At its best, music is a communal experience, and that's what Wayne Zaganiaczyk, owner of Cool Beat Music and Books is aiming to make his store. "I'd wanted to open a small, independent record store for a while and I got the opportunity," Wayne told me when I came to visit. "People were asking for something out in Cheektowaga, and I wanted something old fashioned; a place where people enjoy going."
Walking into Cool Beat for the first time, I could see exactly the vibe Zaganiaczyk is going for. It's a small, rustic little place that already has lots of charm thanks to the layout. With one whole side of the store dedicated to a surprisingly large selection of used records and used CDs on the other, Cool Beats is already off to a great start as that neighborhood record store.
But there's something else you'll notice when you first walk in. On the left wall there's a huge collage of the history of music in Buffalo, ranging from Rick James to the Goo Goo Dolls, and even a picture of the late Lenny Silver of Record Theatre fame. "I wanted this wall to show that we're not just another record store," Wayne explains. "This is a place where you can go back in time through the history of music. Not just overall, but specifically the history of music in Buffalo. This wall was a big part of what I wanted in the store."
Only open about a month, the store is already expanding, with books and now posters being added for sale in a whole separate room adjacent to the main store. And that's not all that's in the works. "We're looking to have live music and book signings once a month," says Zaganiaczyk.
One of the first of these events is right in tune with what Wayne is up to. On Friday, March 31st, the inimitable Jim Santella will be on hand, ostensibly to sign copies of his memoir, Classic Rock. Classic Jock. But Santella is really a personification of the wall and his book is the story of Buffalo through the eyes of the "father of progressive radio" with all the bands, all the bars, and backstage with everyone from Jackson Brown to David Bowie. And since it's Santella, it's more about having a conversation than signing books. Just like he had a conversation every night on the air for so many years, like he was talking just to you and to you alone. If you haven't been to Cool Beats yet, this would be the Friday night to stop by.
And that's what t his place is all about: a small neighborhood place that is looking to develop a community. "This is a personal store, where you get to know people. I've been in the music retail business for 35 to 40 years and I love being with people and talking music."
As I was walking out, I noticed an awesome selection of vintage KISS memorabilia, and that's where the message of this store really hit home. This is a store that harkens back to a time of community and of small town charm; a place where people from across town would congregate to shoot the breeze about the latest Kansas song on the radio. At least I think that's how it went down; this is a millennial writing, after all. But regardless, it's a store that's only going to go up from here.
And Wayne reminds me, "We buy everything, too. Records, CDs, books...you can bring them all here." It's a store for the community, and the community gets to give back to the store. It's a series of values you don't see often in this world of big business, but it's one that I think won't be going away anytime soon, especially at Cool Beat.
Make sure to visit Cool Beat Music and Books at 2445 William St. in Cheektowaga.
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