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J&R Adds Retail Space As Web Sales Rise

While lower Manhattan is still feeling the effects of 9/11, J&R Music and Computer World, located a block from Ground Zero, has seen its business rebound thanks to its still burgeoning Web and catalog businesses.

“Lower Manhattan never fully recovered,” observed J&R’s president Rachelle Friedman. “There are 100,000 less employees here now. But the area has picked up. Every day it gets a little better.”

While the area’s economy continues to mend, J&R has been bolstering its CE, small appliance and entertainment software revenue by placing renewed emphasis on its direct sale operations. The company currently prints 2 million catalogs every six weeks, and has leveraged its 30 years’ experience in direct mail and phone order fulfillment to develop its nationally renowned e-commerce site,

The company’s mail order background has helped the online business garner customer praise for its quick deliveries, low prices and responsive service, and earn high rankings from shopper evaluation sites likes

“Unlike other sites, we have our 800 service number right up front so people know how to contact us,” Friedman noted. “We have many service people, and provide many ways for customers to interact with them.”

Also boosting online revenue is an affiliate agreement with that allows J&R to piggyback its offerings on Amazon’s channel-leading site.

Friedman wouldn’t disclose J&R’s Web or mail order revenue, nor the percentage each represents of the company’s $305 million in total sales, except to say that both are “up.”

Despite its emphasis on direct sales, J&R hasn’t forgotten its brick-and-mortar roots. The company recently opened a custom installation/home theater showroom within a residential apartment near Wall Street, will soon open a second storefront for small appliances, and plans to add an additional two floors to its camera store.

More immediately, the company installed a dedicated, 330-square-foot Bose demo room last month to showcase the vendor’s DVD home entertainment systems. “We’re always looking for opportunities with unique or different brands,” Friedman said, pointing to J&R’s origination of the Apple in-store shop concept.

Looking ahead to the coming weeks, and reflecting on her multichannel endeavors, Friedman said she has every reason to be “very optimistic for the holiday selling season.”