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Niles Flee Market Find

Usually when you hear someone talking about their most recent flee market find, it's some really great piece of audio gear that they just couldn't pass up. My weekend flee market find was this great vinyl shop I didn't know existed.

Last weekend was the Niles flee market. Every year on the last Sunday of August the Niles district of Fremont, California puts on their famous street flee market. Niles was once its own town and is often referred to as the Hollywood of the Bay Area. It was once the home to the Essanay Silent Film Studios which featured silent movie greats like Bronco Billy and for a short time Charlie Chaplin.

Niles is now the home to the Essanay Silent Film Theater and Museum. Each Saturday evening they show classic silent movies, often with live piano accompaniment just like in the old days.

For the flee market the whole downtown is full of vendors and individuals with all sorts of collectibles and odds and ends for sale. The really cool part of the Niles flee market is that it's a community event with the residents selling their treasures on their front lawns.

We showed up early to get a jump on any good deals and began hunting for who knows what. As we turned down one of the side streets I spied a vinyl shop. I visit Niles about 3 times a year, wandering through all of the antique shops looking for unique treasures and I had never seen this shop before.

The shop is named “needle to the groove” and is owned and operated by Dan Bernal aka DJ B.


Dan had an outside space set up for the flee market and the shop was open too. I looked around for a while and there was a really great selection of albums and 45's all divided up by music style. The walls are covered with graffiti murals and Steely Dans Aja was playing on a set of Sansui speakers.

I asked Dan if the shop was new, and to my surprise he said it has been there since 2006 and he has just opened a second store in the Centerville district of Fremont.

I was able to spend some time talking to Dan and it's easy to see that he has a real passion for what he is doing. He told me about how the murals were painted by some well know 'taggers' who are now in their 40's and have a following and reputation for their art. One of the murals was painted by an artist that has also painted a mural in the headquarters of eBay.

Dan talked about how he spends a lot of time traveling around the Bay Area looking at and buying vinyl for the shop. He told me about recent trip across the bay to look at a collection that the seller inherited from a family member. There was over a thousand albums but only a few hundred made it back the shop. Dan is particular about the quality of the vinyl he buys, it has to be in very good condition to make it into the shop. Wore and scratched albums are passed by.

The shop features a wide selection of musical tastes including Rock, Jazz, Funk, Soul and Hip Hop. Many of the shops customers are younger and just getting into vinyl along with cassettes and 8-tracks. Dan said that recently a pair of teenagers spent over an hour looking through his cassettes and leaving with quite a few.

Needle to the groove is the kind of shop that encourages you to stay for a while. Hanging around and getting into the place isn't looked upon as loitering, it's actually is encouraged. Dan offers a cleaning service to it's customers, $1.00 per album done while you shop. He also has a machine which can flatten out warped albums.

While any trip to a flee market can be full or surprises, discovering Needle to the groove was a fantastic surprise. I went away feeling that Dans mission to bring vinyl to his community was a worthy and successful mission.

See all of the Needle in the Groove pictures


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