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Jon Lambert, owner of Princeton Record Exchange

Jon Lambert, owner of Princeton Record Exchange

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

In collaboration with Kaneshii Vinyl Press

Who are you and your current job : 

I am Jon Lambert, owner of Princeton Record Exchange. I started out in a mall chain record store in the early 80’s and managed several music retail locations for the next couple of years. I joined the staff here in 1989 as a clerk, worked into management fairly quickly, was general manager for 12 years, and bought the store from the founder in 2015. I love music, and I love customer service, so it’s a good fit!

In which city are you located? 

Princeton, NJ, USA

What musical styles do you specialize in?

Being a fairly large store at 4,500 sq. ft, and loving all sorts of music, we have the luxury of not specializing in any particular genre. Our biggest sellers are rock and jazz, but we like it all!

Can you give a small tour of the music scene in your town?

Fairly non-existent. We are an hour away from NYC and Philly, so that’s where the real action is as far as performances go. However, we have a great regional venue, McCarter Theatre, which features concerts along with plays and other events (I am seeing the great Eddie Palmieri there next week). There are also a few bars in the area that showcase local musicians 

What’s it like working in a record shop?

Pretty awesome! We are fortunate to have a huge flow of titles flowing through, roughly 35,000 each month, so not only do we have the pleasure of being immersed in music all day, we are constantly exposed to records we’ve never seen before: every day is a new adventure. Brought together by our shared passions, there is a real feeling of family between the staff and our loyal customers. 

What mind-blowing album are you listing right now?

Gilberto Gil’s self-titled record from 1969. I’ve been in a heavy tropicalia groove lately! 

What does it take for an indie record shop to survive?

I could write a book on all takes….it’s complicated! But to distill it down, I think the main thing is to create a space that is warm, welcoming, and human in which all who love music feel comfortable. The internet is a cold and sterile place, and we try to emphasize the tactile, sensorial joys of a real brick-and-mortar store. You can look at a picture of the ocean, and it’s pretty, or you can jump in, and it’s exhilarating! 

From a practical perspective, we take pride in our huge, ever-changing selection, our quality control, and our low prices.

Tips for musicians launching an album? 

Make the music you love, because if it’s not sincere, it’s not going to work. Other than that, good luck! It’s tough out there.

5 local musician/bands to check out!

Chris Harford


West Jersey Airport


Dharmasoul |

Princeton [NJ] city guide  x  Jon Lambert

 Café | Mistral, nicely prepared small plates

Restaurant | Two-Sevens, Mexican and Central American goodies

Shopping | Labyrinth, great indie bookstore around the corner from us


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