For Colony Music Store in NYC, the Song Has Ended; Memories Linger On

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26 Sep 2012

A sign that used to appear at Colony, featuring the iconic cheerleader character, holding aloft a vinyl LP.
A sign that used to appear at Colony, featuring the iconic cheerleader character, holding aloft a vinyl LP.
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Colony, the Times Square-area music store variously referred to as Colony Records, Colony Music or just The Colony since 1948, is now a memory. Owner Richard Turk confirmed that the last day of business was Sept. 16.

When Turk closed the door to the public for the last time after 6 PM that Sunday, on the corner of 49th and Broadway, a crowd of 100 people was there to wish him well. They applauded, he told

"Every 'character store' is gone now," Turk said, lamenting what he sees as the corporate, mall-like quality that pervades Times Square today. He said the closure after 64 years of selling classical, pop and Broadway sheet music and cast recordings (41 years at its present location) was a perfect storm of "technology meets economics." In short, it's easier for records and sheet music to be bought off the internet; brick-and-mortar businesses are not easy to maintain in the high-rent world of Manhattan real estate.

As of Sept. 26, the inventory has been sold off or returned to publishers and record labels, the 5,000-square-foot venue (formerly a bank) has been gutted and the 15 employees have been let go. The exact day that Turk turns the keys over to the landlord is yet to be determined, but it's imminent, he said, adding that since Aug. 23, when The Colony (as he calls it) was first reported to be shuttering, the end has been "a humbling experience."

In recent weeks, hundreds of people — musicians, actors, singers, fans of show music — have stopped by the store to share their memories. He captured more than 100 of their stories on video, possibly for future blog or website posting. An independent company is working on a film documentary about Colony, and Turk said he thinks the store's history and memorabilia would make for a good coffee table book. Political leaders, Tony Award winners, film stars, movie directors and pop music icons (Neil Diamond, among others) have visited Colony over the years.

Woody Allen shot a scene for "Broadway Danny Rose" there, and its exterior was seen in shots for the TV series "Smash." (The store is in famed pop-music mecca The Brill Building, at 1619 Broadway, the lobby of which serves as a location shoot for the Broadway-themed series.) Bette Midler has tweeted about the Colony closing, and Turk said he heard from Tony winners Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone and Alice Ripley, plus singer-actresses Liz Callaway and Ann Hampton Callaway recently.


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