Wethersfield, Ct. – 12/20/2019 – Customer Ken Sarges consults with Ed Krech in the record bins of Krech's Integrity "n Music, a record store that is closing in January after being in business for 48 years "We have an expert here," said Sarges who said talking about music with Krech brough value to visiting the store that could not be matched by shopping for music online. Photograph by Mark Mirko | email@example.com (Mark Mirko / Hartford Courant)
Ed Krech was a survivor.
His Integrity 'N Music store in Wethersfield survived competition from the big box music stores, bookstores and department stores. He survived the internet and eBay. But he couldn’t survive iTunes and Spotify.
After 48 years in the business, Krech is closing his Silas Deane store that has become a sort of pilgrimage for many customers still enjoying the experience of listening to records on the turntable, tapes or rare CDs – all at a bargain price.
“I’m going to miss it for sure,” Krech said Friday, as he opened up his store for a half-dozen customers who trickled in over the first hour. “It has become more of a hobby for me now. I haven’t really made any profit over the past few years. I’ve kind of been doing it for the love of music. This has been pretty much my life.”
What Is This?
Wethersfield, Ct. – 12/20/2019 – 36-Year-old Massachusetts musician John Beaudette talks with Ed Krech of Integrity 'n Music while buying music in Krech's Intergrity 'n Music. After 48 years, the store where customers still purchase LP's, CD's and tapes is going the way of the corner pharmacy and Main Street movie house and closing its doors in January. Photograph by Mark Mirko | firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark Mirko / Hartford Courant)
The year was 1972 and Krech was a computer programmer stuck in a cubicle at Travelers insurance company. After a few months, he and a friend left the corporate world and opened a storefront alternative record store that specialized in rock and his beloved jazz. He notes he bought a house one week and opened a store the next.
Over the years, the store specialized in mostly jazz and would buy and sell new and used CDs, vinyl albums and tapes for cash or store credit. The “bricks and mortar” music store, as Krech calls it, also special ordered and shipped anything as Krech guided music lovers with his extensive knowledge. That’s something you can’t get streaming or on Amazon, according to customer Ken Sarges.
“It’s a lost art, it really is,” he said. “We have an expert here who knows his music and someone who understands the business that you can talk to and give you an explanation. I’m heartbroken. The man has a passion for this. He knows his history and you could easily talk to him for hours. It’s old school. It’s a loss. It really is. The hunt [for music] really makes it a lot of fun."
Wethersfield, Ct. – 12/20/2019 – Black and white photographs of jazz giants (from left) John Coltrane, J.J. Johnson, Art Blakey and Gerry Mulligan, Ed Krech sorts through CD's in bins of his Integrity "n Music. Krech is shuttering his store in January after 48 years. Customers can still purchase CDs, tapes and vinyl records and the store has hosted concerts by young jazz musicians for more than 20 years. Photograph by Mark Mirko | email@example.com (Mark Mirko / Hartford Courant)
For John Beaudette, nothing can compare to taking an album out of its sleeve and placing it on a turntable or reading every word on an album cover.
“I’ve been collecting vinyl my whole life,” he said. “I prefer it. It’s just the process of physically holding an album and putting a needle on it rather than clicking something on a phone. It’s an experience.”
For Krech, 75, the store has been a labor of love originally opening six days a week (no Sundays) which have now been pared down to five. And jazz music plays over the speakers all day long with occasional jazz concerts at nights for the past 20 years. He doesn’t really have a preference between vinyl or CDs or digital.
“Good music is good music even if it has ticks or pops in it,” he said.
Wethersfield, Ct. – 12/20/2019 – A record catalog is still available for customers to search for published music in Ed Krech's Integrity "n Music. Krech is shuttering his store in January after 48 years. Customers can still purchase CDs, tapes and vinyl records in the store that also has hosted concerts by young jazz musicians for more than 20 years. Photograph by Mark Mirko | firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark Mirko / Hartford Courant)
It’s the jazz music that has kept him going as he talks starry-eyed about New Orleans and New York City and proudly points to the photos of famous musicians and a jazz history family tree poster on the wall. All of it will start to come down on Jan. 2 when the going-out-of-business sale begins. He expects to shutter everything by Jan. 24. There will be two more live jazz concerts on Jan. 4 and 11 beginning at 2 p.m. Dozens of young jazz musicians have played at the store for the past 20 years.
“I just loved being here and having music playing and people coming in here to find some of their favorites or listening to the live music being played. I just loved everything about it. I’ll miss it. But it was time. There have been a lot of good memories. That’s all I can say.”
Peter Marteka can be reached at email@example.com.
Peter Marteka covers the town of Glastonbury for The Hartford Courant. He also writes the award-winning “Nature” column that runs each Sunday. Each week, he explores a preserve or state park – something off the beaten path – and brings that to readers in a column along with a photo gallery that runs online.
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