Johnny’s Makes a ComebackMore by Lisa Randall
NEIRAD enilno edition
“There’s nothing like grabbing a record and poppin’ it on the turn table,” Johnny’s employee Steve Mirak said.
Upon walking into the old school record store, it is impossible not to notice the floor to ceiling shelves of CDs with artists ranging from Smashing Pumpkins to Kiss. There is an instant, vintage vibe radiating from the store’s racks of concert t-shirts and stacks of posters, not to mention the band paraphernalia.
Though not many DHS students frequent the store, Neirad managed to track down a crowd that, when asked about the store, had similar remarks of, “Ohh, I remember that place.”
The owner, Johnny Konrad, opened the store in 1975. He is a lifetime Darien native who graduated from DHS in 1968. Johnny said he sees a variety of people come through his store, though the customer traffic tends to come based on trends and waves.
“It used to be mainly kids who come in, but it’s shifted back and forth to an older crowd,” Konrad said. Naturally, with the abundance of new technology, kids are now turning to their iPad or iPhone for endless downloads, instead of bothering with vinyl on a turn table.
“I used to go there when I was in 7th grade and I thought it was the coolest place around,” senior Joe Simonson said. “It’s a really relaxed place.” Simonson said he used to supply his wardrobe with Ramones t-shirts from the store.
Senior Ryan Dirvin agreed that he used to visit Johnny’s on a regular basis, saying he bought his first Eminem CD there. “The Eminem Show. In like fifth grade,” Dirvin said.
Dirvin claimed he also has a number of bumper stickers on his guitar that were purchased there, as well as a Smash Mouth CD.
“It’s been a while since I’ve gone. I miss that place,” Dirvin said, as he reminisced about searching through the hundreds of CDs looking for artists he knew.
Both Dirvin and Simonson agreed that they never really see any kids in there anymore, claiming its obvious why. “It’s just not practical anymore,” Dirvin said.
However, both Mirak and Konrad say that after 35 years, the store is still going strong, and Darien teenage attendance may be on the upswing.
“Vinyl is making a comeback,” the two-year Johnny’s veteran employee Konrad said. Perhaps he’s right in that kids who yearn to rebel from the world of iTunes and MP3s will try a record or two instead. And Johnnys is just the place to go; the store has a multitude of records, many of which were donated.
Mirak also attributes the stores success to its ability to supply customers with what they desire right then and there. “People want things now. You can order this stuff online but it’s not the same as coming in here, holding it in your hands and purchasing it from a store like ours,” Mirak said.
Mirak also said demand at Johnny’s remains high as there aren’t many record stores in the area. While there are places to purchase records in Norwalk and Stamford, they’re big name stores like Barnes and Noble, which don’t give the customer the same feel as the vintage Johnny’s.
As the Johnny’s employees watch kids come and go, they say they have always loved their job. “I get to help kids with their music selection and keep everybody happy. That’s the best part,” Mirak said.So next time you’re craving that old school record sound, pop by Johnny’s on Tokeneke Road and they’ll help you out.