Times Square Virgin Megastore Will Close; Tourists Will Have to Hunt for Show Tunes

News   Times Square Virgin Megastore Will Close; Tourists Will Have to Hunt for Show Tunes
New York City tourists who are seeking Broadway cast albums, and producers hoping for a place to throw CD release parties, will have a harder hunt after April, when The Times Square Virgin Megastore closes its doors.

Billboard reported the planned closing of the huge multi-media retail store, which is the highest volume music store in the U.S. (it does about $55 million in sales, annually).

Beyond theatrical Times Square-area specialty stores and theatre lobbies, where prices for recordings tend to be marked way up, the Broadway theatre district will no longer have a haven for show-crazy fans to listen to and/or buy cast albums of their favorite musicals.

In August 2007 Virgin Entertainment Group North America was bought by real estate companies Related Cos. and Vornado. Vornado told Reuters that the store would shut down in the first quarter of 2009. The location is a prime site for retail, situated in Times Square, the so-called "crossroads of the world."

Virgin pays only $54 per square-foot; the market value is about $700 a square foot, according to a published report. The 180,000-square-foot retail space inside the Bertelsmann building will reportedly be the site of a Forever 21 store.

The Times Square Virgin location housed many CD release events for Broadway and Off-Broadway cast albums, including album-signings and promotional performances. New York City show fans — like the rest of the music-loving community — are increasingly going online to buy their music. Indeed, the digital music boom (iTunes and other services) and the rise of internet retail (including amazon.com) has helped hasten the disappearance of brick-and-mortar record stores.

A Virgin Megastore location remains in Union Square, on 14th Street.

A closing date of the Times Square location, between 45th and 46th Streets on Broadway, has not been officially announced. Reached by phone Jan. 15, a clerk in the jazz department said the closing was "news to me." The Times Square location has generous hours of operation: 9 AM-1 AM Monday-Thursday, and 9 AM-2 AM Fridays and Saturdays.

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