For the love of music. Daredevil Records celebrates Falls grand opening – Niagara Gazette

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Partly cloudy. Low 18F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: January 15, 2023 @ 8:34 pm
Jessica Berry, the owner of Daredevil Records, poses for a photo in her Niagara Street business on Friday during grand opening festivities. The store and lounge will be open from 1 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.
A look inside Daredevil Records at 324 Niagara St.

Jessica Berry, the owner of Daredevil Records, poses for a photo in her Niagara Street business on Friday during grand opening festivities. The store and lounge will be open from 1 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.
A look inside Daredevil Records at 324 Niagara St.
Jessica Berry has a sense of what people who have lived in the City of Niagara Falls have been going through for many years now.
The owner of Daredevil Records, a new music listening lounge on Niagara Street, grew up in Beacon, a small city downstate in Duchess County that, when Berry was young, had little to offer.
“It was actually a lot like Niagara Falls,” Berry said during an interview inside her store on Friday. “I grew up where everything was boarded up and there was nothing to do.”
Niagara Gazette Reporter Mark Scheer interviews Jessica Berry, owner of Daredevil Records at 324 Niagara St. in Niagara Falls, on the day of her store’s grand opening, Jan. 13, 2023.
These days, Beacon is considered an attractive alternative to living in nearby New York City, which Berry said has caused her hometown to thrive again.
“Now it’s million-dollar homes and everybody from Brooklyn moved there and it’s like the coolest town,” Berry said of Beacon.
She’s hoping Niagara Falls will enjoy a similar resurgence in the future, which is one of the reasons why she chose to open a new business on Niagara Street.
“I always knew that I wanted to live here, in the back of my head. I just always loved it here,” Berry said. “There’s just something about it. I just can’t put it into words. It’s the nature. You are still close to two major cities. It’s a really good spot. In five minutes you are in Canada, so why not?”
Berry took a roundabout route to the Falls, having previously lived and worked in California, Montana and Louisiana.
She was working at a Margaritaville and as an assistant manager at a McDonald’s restaurant in New Orleans in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina came ashore, killing 1,392 people and causing more than $100 billion in damage.
One of the casualties was Berry’s home, prompting her to move to Niagara Falls to be closer to the family of her former partner.
She said the difficult transition was made easier by the generosity of Falls residents.
“The people and how nice and friendly they were and everything they did for us was actually flabergasting,” she said. “They gave us mattresses. They gave us clothes. They gave us furniture.”
For Berry, being near the Falls, the Niagara Gorge and the calming nature of it all helped her cope with the lingering stress from having gone through the dark days in the aftermath of Katrina.
“It’s a very big trauma, similar to what just happened with the really big snowstorm,” Berry said.
“I’d come out here to the Falls for some peace and quiet, some solitude,” she added.
Berry’s original business plan involved opening a coffee shop downtown that she intended to call “Daredevil Coffee.”
After giving it some thought, the music lover, who is a huge fan of jazz and blues, decided to do something different by giving customers the chance to browse through records and play them along with cassettes or CDs.
“I was looking for a business that everybody has in common,” she said. “Music is one thing that really nobody can argue about. Everybody loves it. Everybody’s into it. It’s something that brings people together.”
“We could just have a record store, but I wanted people to be able to sit and talk about music because people love talking about music,” she added.
While she considered a location on Third Street, she ultimately settled on the Tugby-Lennon block at 320-324 Niagara St. With help from the state, developer Sam Savarino completed a $3.5 million restoration of the mixed-use, three-story building in November. The space offers first-floor commercial and retail space, with apartments above.
“I think it was the building here that pulled me here and what they did here,” Berry said.
Berry is confident that she’ll be able to pull in customers — young and old — who are now sharing a love for vintage forms of music many may have thought impossible when the era of digital music appeared poised to make vinyl records, cassette tapes and CDs relics of the past.
Last year, vinyl sales outsold CDs for the second year in a row and vinyl sales in the U.S. grew for the 17th consecutive year.
More than 300,000 cassette tapes were sold last year and some rare newer releases and vintage tapes are selling for hundreds of dollars online.
Mega-star Taylor Swift’s most recent album, “Midnights,” released last year on LP, CD and cassette.
Berry believes a big part of the resurgence has involved what she describes as the generational experience that parents and grandparents — who grew up listening to vinyl records, cassette tapes and CDs — are having with their children and grandchildren who are turning to vintage forms of music despite growing up in a digital age.
“I see parents actually who are my age bring their kids in and they are going through albums together and the kid knows the same albums as their father or mother does, which I think is really fascinating,” she said.
“It’s not the item,” she added. “It’s the story and the joy you see from the other person and that’s what ties them together.”
Inside Daredevil Records, visitors will find a wide selection of vintage formats. In addition to new and used vinyl records, the store features an alphabetized catalogue of 3,000 CDs — amassed from what Berry describes as “deep dive” purchases from yard sales and on Facebook, Craigslist and other online sources. Visitors are invited to give the CDs a listen before they buy. At various spots within the store, visitors will find record, cassette and CD players for their listening pleasure. Patrons can also rent refurbished Walkmans and Discmans.
If visitors don’t find an item they are looking for, Berry can assist them with online orders.
Daredevil Records also sells T-shirts and collectible items and, as customers listen to music, they can enjoy Green Day’s Oakland coffee, Johnnie Ryan soda and Gene Simmons’ Moneybag soda. Beer, wine, cider and hard seltzers will be available for purchase later this year.
At the back of the store is one of Berry’s most beloved treasures — a Regency by Seeburg jukebox from 1973.
Berry said she originally hoped to purchase a vintage jukebox made by Wurlitzer due to its ties to Western New York but was told by several experts that the machines were too sensitive and not reliable.
She ended up buying her black and white Seeburg on Craigslist and later discovered that it actually came from Niagara Novelty in Niagara Falls and, at one time, played music for customers at a local bar.
“All of these records were probably played at some time by local residents,” she said.
As to her long-term goal for the store and lounge, Berry said she wants Daredevil Records to have an inviting atmosphere for residents and tourists alike.
For her, she said, it’s all about the music.
“I want them to have a great time, listening to music and talking about music,” Berry said.
Daredevil Records is located at 324 Niagara St., Niagara Falls. The store and lounge will be open from 1 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. The store will also be hosting events throughout the year.
For more information, visit https://daredevilrecords.com/. To find out more event information, follow the store’s Instagram account @daredevilrecords.
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