Reminiscing at Bensonhurst’s Last Italian Record Store

In addition to Italian records, goods imported from Italy can be found at S.A.S. Italian Records. (Photo by Paul Frangipane via Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

For 21 years, Silvana Conte, 62, and her younger brother have been running S.A.S. Italian Records after their father retired. The music shop is now the last of its kind in Bensonhurst, a neighborhood once home to a thriving Italian community. These days, S.A.S. sometimes makes $35 on a weekday, a far cry from decades past when the store served as a meeting place for Italians and even expanded its wares to include imported Italian-made pasta makers and espresso machines. Some of those goods can still be found on S.A.S.’s shelves.

Paul Frangipane writes in Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

S.A.S. stands for Silvana, Adrianne and Silverio, the three children of founders Ciro and Rita Conte. Since opening under the name in 1967, S.A.S. has been a niche in Bensonhurst, blasting Neapolitan pop onto 18th Avenue and supplying a vibrant Italian community with a link to its home country through melodies and gifts.

Ciro Conte moved from the island of Ponza, Italy to the Bronx around the late 1940s, where he opened an Italian luncheonette before making the transition to Brooklyn.

When he arrived, Bensonhurst boasted a booming Italian population. But for years after, as other immigrant groups began moving in, Italians steadily left for places like Staten Island, according to Jerome Krase, emeritus professor at Brooklyn College. Bensonhurst now holds one of Brooklyn’s largest Asian populations.

Given the new demographics and changing technology, Conte is conflicted about keeping the store open but one person keeps her going. Find out who that is, and read more on the vibrant history of S.A.S., at Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

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