Not only is J&R Music World coming back, but it's returning sooner than anyone thought.
In October, J&R will launch as a store-within-a-store inside Century 21's flagship, located across the way from the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan. The store closed its doors this past April.
J&R Music and Computer World co-founder Rachelle Friedman tells Billboard that the store-within-a-store, J&R Express, will be 1,500 square feet and stocked with audio and video hardware, computers and other gadgets, as well as a music and movie selection. What's more, she says the store will carry vinyl.
"I will be in charge of the music department because that's where my heart is," Friedman tells Billboard. She adds that Century 21 will provide a space for in-store performances, which J&R will curate. And she says J&R will soon locate in other Century 21 locations, where it makes sense.
J&R, which opened in 1971, was Manhattan's first music superstore and it was also its last music super store, shutting down earlier this year. When it first opened, it occupied a storefront on Park Row, across the street from City Hall. The store eventually expanded to take over most of Park Row, with 10 different stores in as many as four buildings. While it began as a stereo component and record store, it soon offered computer products, camera's phones and all kinds of consumer electronics. At its peak, J&R was said to be doing $350 million to $400 million a year, while its record store and mail order were doing around $20 million a year.
Friedman says Century 21 is the perfect place for J&R to open because of all the cross traffic that existed in the past. "We would always see customers with Century 21 bags in our store; and if you went to their store you would see their customers carrying J&R bags," she says. "We always had a great relationship with Century 21. After 9/11, we were on many of the same neighborhood boards together," and this concept grew out of that relationship.
“While we are redeveloping the block and planning the future of Park Row we wanted to answer the demand and outcry of support for J&R to remain a fixture of Lower Manhattan," Friedman said in a statement. "We thought of no better way than partnering with what former Mayor Rudy Giuliani after 9/11 called our fellow ‘Anchor of Downtown retail’ -- Century 21.
J&R already has experience of operating a store-within-a-store because it handled such an operation from 2006-2012 inside Macy's on 34th Street.
“As a fellow lower Manhattan retailer, we've always been familiar with and appreciated all J&R has done for our neighborhood.” Century 21 Department Store CEO Raymond Gindi said in a statement. “We’re honored to bring on New York City’s iconic electronics retailer as part of our Century 21 family and look forward to expanding our partnership to other areas of Manhattan.”