Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Colony Records, Broadway Music Landmark, to Close
Audio: Co-Owner Richard Turk on Closing after 64 Years
Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 10:45 AM
Colony Records, the famed sheet music and memorabilia store on Broadway at 49th Street in Manhattan, will close its doors after 64 years, the store has confirmed.
Richard Turk, a co-owner of the store, cited the expenses of doing business in Times Square, and the Internet's impact on his industry as reasons for closing. "In the book business, the video business, and the music business, the downloadable aspect is the determining factor of those stores closing," he said. "We've done everything we can to hold the fort for as long as we can and the time has come."
Turk said the store's last day will come sometime in the next six weeks.
Colony is home to one of the largest sheet music collections in the country. Musicians and concertgoers know it as a place to find everything from a “Mary Poppins” score to a Sondheim karaoke recording to a Beatles “Yellow Submarine” alarm clock. Hundreds of pop stars have passed through its doors, including Frank Sinatra, John Lennon, Paul Simon, Michael Jackson and Madonna.
Harold “Nappy” Grossbardt and his partner, Sidney Turk, founded Colony Music Center on 52nd Street and Broadway in 1948. It became a fixture of Tin Pan Alley, New York's music publishing industry, and a drop-in spot for songwriters and music industry people. Specializing in vinyl and sheet music, it was known to carry a lot of the odd and unusual material smaller stores couldn't stock.
Colony underwent a number of expansions, moving in 1971 to its present location in the Brill Building. Famously open until 2 am, it was a haunt for night owls who prowled the area’s jazz clubs and discotheques. Filmmakers including Nora Ephron and Woody Allen sought the store’s help in finding music for their scripts.
As Times Square gentrified in the 1990s, Colony retained its trademark neon sign, although it was removed at the request of the landlord a few years ago.
Grossbardt died in 2001, but the store remained a family-owned enterprise. The founders’ sons, Alan and Michael Grossbardt and Turk, have been co-managers in recent times. Turk said that while the landlord is not "pushing the store out" in any way, renovations are planned to the exterior. "That probably just makes doing business a little more difficult so we're going to probably just pack it in a little earlier than later."
He added, "we hate to do it but we put 64 great years into it."
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