Tucked into West Orange, where a gluten-free bakery used to reside, lives the most recent installment in the Lancaster record store scene.
Moira Records at Lazarus Juice Bar co-owner Jason Pohlig was using the space above the store as an art studio when his landlord suggested he and his friends rent it out for small business purposes.
“I’ve traveled a bit, and I’ve seen stuff like this – like, merging five or six ideas into one, and building it into a small space,” says Pohlig. “It would be really easy to maintain something on a smaller level like records and juice. And it would just be added rent to [the studio] upstairs. So I pitched it to [the landlord].”
Pohlig and his business partner Juany Santos had originally planned on selling a limited amount of records at first. But then they went to Israel.
After 20 years as a staple record store on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, Israel’s Record Shop closed earlier this year. Brooklyn Paper says it was “famed among turntable enthusiasts as a treasure trove of disco, soul and jazz cuts, with an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 records.” Owner Israel Ben Yahuda had called the shop home and watched his children grow up with the business.
“I went and visited a friend in the Meatpacking District, and went into an old record shop,” Rijuice owner and business associate Cullen Farrell says. “It was amazing, so I asked the lady where she got her records from, knowing that we were trying to start a record shop, and she was like, ‘I can’t tell you who my plug is, but here, take this.’ And it was a newspaper clipping for the guy in Brooklyn, who’d been there for  years, who was shutting down the shop.”
Pohlig continues, “He sent me a picture of the clipping, and I didn’t really think anything of it. And then later that night I was looking at it, and it said that Israel’s Record Shop was just recently in an independent film called ‘Lazarus.’”
And, like the story of Lazarus, Pohlig felt it was a sign that his team should reach out to Yahuda to obtain his collection and give it a second life.
“[Farrell] sent that picture to me on a Saturday, and me and my girlfriend went to Brooklyn that Monday,” Pohlig says. “We visited Israel’s, and I just felt it automatically. It felt more like I wanted to bring the records here in respect of him and what he’s done over the past 25 years, more than make money off of it. We even said that to him when we were pitching the sale, we were like, ‘We really want to take the energy that you put into these records for the past 25 years and just transplant it to Lancaster.’”
From that sale, Pohlig, Santos and Farrell went from the planned 5,000 records to around 23,000 records, packing them all in a U-Haul and bringing them from Brooklyn to Lancaster. In that collection, you’re likely to find albums you wouldn’t normally find in one of the other local record stores; like reggae, hip-hop and funk from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Israel is still involved with the store. “I just emailed him recently, and we’re going to start something called Israel’s picks” Pohlig says. “He’s going to continue sending us stuff, even though he no longer has a shop.”
Yahuda instilled in the team a calm that they wanted present within the shop, according to Pohlig, which is where Farrell and the Rijuice component of Moira’s comes into play. Pohlig had worked at Rijuice before, making Farrell a business associate who works at the shop from time to time.
“I was always in record shops and would always get thirsty or tired. So I thought it would be nice to have that little extra aesthetic,” Pohlig says. “We’re building out the back into a lounge that we’re going to have [in September]. We’re going to have seats, so that even if you just wanted to sit on your laptop and research some of these records and listen to them on the internet before you decide you want that one.”
The team wants you to take your time at Moira’s, which is why the shop has two listening stations. They don’t want you to spend money on a record you don’t like.
“I think the overall experience we want people to have is not just with the records, but everybody who works here is very personable and knows what’s going on,” Pohlig says. “Building that respect, not just with the history of the records, but respect toward what we’re drinking and what we have at our fingertips. Because we’re very fortunate to have all of this.”
Soon, the trio hopes to bring an online service, streaming music from the shop to listeners everywhere each Sunday. Not only that, but Moira’s also wants to become a community staple from the ground up, with involvement in the Boys & Girls Club and after-school programs to teach children about records and music history, planning health talks in the back courtyard, all in addition to being a space for album release parties (such as Cave Paint on Oct. 7) and mindful, sober entertainment.
“I guess we’ve sort of unconsciously made it a sober space, too,” Farrell says. “We want to promote that this is a place that you don’t have to enjoy things on a substance level. We want to have movie nights here, where people are watching a movie and discussing it clear-minded. There’s so much to stimulate you here that you don’t need [substances]. We’re not going to interfere with anyone making their own life decisions, but that’s kind of the way we feel about it.”
“There’s enough places to drink in town,” Pohlig adds. “We wanted to create a space for people who like to take a break every once in a while, or not do it at all.”
Inventory continues to roll in with variety. September promises new punk records spanning the genres existence. Farrell and Santos, an electronic fan and a DJ respectively, hope to wrangle in more house music for the collection, being that Lancaster doesn’t have a huge dance music scene.
“We want to make sure people feel comfortable coming in here, whether it’s spending their money, drinking the juice or just hanging out,” Pohlig says. “You don’t have to give us anything to be here.”