Rainbow Records is preparing to leave the storefront it’s called home since 1987 – but the haven for vinyl lovers isn’t going far.
The Main Street store will close May 30, and the business will reopen June 1 in Pomeroy Station, the mixed-use complex located next to Newark Shopping Center and anchored by Ski Bum.
Co-owner Todd Brewer said the new location is larger, has cheaper rent and makes parking easier for customers.
“It’s going to be great,” Brewer said. “We’ve been wanting to bring free parking for our customers, and it’s finally happening.”
He also noted that Pomeroy Station has two entrances, one from Main Street and one from Chapel Street, making it easier for customers to avoid Main Street during the yearlong construction project.
“We all the construction, everyone’s worried. That was a big factor for us,” he said.
Brewer, who runs the store with his wife Miranda, plans to double the number of records offered for sale at the new location.
“We want to be the go-to destination between Philly and Baltimore for people who love vinyl,” he said.
The Brewers initially sought a location that would allow them to host live music performances but ran into issues with the city’s noise ordinance.
“The city of Newark is not super conducive for that,” he said, noting that he’s still pursuing other options to bring shows to Newark.
Rainbow’s history traces back to 1979 when former high school teacher Joe Maxwell sold his Triumph TRX6 sports car and used the money to open a record store called Joint Connections in the Grainery on Elkton Road. He later renamed it Rainbow Records and moved it to 54 E. Main St.
Rainbow eventually expanded to include books and a coffee shop as well as a gift shop across the street and a second location in Wilmington. However, as digital music grew in popularity, the store’s footprint shrunk. In 2010, then-owner Chris Avino reorganized the business into a small boutique-style record shop, leasing the front of the building to Switch Skate and Snow and moving Rainbow to the back.
The Brewers bought the business in 2014. Shortly after that, construction next door blocked the alley entrance to the shop and they had to get creative to stay open, reaching an agreement to install a door at the back of Switch to allow customers to access the record shop.
As they prepare to relocate, Brewer said they’ve seen a resurgence in interest in vinyl, especially among younger customers.
“We’re getting families in here – kids who are 8, 9, 10 years old who are excited about vinyl,” he said. “It’s something families do together.”
For kids, listening to an album on vinyl is a whole new experience, Brewer said.
“You have a whole generation who has never heard a CD, tape or vinyl record,” he said. “When a kid hears ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ on vinyl, it’s a whole different experience than their earbuds. And they’re hooked.”
Besides records, Rainbow also sells CDs, cassettes, band T-shirts and a line of vintage flannel clothing.
Through the transition to digital music, downtown Newark has continued to sustain two record stores, Rainbow and Wonderland Records. A third will open later this year: Long Play Café, a European-style bistro that combines dining and record sales, is planned for the former Fusion Fitness space at Market East Plaza.