WILKES-BARRE — Citing technology and the lack of retail stores to attract shoppers, Joe Nardone has closed his downtown store.
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 Lackawanna County, across from the Viewmont Mall.
“I love our downtown,” Nardone said. “But there’s just not enough retail stores to attract shoppers. There are a lot of bars and restaurants, but not many stores.”
Nardone, 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,” Nardone said.
Mayor Tom Leighton said he was sad to see Nardone’s business leave the city, but noted 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.”
Nardone said most cities in the U.S. no longer have record stores.
“It’s a sign of the times,” he said. “Blame it on modern technology. Kids like to download.”
Nardone said gift certificates will be honored at the Mundy Street store.
Nardone 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 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.
Nardone said he and his son, Joe Jr., will continue operating the three stores. Nardone Sr. will promote shows, like his Doo Wop oldies show on March 2 at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts.
There has been one change to the lineup for the show. Nardone said Kenny Vance & The Planotones have been replaced with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.
Other performers will be The Flamingos, Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, Larry Chance & The Earls, and The Paramounts.
“We’re still here,” Nardone said. “I never want to retire.”