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.

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Comments [10]

Vince from Tribeca, Manhattan

I first started going to J&R Music World...the ORIGINAL J&R Music World back in 1975; when it was ONLY a narrow, ground floor storefront. It sold audio equipment on the ground floor---some of which was up on the shelves. Then the steps down to the basement, led to their albums bins. At that time, that's ALL they sold. TV's and some other stuff were NOT a part of their inventory at the time. And didn't become a factor until the MASSIVE EXPANSION at that initial location that added a 2nd floor.

Apr. 20 2014 12:37 AM
Ron Prager from Queens

Regarding J&R closing: Having worked at J&R for 7 years, I got to see the inside workings of a poorly run and managed store. Its owner, Joe Friedman, micromanaged the phone center in Maspeth with a very heavy hand. He was disliked by all and worker suspensions by his command were liberally administered, far in excess of the worker's transgressions. Minor infractions were given up to a 2 week suspension and you always feared for your job. As far as the quality of the merchandise, many items were "returns" having been used heavily during the 30 day return period, or many times, not USA warranted merchandise (sometimes they had European power cords and specifications). While I can't attest to J&R's thievery from its sales staff, it was a very opaque process of accounting for all of ones sales commissions, and there were times when, conveniently, "spiffs" (cash bonuses on sold merchandise) were missing from workers' paychecks.

Apr. 11 2014 09:14 AM
J Casillo from QUeens

Businesses all have a beginning and an end. But why have we created a business environment where others will find it risky to start up there own new store? A great loss of jobs, business and reason for many to come to Manhattan to shop.

Apr. 11 2014 07:35 AM
alberto jabur from Brazil

It´s the end of an era, unfortunatelly. The first store I visited every trip to NYC. As many brazilians, I´ll miss J&R.

Apr. 10 2014 06:48 PM
David from Flushing

The abruptness of the closing seems to bode ill for the survival of the store. I will miss them.

Apr. 10 2014 04:28 PM

How sad! I agree with each of the comments so far offered about the passing of J&R Records. It was an incredibly wonderful place to shop for and buy classical, jazz and other types of recordings. Online shopping may be the thing for the younger set, but I feel lucky to have been around early enough to enjoy the ability to walk into a store, see the recordings, look at their content and be offered advice from store clerks who could steer me away from poorer versions of works towards other better offerings. And the store clerks so often really knew their stuff and could explain why choosing one over the other was preferable. Despite whatever reviews Amazon, online Tower and (now) online J&R may have, having in-person insight is invaluable. In this case newer is NOT better.

RIP J&R (and RIP Tower).

Apr. 10 2014 10:58 AM
Al Luna from Bronx NY

Too sad. In their web site they say "it's rebuilding" but I don't see them coming back. Maybe as a online business, but why compete with Amazon? And the only reason I use Amazon these days, is because all of my favorite stores for classical music have closed. Academy Records have a mostly used inventory, and don't always have new releases.

Apr. 10 2014 10:44 AM
Lutonya from Westchester

So sad. I loved that I could find the most obscure blues records here. And go next door and get expert advice on the latest didtal camera.

Apr. 10 2014 09:22 AM
SL from Manhattan

Really disheartening.

Apr. 10 2014 08:25 AM
Bernie from UWS

So sad. I used to shop here regularly on my lunch hour. The employees were curmudgeonly at times but they knew their stuff. I remember one nice man in the classical department who steered me towards the Bernstein Shostakovich 7 recording over one by Lorin Maazel. The best advice I could ever get!

Apr. 10 2014 06:05 AM

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