On one of the New Jersey pages of Reddit, the online discussion group website, there’s a section called “Jersey Pride”, where occasionally somebody throws in something positive about New Jersey. I really love to check out this discussion thread (called a “sub-Reddit by people who use the platform) because when you live here, sometimes it’s hard to believe that anything could actually elicit feelings of pride.

But a family business that has been around for as many years as Music Country in Cliffside Park deserves to be highlighted and does make me feel a sense of pride. Granted, there are less and less mom and pop stores in New Jersey because the state does make it difficult to stay alive, but every once in a while someone beats the odds. Music Country is one of those quintessential New Jersey businesses that is so “Jersey” and so good that you actually feel good about where we live.

It is, by all accounts— or at least by the owners’ account on its website the oldest record store in the New York tri-state area and has been owned by the same family over 80 years. According to its website it was started in 1934 by Anthony Taliaferro and his wife Elsie and originally called Taliaferro Radio & Electric. The store sold radios, record players and records. Eventually the store was passed down to Anthony’s daughter Joan Demarest, and renamed Music Country by Joan and her husband, Bill. There are but a few vinyl record stores left in New Jersey.

A photo of the shop shows that it’s truly a throwback, with what looks like its original sign or at least a very old one, still announcing its name above the entry. The couple believe (and it’s probably true) that it is the oldest record store in the US.

According to Redditors, it’s still a fantastic place to buy vinyl records, collectibles, musical instruments and accessories. Many recounted their experience of shopping there for the first record they ever bought. Who knows what challenges this family has had to face during the coronavirus shut down? But it’s vitally important that stores like this remain in business to maintain the true character of New Jersey.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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