When it comes to any news regarding the local arts and music community It can be tough to find a silver lining. Thankfully there’s plenty of positivity regarding New Brunswick, New Jersey’s coffee and record shop, Chamber 43, which reopened after almost a full year of being closed A staple of the local News Brunswick arts and music hub since 2017, Chamber 43, like many businesses during the pandemic, suffered numerous challenges. This included almost going out of business twice, along with limited store hours and logistic issues involved with relocating and reopening a retail store. However, in true DIY fashion, Chamber 43 has managed to beat the odds and has returned stronger than ever with a renewed interest in showcasing the diversity of NJ’s local music and arts scene. While providing an eclectic selection of both music and caffeine, of course.
For co-owner Jimmy Fasulo, the mission statement of Chamber 43’s current direction is to preserve its authenticity, “It’s the only place I’ve ever known in the area that really puts on for the underground scene, everywhere you look in here there’s local music and art for sale” he explained. Fasulo, before coming into ownership, was a frequent patron of the original Chamber 43 and performed with various musical acts there. Today he remains determined in providing a haven for the burgeoning local culture especially in uncertain times such as these.
“The most important thing for me is that I want this place to legitimize the underground scene and keep it tangible. I’ve been performing in New Brunswick locally since 2013 and it’s evolved constantly but in the past four years, Chamber has always been a thing” Fasulo states of both the old and current location’s cultural significance.
General manager Joelle Zazz also agrees that the store’s ties to the local music community have benefited their business greatly. “We draw in a lot of the New Brunswick clientele and have managed to keep our old clientele as well. I think it also really helps that the store is owned by people who are genuinely from the scene. This is probably the most rock and roll you’ll get in Central Jersey without visiting Asbury Park”.
In an age where digital technology and streaming services are remaining dominant, Chamber 43 is very much still emphasizing the importance of physical media and connection. “Vinyl records for me are such an interactive experience. Everything here is inherited and has had a life of its own before it came here. The vinyl I see as a tangible piece of culture that’s made with intent and there for you whenever you want to listen to it”, Fasulo explained.
Speaking of community, Chamber 43 is distinct in that its true purpose lies beyond just providing customers with quality music and products and allowing for the culture to thrive and progress.
“We really want this space to facilitate the creation of art in any capacity and become a home base for creatives to connect. The main reason I threw my life savings into this was because I realized how important places like this are in times like these,” Fasulo said, referencing the driving motivation behind taking on ownership of Chamber 43, along with original founder David L.Martin.
Despite the fact that the store is still facing challenges related to COVID, Chamber 43 is still hopeful in its vision to provide unique opportunities including open mics, in-store performances, independent film productions and more in the future. Ultimately though, despite current circumstances Chamber 43 is thankful for its ability to serve as a beacon of hope for local music lovers and creatives in this time. “We’re so thankful people really showed up hard for us in our opening week and after all, we’ve battled to get here I’m so grateful that we’re able to do what we do, we’ve already quadrupled our sales the first week from the previous location. It’s just been magical,” Fasulo said. Currently, Chamber 43 is on track to continue giving customers a unique shopping experience while maintaining its brand of community as well.
Have you been to Chamber 43 in New Brunswick? Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author/s
Kenny Bieber is a Monmouth County-based writer and photographer who enjoys covering arts and culture. Big supporter of local music, vinyl records and that diners are an essential institution.