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Record Theatre store up for sale When it debuted in 1976, it was said to be the biggest music store on Earth

The Record Theatre store at Main Street and Lafayette Avenue in Buffalo, once billed as "the world's largest" music store, is up for sale.

Owner Leonard Silver said overhead and upkeep costs for the 25,000-square-foot store are growing, while sales of CDs and old-fashioned vinyl are dwindling.

"The record business is not good and a store that big doesn't make a lot of sense anymore," Silver said. "The building is on the market, but we'll stay open for now."

The Prudential CRES Commercial Real Estate listing for the property doesn't include an asking price, but Silver said he thinks its worth around $1 million.

"It's an incredible spot, one of the best locations in Buffalo. It has a lot of potential for development," Silver said. "I'm not interested in redeveloping it at this point in my life."

He said he'd also consider leasing the building if a long-term tenant came along.

The nearly one-acre property is located across the street from the Canisius College campus, a few blocks from Sisters Hospital, and the Scajaquada and Kensington expressways.

When it debuted in 1976, the cavernous record store, located in a former Ford Motor Co. showroom, was said to be the biggest music store on the planet. The big, quirky store won over a generation of area music lovers, offering everything from the Beatles to Bach.

It also carved its own niche by rewarding customers with a Green Stamp-like program that led to discounts and free merchandise. It also drew crowds with in-store appearances by recording artists, several of whom left cement footprints behind which were put on display.

Record Theatre dominated the market into the 1990s, when the Media Play chain opened three "big box" outlets and challenged Silver and company with a combination of music, videos and books.

In 1995, Silver sold the flagship store's business to Blockbuster Music, which abandoned the site after it was acquired by Viacom, which shutdown the music division. The building sat idle for several years until Silver decided to reopen the site as Record Theatre in 2004.

The music industry veteran is no stranger to the shrinking popularity of traditional music stores. At one time he operated a stable of 10 Record Theatre stores, a list that shrunk to five as of last week when he shuttered a store in downtown Rochester.

Now 80, he said he'll continue to focus on the remaining Record Theatre stores and his Transcontinent and Amherst record labels.


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