Like Tchaikovsky, the end came with a bittersweet finale.
But unlike the Russian master who mysteriously died nine days after the premier of his Sixth Symphony in 1893, it took 26 years for the premeditated end to this Huntington landmark.
Since 1985, Soundtracks record store has been a place to mingle, make friends — and most importantly— buy music on New York Avenue. It flourished as CD sales soured ahead of albums in the mid 80s and began to fade with the emergence of music downloads. A slight resurgence in vinyl sales helped to keep the store going in recent years, but on Friday it closed for good.
"It's not about the amount of money that you made, it's about what you meant to people," said longtime manager Cliff Fenster, as a melancholy Louis Armstrong tune played through the speakers like other hits of the past.
While finishing up the last few hours of a run that lasted as long as the store itself, Fenster said the response from people in the days leading up to Friday has been touching and warm.
"Customers are coming in and they are really making you feel like the store has been an important part of their lives, and if you did that, that's a success," said Fenster, who planned on sharing some champaign with staff members after the 7 p.m. closing time to celebrate and reflect.
Throughout the store Friday, the sentiment was bittersweet and heartfelt with a lots of hugs, kisses, gifts, thank you's being exchanged between staff and loyal customers who said Soundtracks was more than music or dollars — it was a way of life that will be hard to replace.
"It's these things that make the town what it is," said Dylan Skolnik, who came to for more than two decades buy music, hang out and make friends.
Despite a loyal customer fan base, profit margins began to decline as online sales spiked in a relatively short period of time.
According to CNN report, in 2007 CDs accounted for 90 percent of album sales in the U.S., with digital accounting for the other 10 percent. Just two years later, that number had shifted to 79 percent CDs and 20 percent digital, with the remaining percentage point being made up of vinyl and other media.
Many onhand for the final day of business said the closing was a great loss for Huntington. One regular patron said customer service and first-hand knowledge of store employees will never be matched by chain stores and especially computer sales. She said wished the town would have shown more support for the unique business, but it was good while it lasted.
"It's sad when a town that is noted for being hip and artsy can't support a record store," said Suzanne Zoubeck, who first visited the store ore than two decades ago. "But 26 years is a long time."