Buying Classical Recordings in New York – the Shrinking of J&R

I know that the world is shifting towards electronic commerce for buying classical recordings — or, in some cases, just access to classical recordings for streaming — but I'm "old fashioned" – I like the physical product and higher fidelity of physical compact discs, and I like to be able to browse, look at album covers, compare available recordings, etc..  For which one really needs a physical store. 

When I first moved to NYC in 1977, the city was a paradise for somebody who liked to buy classical Lps – there was The Record Hunter, King Karol, Sam Goody, Four Continents to buy rare imported Melodiya discs from the Soviet Union….  and then, of course, there was J&R Music down on Beekman Street, packed into three stories of a slender building with opera maven Kenn Harris presiding in his basement opera domain.  Although I patronized all these places, J&R became my main source for new classical recordings.

Over the years the J&R empire expanded around the corner to Park Row and expanded thematically to include all kinds of recordings, DVDs, audio equipment, computers, etc.  New competitors on the classical scene came and went — HMV, Tower Records — but J&R's classical department continued to be an excellent source.  After Tower went bankrupt and HMV folded its tents, the J&R classical department even expanded, and in recent years it has been the biggest and best resource for the classical CD and DVD buyer. 

But the handwriting is on the wall.  They are busy thinning out the classical stock anticipating a move to smaller quarters.  While this means a current all-label sale with bargain prices, it also means that J&R's classical department is going to shrink substantially, leaving NYC without a substantial source for in-person shopping for classical CDs and DVDs.  This is undoubtedly an appropriate business response to the shift of most classical business on-line.  I've tried to pay regular visits to J&R and to refrain from ordering on-line things that I expect to find there, but I can see that the days of pleasant browsing through extensive physical stock are coming to an end.  And I can mourn, as a customer for the past 35 years. . .

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