J&R Music and Computer World may not be a retailer with which many are familiar, but it’s been a longtime institution in Lower Manhattan. After 43 years of business, owners Joe and Rachelle Friedman this week issued pink slips to all of the retailer’s employees and closed the doors of the block-long technology and music superstore.
The closing of the iconic store illustrates the challenges that consumer electronics retailers are facing in a quickly evolving landscape. In an open letter addressed to its “loyal customers,” the Friedmans pointed to the manner in which that landscape has changed, from the manner in which consumers listen to music to the manner in which they shop. Although the Friedmans did not specify in the open letter what they meant by the “manner” in which consumers shop nowadays, they seem to be alluding to online shopping — so it’s important to note that while J&R has closed its brick-and-mortar stores, the e-commerce site remains in business.
So what happens to the block-long retail space? According to the open letter, the Friedmans are going to “reinvent” themselves, and plan to rebuild the location into what they call “an unprecedented retailing concept and social mecca.” The couple told the New York Daily News a few days before publishing yesterday the open letter on the J&R site that they are in the market for retail partners to redevelop the site. Undoubtedly, the re-envisioned retailing concept will be designed to appeal to students in the nearby Pace University campus.
DNAinfo New York reported that “employees who were locking up for the night Wednesday could be seen hugging on the showroom floor” and “declined to comment as they left.” According to the publication, the Friedmans anticipate opening the new retail space in 2015.