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End Of An Era: Soundtracks Closes

Changing music business leads to slow sales and the end of a 26-year run.

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." 

Meryl Otis Kessler July 04, 2011 at 11:07 PM
Cliff, I will always have fond memories of shopping at Soundtracks, the great music of our generation and the wonderful man who gave so many of us in Huntington this wonderful gift. Thank you! Wishing you all the best, Meryl Otis Kessler
Maria July 05, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Sadly it seems that stores like this close while more restaurants & banks keep opening. When we lived in Huntington my husband & I always loved checking out what "Trax" (as I called it being the Pretty in Pink freak I am) had and they were always extremely helpful helping me find rare items that were even out of circulation.
Mark Groblewski August 02, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Sound Tracks closes July 4th, and the man that brought us all this great sound, from top box office hits, to the mosy obscure - Bob ' the owner ' - suddenly, one month later. loses his long battle with cancer. Bob, Morgan, and Cliff were Huntington fixtures that hung on longer than most national stores, as technology & pirating just pushed these most sought after vendors aside. A very sad statement for the quality of the society that the 'techno-revolution' has produced. Ask your computer to find you that one very rare CD or record --- GOOD LUCK!!! Bob talked about closing it for years. Now Bob is gone. Morgan and family taken aback by the sudden loss of Bob, after the closing, when Bob should have had his time to relax. Go figure! Karma? Who knows? Best wishes to Morgan and family at this time of obvious reflection, as Bob touched many in Huntington over the years. I live in NH now, and I will always remember all of the music that Bob, Cliff, and Morgan helped me find, and introduced me to, as well. These are people who helped shape my core of music appreciation, and I thank them. Whatever journey Bob may be on, after his passing on this planet, I wish that his core essence be take there on the wings, and air, of the flight of song, and music.....as he is carried on his new journey. A prayer of heartfelt song to his family......as Bob's life still echoes in 'sound tracks' in all of us who knw him....... A friend, Mark Groblewski
Ellen December 04, 2012 at 05:02 PM
I worked at Soundtracks when I was in High School. Bob and Cliff were great to work with I am so sad Soundtracks closed, and I am even more sad that Bob passed on. I am glad he is out of pain though. When I worked there, Bob and Cliff were always there, and we are all laughing. Cliff! Still love ya!

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