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The Record Theatre chain is hitting the replay button and returning to the City of Buffalo with a new retail music operation.

The Buffalo-based company, which operated what was once labeled the "world's largest record store" at 1800 Main St., will open Record Theatre Outlet at 1700 Main St. later this fall.

Record Theatre founder Leonard Silver said the outlet will be a new format for the long-time music seller, concentrating on the burgeoning market for used CDs, rather than new merchandise.

"Our sales at our three stores are up anywhere from 20 to 30 percent and it's driven by used CDs. We see a real opportunity in opening a store that specializes in high-quality used CDs," Silver said.

Record Theatre, which operates stores in Amherst, Hamburg and Lancaster, currently sells a balance of 75 percent new and 25 percent used CDs and cassettes. Silver estimates 60 percent of the inventory at the new outlet store will be used merchandise.

"A primo used CD is virtually the same as a new one because you only have a beam of light hitting the tracks, it's not like a record needle," he said.

Price is a big selling point, according to Silver. With new CDs selling from $12.99 and up, the previously owned disc priced at between $6.99 and $8.99 is quite a deal.

Record Theatre operated out of its huge store at 1800 Main St. from 1976 through mid-1995, when it sold the flagship store and a store at 5221 Main St. in Amherst to Blockbuster Music. Viacom Inc., which bought out Blockbuster, has since closed both those reformatted Music Plus locations, plus a third store in Cheektowaga.

The Buffalo and Amherst stores remain vacant, while the Cheektowaga building is now home to Starbucks Coffee and will add the area's first Gateway 2000 Country Store.

Record Theatre has retained both its corporate headquarters and a warehouse operation on Main Street. The new outlet will be located in the front of the warehouse.

"I missed being in the city," Silver said. "And if the market for used CDs is as big as it seems, we may find ourselves moving back into the old store down the street to meet the demand."

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