BRICKS & MORTAR: LOVE WHERE YOU LIVE

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Jon Lambert is the owner of the nationally acclaimed indie record shop Princeton Record Exchange. With a website redesign underway and a recently purchased cache of thousands of classical CDs and jazz LPs to add to the 100,000-plus inventory, he has plans to recreate the success of this summer’s PREX-sponsored listening station at the Princeton Public Library in the store this fall “to expose even more folks to the joys of vinyl.”

“I have always loved this town. I moved to Princeton with my family in 1967, when I was five years old. We bought a small house in the Western Section, on Boudinot Street, that had been the governor’s gardener’s cottage when the Morven estate was much larger. The house, built in the 1700s, had been badly damaged by a fire. My father was an artist with a good architectural design sense, and he remodeled it to be an interesting mix of historic and mid-century elements. Later we moved to Wiggins Street, where I lived through my teens. It was great growing up in what was then called the Borough. Everywhere I wanted to go was no more than a bike ride away.

“When I think back to my youth, what usually springs to mind are the summers hanging at the fountain [outside the Woodrow Wilson School]. That’s where my friends would always congregate, and we would while away the long, hot days and nights splashing in the water and playing frisbee. The parks, Carnegie Lake, the Princeton University Art Museum, the Princeton Public Library, the sculptures and cool campus buildings with their gargoyles (I used to climb the facades at night and get chased by proctors) are all still dear to me. When I got a job at Princeton Record Exchange (PREX) 30 years ago, I was delighted to be back in town and still more so when I was able to purchase the store from the founder. It feels great to be such an integral part of the fabric of our town.

“There are some [local] artists who I think are doing amazing stuff: I went to PHS with musician Chris Harford; he’s been making great music with his Band of Changes ever since. I am also a huge fan of Sō Percussion, Princeton’s Ensemble-in-Residence. I love it when the Summer Institute students come and play at the store.

“I have lived in the general area all my life and for the last 15 years in Rocky Hill, with my wife, Cynthia. I think the excellent blend of independent retail stores (of course), top-notch restaurants, the University, and the educated community with its embrace of nature, culture, and the arts makes it a pretty wonderful place.” —As told to Jennifer P. Henderson (photographs by Dan Komoda)