Brian’s Record Option shares tales from quarantine

Iconic local record shop owner sits down with The Journal

Brian Lipsin is writing stories during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Quarantine is nothing new to Brian Lipsin, who had to close his beloved record shop for nine months in 2018 after a flood destroyed a third of his stock.

Lipsin opened his store, Brian’s Record Option, in spring of 1980—over 40 years ago.

In that time, his store has faced some challenges: a year of construction to put pipes under the street, the resultant flood and shutdown, and now lockdowns due to COVID-19.

“I’m a survivor,” Lipsin told The Journal. “COVID compared to the flood—the flood was worse.”

The Kingston music community supported Lipsin after the flood and they’ve been helping float him through the pandemic as well. But it hasn’t been easy.

“Since January, I’ve been open for curbside, which is a very difficult thing because my store is a browsing store. But again, the community came up and everyone’s been messaging me and ordering things and sending things,” he said. 

“So, it’s been okay but not the way it was. December was an amazing, amazing month of business. Now, what I did per day I’m doing per week.”

While times have been tough, Lipsin was able to sell $4,000 worth of gift cards to people looking to support him. 

He has plenty of supporters in Kingston. During lockdowns, he missed all the social interactions he has at the shop so, while quarantining at his farm in March 2020, he decided to write some of them down.

“I was isolated and I wanted to connect with people, and what I ended up doing was writing the stories about my life or about the funny things that happened in the store. One a night,” he said.

“Mind you, there’s only so many stories per one’s life so you sort of run out,” he said.

By now, Lipsin has posted enough stories on his personal and business Facebook accounts to fill an entire book, which some customers and fans have suggested he do. Strangers have even approached him on the street to let him know they’re enjoying his writing.

He gave an example of one of the many funny interactions he’s had in the shop since the pandemic started.

“During COVID, someone came into the store without a mask and I told him, ‘If you don’t wear a mask, I’ll be forced to take your temperature and the only thermometers I have are rectal.’ The guy totally freaked out and put on his mask,” Lipsin said. 

Now that Kingston has entered the green zone, Lipsin is excited for all the stories yet to come.

“As the store opens again, I’ll have more stories to tell. People are beginning to know me as a writer and that’s been amazing because I never realized how big that would get.”

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