between Toronto and New York City since its grand opening in 1976.

Today, the store still stands there, at the corner of Main and Lafayette, like an old ghost ship. I can barely stand to drive by and see it like that and, as silly as it may sound, I still keep hoping someone will go in and turn the lights back on.

There is no way that buying or listening to music online can match the heart and soul, and the sense of community that a true lover of the art can find in these magical places.

Let’s try not to let the lights go out on any more of them.

The legendary singer, songwriter and guitarist Bonnie Raitt once summed up the value of these places as well as anyone else –

“I don’t know if I’d ever have had the exposure to the roots and world music…folk, blues, classic jazz, gypsy, Celtic, African, Latin, had it not been for combing the racks of the local independent record stores in the Cambridge/Boston area when I was in college and the years since. … Having the ability to linger and talk about selections with a staff person who really knew their stuff and was able to illuminate why certain albums by a given artist were better than others or steer me to new exciting finds I never would have discovered without their help, is another reason why preserving these independent record stores is so crucial. It’s the personal connection, the vastly more extensive collections, and being part of the community of like-minded music fans, that makes such a difference.”

Here are  links for Cool Beat Music and Books in Cheektowaga, New York and Niagara Records in St. Catharines, Ontario, including links for Google maps on how to find them –

Find out more about Cool Beat Music and Books by clicking on its online site at – https://www.facebook.com/coolbeatmusic/  .

To click a Google Map to help you better find Cool Beat Music and Books, click on https://www.google.com/maps/place/2445+William+St,+Buffalo,+NY+14206,+USA/@42.8841019,-78.7822109,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x89d30c5acb04cfd9:0xc2b71a6e62a533af!8m2!3d42.8841019!4d-78.7800222?hl=en .

Visit the online site for Niagara Records by  clicking on – https://www.facebook.com/niagararecordstore/

To click A Google Map to help better find Niagara Records, click on – https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Niagara+Records/@43.1606013,-79.241429,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x48f5792d8b1fd515!8m2!3d43.1606013!4d-79.241429

If you want to get a larger listing of some of what is left of the better record stores on both sides of the Niagara River, click on – https://www.yelp.ca/search?cflt=vinyl_records&find_loc=St.+Catharines%2C+ON .

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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