Jay-Z : "Our Passion is creating amazing music...Now with the Roc Nation/Skullcandy partnership, we are offering the best way for people to experience the soundtrack of their lives."
Record Mart Inc.--Unofficial Skullcandy Headquarters
This was my second time in “the city,” (ever!, groupie scream) since the day after my unexpected pilgrimage to the HOVA temple of The 40/40 Club; J. Cole performed a Secret Show there to promote Jay-Z’s launch of the Roc Nation Skullcandy Aviators.
Shortly before my departure, my attention was kidnapped by this red-headed version of Wolverine with a Dragon Ball Z hairstyle. I walked up to him and said, ‘I’ll let you touch MY hair if you let me touch yours!” It was too late, we were both in awe of and grabbing each other’s doo. We took the picture below right before I was favored by the ROC elders as I haphazardly made the acquaintance with the owner of Skullcandy. I complimented the sharp gentleman on his black and white pin-striped jacket that caught my eye for most of the night after J. Cole’s performance; he politely returned the compliment along with a handshake and hug. I had no idea who he was. It wasn’t until I caught up with Red Wolverine, Kabil Sheji, a few days later that I found out it was Rick Alden, himself.
It was a hot, sticky afternoon on Broadway. Traffic (including swarms of people on foot) was as thick as the air. I scurried to find a park while the navigation system and I were having a pretty heated debate. After I stopped listening to my Garmin, and started listening to Kabil Sheji (Public Relations Guru for Record Mart Inc.) on my cell phone, I finally found a park near his custom chopper. We hailed each other down while still talking, and boy, was his smile a site for the sore eyes of this country girl. During the walk down to Record Mart Inc. (located beneath the most internationally filmed subway in New York, Times Square Subway Station), Kabil and I began discussing the history behind the current largest dealer of Skullcandy products. The current owner, Lou Moskowitz, learned all he knows from his father, veteran store owner Jesse Moskowitz. The first thing NY locals in the 60’s and 70’s thought of when they heard Record Mart: “latin music superstore.” In 1958, when the store opened on the 14th St. Union Square subway station, Moskowitz didn’t know he would end up specializing in Latin music.
Mr. Moskowitz recalled: “People would call and say, ‘We can’t find you. We’re somewhere in the station." And we’d say, "Listen for the music...."
Jesse Moskowitz likes to brag about being the second New Yorker to buy a Fania record and show off his knowledge by “spitting out Fania names like a Rolodex.”
“You know, Jerry Masucci himself (co-founder of Fania) came to the store one day, and when I bought an album he told me I was his second client ever,” Moskowitz recalls. ~ NY Daily News
In 1959, Moskowitz took his business seriously enough to travel to Puerto Rico just to scout for new music. “In that trip, I met my first wife,” he says. “You see, I’m a honorary Latino.”
The 200-square-foot store is just 50 feet away from where the old one was when it closed after almost 40 years in 1999 (for the station’s renovation); Record Mart. Inc reopened Thanksgiving Day, 2007. Despite having been out of business for almost 10 years and Jesse Moskowitz’s passing the torch to Lou (son), Record Mart Inc. has remained the “Mecca of Latin music” as well as a Skullcandy smorgasbord.
The new Record Mart Inc. sells newer Latin & Jazz genres, classic/new DVDs and CDs, as well as the next level in sound experience provided by Skullcandy; this enabled Record Mart Inc. to compete with Internet sellers and downloadable MP3's. Rick Alden recently acknowledged Lou Moskowitz/Record Mart Inc. as “the #1 dealer of Skullcandy in the world right now.” Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Skullcandy Aviators are sure to fly off the walls with over 170,000 people passing through the subway every day; not to mention, generation after generation faithfully return to what I'd like to the call the Mecca for all things music. When walking past the Roc Nation enthralled storefront, you are engulfed in an entertainment time machine with a Latin safari guide, all the vinyl you can handle, and the largest selection of Skullcandy to listen to it all. As you can see, not much has changed...