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.
J&R Closes its Downtown Music and Electronics Store
Owners Vow to Rebuild as a New 'Retailing Concept'
Wednesday, April 09, 2014 - 08:00 PM
J&R, the legendary Lower Manhattan music and electronics store, is shutting its doors after 43 years in business.
Battered by an increasingly tough climate for music and consumer electronics retailers, the store handed out pink slips to its employees on Wednesday.
Owners Joe and Rachelle Friedman posted an announcement on J&R's website on Wednesday saying that they intend to keep the online store open, while pursuing plans to redevelop the downtown property at One Park Row.
"On April 10th," the statement read, "J&R will close its doors so that we can rebuild this location into what we hope will be an unprecedented retailing concept and social mecca. In order to facilitate this exciting new initiative, the buildings that J&R occupies will be totally reimagined and redeveloped."
The statement is accompanied by a rendering of a glassy new structure with the caption "2015" but it did not make clear what the specific timeline was for the redevelopment.
J&R has been across from City Hall since 1971, when it began as a basement record shop. It expanded into a block-long business, but last year it began closing its storefronts. In recent months, the company has laid off most of its music staff as inventory has been gradually sold off. The classical music store – one of the last of its kind in New York City – closed last year; J&R quietly removed the music store from its website.
Large electronics stores have been plagued by a series of challenges including the trend of customers who look at products in stores and then purchase them at lower prices online.
One former J&R employee, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the store's owners have been pursuing deals with other electronics retailers in the New York area but none has come to fruition.