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  • Jennifer White Karp

Book, music and art stores closing point to a drabber NYC

New York – The news on Friday that three venerable retail institutions were shuttering saddened New York City residents. Unlike other waves of store closings typically covered in this space, these stores do not sell home furnishings, but they add something important to the home in terms of color, sound and cultural life.

Friday was the last day that Rizzoli, a beloved bookstore on West 57th Street in Manhattan, was open for business. It was also closing day for J & R Music and Computer World, which occupied an entire block in Lower Manhattan and was known for clerks with impeccable music taste. And word went out on Friday that Pearl Paint, an impressive art supply store on Canal Street, would also be closing soon.

The reasons point to the city’s demand for prime real estate space. Rizzoli’s lease expired and the building’s owners told the bookstore it was going to tear down the building. (A spokeswoman said the store would relocate). A letter posted online by J & R’s management said that the “buildings that J & R occupies have to be totally reimagined and redeveloped.” The building that housed Pearl Paint is on the market and news reports said sales employees have been told to expect layoffs and to sell everything in the store at a discount.

Reaction in the city’s new publications was uniform that the city will be a drabber place without retail institutions that support the arts. No one seemed on hand to cheer that new real estate developments would take their place.

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