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J&R Cops Top A/V Kudos

10/04/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK — J&R Music & Computer World has been
named best A/V specialty dealer in TWICE’s annual Excellence
in Retailing Awards, and with good reason: The
privately held company, now nearing 40, has survived cutthroat
competition and even the horrors of 9/11 to become
an institution in the nation’s toughest retail market.

The family-held business was founded in 1971 by Joe and
Rachelle Friedman (the “J” and “R” of J&R), who opened a
record shop on Park Row in lower Manhattan. The company
later expanded into hardware, including A/V, IT, digital
imaging, musical instruments, housewares, and personal
care and health items, and extended its storefronts to form
a block-long emporium by City Hall, which it supplemented
with catalog, phone and online sales.

The stores have become a destination for tourists, celebrities,
politicians and everyday New Yorkers, who are
drawn to their expansive selection, knowledgeable sales
staff, competitive prices and special events, including concerts,
seminars, product expos and autograph signings —
the most recent being last month’s in-store appearance by
singer John Legend.

The loyalty of customers, vendors and New York City was
demonstrated in the wake of 9/11 when the business, located
a block from Ground Zero, was shut for six weeks as
J&R removed dust, repaired a storefront commandeered
by firefighters, and waited for the area to re-open to traffic.
Then-mayor Rudy Giuliani officiated at the grand reopening,
which served as a metaphor for New York’s resiliency. “I
buy all my CDs here,” he quipped, while president/co-CEO
Rachelle Friedman thanked everyone for their overwhelming
support. “Our loyal customers have a lot of pent-up feeling,”
expressed through emails and delayed purchases, she told
TWICE, and manufacturers sent more than 50 bouquets.
“Every vendor asked, ‘What can we do for you?’”

Today, with the exception of a 3,500-square-foot J&R Express
satellite store in Macy’s Herald Square, the company
continues to operate from its Park Row footprint, where it
recently added a same-day delivery service for local customers.
“We have 300,000 square feet of space,” Friedman
said at the time of the Macy’s opening. “It’s hard to duplicate
it elsewhere, and when dealers expand, they lose control.”

To what does the company owe its longevity? “J&R has
always put the interests of their customers first, and we
found that when they are happy they’re loyal,” Friedman
noted. “We always listen to and anticipate what their needs
are, and we are just as passionate about the products and
technologies ourselves. We have always showcased the
best and latest products, and we are an authorized dealer
for whatever we sell. J&R maintains an exceptional level of
customer service with a knowledgeable and friendly staff
eager to help, with special attention given to every detail.”

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