Downtown Gallery of Sound closes, but Nardones can’t stop the music

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First Posted: 1/3/2014

Citing technology and the lack of retail stores to attract shoppers, Joe Nardone Sr. has closed the Gallery of Sound in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

Nardone, who opened his first music store in the Wayne Department Store in Edwardsville in 1960, said three stores remain open: Mundy Street, Wilkes-Barre Township; Hazleton, outside the Laurel Mall; and Dickson City, across from the Viewmont Mall. Gift certificates will be honored at the Mundy Street store.

“I love our downtown,” Nardone Sr. commented. “But there’s just not enough retail stores to attract shoppers. There are a lot of bars and restaurants, but not many stores.”

“It was a 10 to 5, Monday to Friday store, and shopping traffic was even light during those hours. Shopping patterns for us shifted away from downtown,” his son, Nardone Jr., added.

“I hate closing a store for any reason.”

Nardone Sr., of Shavertown, said Boscov’s Department Store remains strong, but the attached parking garage keeps shoppers from having to walk outside to South Main Street.

“They never seem to hit the street,” he said, pointing out that most cities in the U.S. no longer have record stores.

“It’s a sign of the times,” he continued. “Blame it on modern technology. Kids like to download.”

“It is an ongoing struggle against the shift in music consumption patterns. The other stores are looking to grow through the expansion of our vinyl selection and increased low-priced catalog music on CD,” Nardone Jr. said.

“You now can own the CD for less than the cost of a download most of the time.”

Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton said he was sad to see the business leave the city, but noted that there are seven more businesses in the downtown in 2013 than there were in 2012.

“It’s sad to see a longtime downtown business like Joe Nardone’s Gallery of Sound leave the city,” Leighton said. “Mr. Nardone and his family have been a pillar in the Wyoming Valley community for years.”

Leighton said Joe Amato has added businesses to the downtown movie theater complex and has plans for more in 2014.

“We have a lot of positive things going on downtown,” Leighton said. “I am optimistic as 2014 begins that we will see much more positive development in the downtown.”

The Nardones confirmed that they will continue operating the three remaining stores into the foreseeable future.

“We continue to acquire lower priced CDs and DVDs to entice ownership of those products,” Nardone Jr. said.

“We continue to expand our selection of new and used vinyl, as it is a huge growth area. We will continue to grow our selection of discounted music-related books, and you will see more music-related gift items returning to the shelves.”

Nardone Jr. believes that record stores can still remain relevant in the digital age.

“Record Store Day and RSD Black Friday and the products that arrive for those two days show that there is still a desire to collect and experience music in a tangible way. The challenge is to make interesting offerings on a weekly basis,” he noted.

“Live music in stores will (also) play an increasingly important role in the development of artists.”

Nardone Sr. began with a record store in the Wayne Department Store on Northampton Street in Edwardsville in 1960. The Thomas P. Saxton Medical Pavilion now stands on that site.

He also had a store on Northampton Street in Wilkes-Barre across from Percy Brown’s Restaurant.

After the 1972 Agnes flood, Nardone Sr. opened a store in the Wyoming Valley Mall. Over the years, he has operated Gallery of Sound stores in the Midtown Village before moving to Provincial Towers. He also had stores in the Gateway Shopping Center, Edwardsville; Dallas Shopping Center; Bloomsburg; Matamoras; and Mount Pocono.

Presently, Nardone Sr. will promote his own shows, like his Doo Wop oldies concert on March 2 at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts.

His “Doo Wop Christmas Spectacular” was postponed from Dec. 14 to March 2 due to a severe winter storm. All ticket holders were advised to hold onto their tickets, and they will be honored in March, he said.

There has been one change to the lineup for the show: Kenny Vance and the Planotones have been replaced with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.

Other performers will be The Flamingos, Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, Larry Chance and the Earls, and The Paramounts.

“We’re still here,” Nardone said. “I never want to retire.”