Sound Garden on the move

Music store has new digs too - right around the block - still in Armory Square:

Upon entering Syracuse's The Sound Garden one of the first visible images is a four-foot tall poster of iconic country singer Johnny Cash flashing his middle finger.

This is an appropriate visual summation of the record store's attitude toward the current trends in the music industry that could potentially threaten their existence.

Earlier this month Nielsen Soundscan reported that physical CD sales dropped approximately 16 present while digital sales rose 34 percent since this time last year.

Major retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart, known in the industry as "big box" stores, have reduced their shelf space for CDs. In 2006 Tower Records, a once powerful and successful record store chain, went out of business. In 2007 Virgin had to close one of its more popular Megastores on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood, Calif., citing that 40 percent of the company's revenue comes from music sales whereas it was 70 percent four years ago. These trends have been felt more locally as The Sound Garden closed down their Geneseo location and Buffalo's New World Record closed in April.

These statistics do not favor independent record stores like The Sound Garden, but they are taking measures to fight back.

"Basically, you just need to have a huge collection," Ron Cicoria, The Sound Garden's manager, said.

Since The Sound Garden is now the only independent record store in Syracuse, Cicoria says they have become a specialty store as much as a record store. The store has two floors full of new and used DVDs, CDs, vinyl records and assorted memorabilia. Cicoria said that the used section accounts for a significant chunk of their revenue and consumer-friendly price reductions are also a major factor. For example, The Sound Garden offers season two of the TV show "Arrested Development" for $19.99, while Best Buy charges $32.99. In regards to these markdowns Cicoria said, "sometimes you just have to take the hit to stay competitive."

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