Victorious De Costa, Barkim Salgado and Haile Ali are three long-time friends who met years ago and bonded over their passion for music, all three had extensive musical careers behind them. Each of them was passionate about music and had extensive musical careers behind them. De Costa, now a filmmaker, had been a DJ for decades and managed artists; Salgado who is currently a New York City Transit worker, has been a DJ since 1988 — he started out spinning vinyl records; and Ali, the youngest of the trio, is a producer and master of ceremonies (MC). Their love of music led them to come together in September 2021 to open one of the rare Black-owned record shops in the city: Legacy.
The spark that led to the opening of Legacy began thousands of miles away from Brooklyn — in London. Ali was visiting and the Airbnb where he was staying happened to be on the same block of a record shop. Naturally, he had to go check it out and as he dug through the records he saw something that shocked him: the store was selling an album by Millie Jackson, an R&B and soul artist, for only £1.
“I thought ‘That was disrespectful.’ You have to pay at least £10 for that,” Ali says. “But then I thought, ‘Well it’s not a Black-owned record shop’ and then I thought ‘I’ve never been to one.’”
After seeing how little credit the record store gave such an important artist and realizing that he’d never actually set foot in a Black-owned record shop, Ali had the idea to open one. When he returned to his home in Houston, he called up an old friend, De Costa with his idea. They decided to open a record shop in NYC and began looking at spaces in Brooklyn. Shortly after, Salgado joined the team. On Labor Day 2021, the three celebrated the shop’s grand opening. The trio stocked the store with their own record collections and focused on quality over quantity.
“We looked at it as more of a gourmet experience. Making sure that people would come not just for the records but also the experience,” says De Costa. “One mini challenge [we had] was that the first year we started with our own collections. We had 90% old records and 10% new records. People would come in and they would ask for us to carry new records.”
Now, the store carries genres that they all like: R&B, jazz and salsa, but also a lot of modern albums such as Drake or Summer Walker on vinyl, as well as popular classics such as the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill or albums by the Fugees. For Ali, who has since moved back to New York, it’s been a great experience working in a record shop.
“Education is part of the experience as well. I think we are doing a great job as far as the generations we are reaching. People of all age ranges are interested in vinyl, even younger generations are interested in vinyl and it’s dope,” Ali says. “We’ve sold a lot of first records and a lot of first record players.”
De Costa also loves interacting with customers because he says you never know what a record will mean to them. For example, one time a customer came in search of the Superman album by Barbra Streisand.
“A customer came in and said ‘I’m buying this for my mother because I just bought her a record player. My dad just died and he was her Superman,’” says De Costa. “You never know what someone is buying a record for and what an artist means to someone.”
Having a record shop in the middle of the city can bring people a lot of peace. The co-owners also believe that listening to music on vinyl is a different, more superior experience. Music does not only sound better, but it slows you down.
“Playing music is probably the most therapeutic thing you can do. You have to sit and listen to a record. It’s a moment you have to take out of your day, even to put it on you have to open it up. It’s exciting sometimes, especially if the record is new. You have to take the record out, put the needle on,” Salgado says. “It’s not like listening to something online. You can groove to the record, if it’s old you can hear the crackling on the dust. It’s really gratifying, I rather listen to music on record more than anything else.”
Ali agrees, listening to music on vinyl is special to him as it takes him back to when he was growing up. If he wanted to listen to music, he had to stay home and be still, it wasn’t as easy as grabbing your phone and headphones.
“Vinyl is the most gratifying way to listen to music. For me, it’s the only way to calm someone down. With vinyl you have to ‘still yourself’ you cannot go anywhere,” Ali says. “I think for mental wellness, vinyl is the way to go, you could throw your phone across the room and just listen to music.”
What sets Legacy apart from the majority of record shops in the city is that it’s simply so rare to find a Black-owned record shop in New York City and the country itself. There are only four stores including Legacy in the city and roughly 50 in across the country.
“[Being a Black-owned record shop] is important because a lot of the music that is being made, is made by people who look like us,” says De Costa. “[It’s important] because things like a Millie Jackson, in some stores it would be invaluable, for us, our store champions the things people may not respect.”
Legacy prides itself on being a welcoming place for anyone who wants to come and enjoy music. Shoppers are met with the melodies of sweet-sounding R&B tunes. You can decide whether you want to start your search for records or sit down on one of its couches for a while and just enjoy what is playing in the background. It’s a great place to come in, wind down and relax.
“Everyone needs a moment of stillness and Legacy produces that. People often praise Legacy for being analog in a digital world,” says Ali. “They like the slow down we are providing for people. I think just instances of cool records playing, changes people’s moods. That’s what Legacy does. It’s not the same as other record shops. It provides moments of being still.”
Visit Legacy at 247 Water St. in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Show this article and get 10% off all pre-loved records when you shop in-person.