New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani took time out from his frenetic schedule last month to pay a visit to an old CE neighbor.
J&R Music and Computer World, a bastion of CE retailing in lower Manhattan for over 30 years, had just reopened its doors after being shuttered by the collapse of the nearby Twin Towers on Sept. 11.
It took six weeks for the block-long complex of specialty stores, located down the street from City Hall, to replace its dust-caked inventory, repair shattered display windows, and clean carpets, ceilings and walls. Now, with the smoking rubble of Ground Zero serving as a backdrop, loyal customers led by Hizzoner returned to J&R, which became a metaphor for Big Apple resiliency.
“I buy all my CDs here,” Guiliani joked during a ribbon cutting ceremony, as he welcomed the CE specialist back to the downtown business scene and praised it for its fortitude in the face of tragedy.
Co-owner Rachelle Friedman said she was touched by the overwhelming support of customers and vendors during the shutdown. “Our loyal customers have a lot of pent-up feeling,” she told TWICE. “They’re sending e-mails thanking us for reopening, and now they’re coming in force to stock up on products they hadn’t bought for six weeks.”
Manufacturers, who congratulated Friedman with more than 50 bouquets, were especially generous. “Every vendor asked ‘What can we do for you?'” she said. “They held inventory aside for us until we were ready to take it, they’re helping us with our payments, and Microsoft held off on giving our Windows XP launch promotion to other retailers. They said, ‘It’s yours, as long as it takes to reopen.'”
Indeed, the ribbon cutting was followed by two hours of “XP Madness,” during which Microsoft staffers answered customer questions and handed out free prizes, giveaways and Sting concert tickets. Later that day, J&R hosted an autograph signing session with anime voice actors to kick off the start of the Big Apple Anime Fest.
“We’re back,” said Friedman, “and business is terrific.”