NJ Record Shop Is Home to Many Classic Gems Page 2

Though I love the look of the Marantz, my eye was immediately drawn to the second receiver Revilla pulled off the shelf: a Technics SA-800, the not-so-little-brother of the SA-1000, which may well be the most powerful receiver of its day with a per-channel power rating of 330 watts. Unlike the Marantz 2240B, which was a fairly compact receiver for its time (about 17 inches wide), the SA-800 stretches out to almost 2 feet (about 23 inches). This thing is a beast — a majestic beast — and it’s in fantastic shape.

Like most receivers of that era (it debuted in 1978), this Technics model has a massive AM/FM tuning window that spans the width of its faceplate with indicators for power and AM/FM signal strength and tuning just below. It carries an 8-ohm rating of 125 watts/channel and, like the Marantz, has three tone controls and a second set of outputs for a remote set of speakers.

“This is the second SA-800 I’ve had in here in a month’s time,” Revilla notes. “The first one was a little cleaner and cost a bit more than the $650 I’m asking for this one. It sold in two days to a retired guy who had just gotten back into the hobby and was looking for an amazing receiver. This is one of the best receivers I’ve ever come across. I was shocked when I first heard it.”

If you’re thinking the prices seem pretty fair, that’s a conscious decision. “I want people to walk in here and say, ‘Oh, that’s reasonable,” Revilla explains. “I don’t want them to walk out saying, ‘He’s too pricey.’”

Revilla sells lots of receivers but turntables are his top selling category with the famous Technics SL-1200 leading the way. One of the Revilla’s best examples of the 1200 is the refurbished table in his listening room. It’s a model that came out in the mid to late 1980s and features a number of upgrades, including a repainted deck, new blue lighting, new output jacks (to replace the old-school phono wires), shock-absorbing Isonoe feet, and an Ortofon SPU #1E moving coil cartridge, a reissue of the SPU cartridge used back in the 1950s. SL-1200 turntables start at between $500 and $700, depending on condition, but Revilla is selling this one for $1,250 (with an Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge) because of the upgrades and modifications.

Before leaving the shop I couldn’t resist checking out the jukebox displayed prominently in front of the store — a 1952 Seeburg Select-o-Matic M100C that predates the rise of Elvis Presley. “It belonged to the mother of my wife’s childhood friend. She bought it 40 or 50 years ago and put it in her basement for when she had people over. She didn’t really want to get rid of it but had to because she was moving. It’s all original and has been tweaked and fixed to get it up and running,” explains Revilla, who dropped in a coin and selected Tommy Roe’s hit single “Dizzy” to prove the point. We stood there and watched a mechanical marvel in action as the arm grabbed the disc and move it to the upright turntable. Seconds later the opening drum hit and it was 1969. The jukebox, which is the same model used in hit TV series “Happy Days,” is loaded it with a selection of 50 “fun” 45 rpm records, mostly from the 1950s and 1960s. Revilla is asking $1,500 for this slice of nostalgia.

The story would be incomplete without at least a word on Revilla’s mainstay: vinyl records. So what’s selling these days? “We can’t keep jazz on the shelves Jazz — especially spiritual, free and hard bop — and we do really great with funk and soul. We get a lot of DJs who come in for breakbeat records and vinyl they’ve been hunting down for years and years. Punk and metal when we can find it are also big movers, and classic rock is always an awesome seller: Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix — they want it all day long. And people love to buy hip hop records, especially from the ’90s and early 2000s when hip hop vinyl was not really being made in big numbers.”

In the prog(ressive) rock genre, a perennial favorite of S&V readers, Revilla gathered a selection of rarities, including the super hard-to-find For You Old Women released in 1976 by the Jersey-based band Mirthrandir. If you want to add it to your collection, it’ll cost you $175. Another find that made Revilla’s wall display of special albums is Barney Kessel’s 1965 LP On Fire, recorded on the small label Emerald Records and featuring an exotic cover you wouldn’t expect to see on a record from this artist. It's selling for $75.

During the lockdown, Revilla pulled all of the records displayed on the walls of his shop and listed them for sale on discogs.com along with hundreds of LPs from his bins priced above $20. I got up to about 1,300 titles and did very well. We’ve continued to sell on Discogs but we follow this rule: Records that sell for more than 25 or 30 bucks go on the wall for two weeks before they go up on Discogs to give my in-store customers the first crack at them.”

An eclectic assortment of hard-to-find records Darren Revilla describes as “not your run-of-the-mill rock records.”

Visit Revilla Grooves and Gear online here.