Oh no! Patelson’s!

The legendary NYC print music store is closing. I’d add, “a victim of the Depression”, but the rot has apparently been growing since Joe Patelson died. I went there during my one trip to NYC in 1996, and found it “good but not godlike”, and actually spent more at the Carl Fischer store in the Village (gig music for brass quartet, mostly). But I was assistant manager of the CMSS Music Shop during the early 90s, and “You’re almost as good as Patelson’s” was the compliment we would often hear.

Actually, the downfall of the CMSS shop and Patelson’s are eerily similar. Bad management drove off a key experienced employee in each case. In the Cleveland case, the experienced employee (Ruth Lamm) went to the Cleveland Institute of Music and started a store there, skimming the cream off the business (I suspect that the Juilliard store had a similar effect on Patelson’s). Particularly after I left. the used music business was de-emphasized, and that was what made the store unique. The hardy DOS sales and inventory system was replaced by a slow and clunky Windows system. Add to this the copying/downloading/Internet sales problem that all print music outlets have had, and it was a recipe for failure.

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