When it comes to buying music in the Greater Wilkes-Barre area, there is no is no shortage of places to trade in your dollars for discs. Or, your discs for dollars for that matter. And if making music is more your style, well, there are also countless places for you to check out the latest Yamaha, Fender or Pearl. From the corner rock shop to local and national retail chains, Wilkes-Barre and Northeast PA has got the music scene covered.
Just Push Play: Buying Music in NEPA
Without a doubt, Joe Nardone’s Gallery of Sound is the local music retail leader with nine locations in and around NEPA. Gallery of Sound opened its first store in 1972, in the then brand new Wyoming Valley Mall. Recently, the Gallery moved out of the mall and opened its newest retail location, an annex, on Mundy Street. Joe Nardone, Sr. attributes his chain’s success to just being community oriented.
“It’s the simple difference between having someone local who knows the local people and market, and can answer a question without having to call their mass merchant on the phone,” he said. “That’s how we’ve done it– by staying local and catering to the local community.”
And, the Gallery has always been a big supporter of local artists, too, which Nardone says is another ingredient to their success story.
“(Local Music) is very important. Many, many bands put out CDs and we sell them for them. The larger chains won’t do that; they’re too big to bother. We put them in and help as much as we can,” he said. Nardone added that every time a local charity puts out a CD to raise money, his stores have always sold them without keeping a dime in profit.
Another thing smaller chains and independent stores can do that bigger stores can’t are special orders. Nardone says this makes a big difference in his customer service, compared to larger retailers.
“One thing that really helps us out is special orders for items you can’t find. This is a big, big part of our business,” he said, adding that larger stores can’t handle an influx of special orders. “We go out of our way to do special orders.”
Nardone adds that in addition to recorded music, his stores also sell DVDs and music related shirts, hats, backpacks and accessories, among many other items. But, it’s the selection of music that perhaps makes them stand out from department store music selections.
“We have what is happening today, but everyone has that. It’s the other stuff that separates us,” he said, commenting on the Gallery’s wide selection of classic rock, like Zepplin and The Doors.
Beyond the chains, there are several main street-type stores– and coincidently, they really are on Main Street– offering new, used and even the obscure and hard-to-find. Think “High Fidelity.” Some of these independent record stores offer other specialties too– comics, movies, games, apparel and more. And, most of these stores in NEPA specialize in buying, selling and trading music and memorabilia, including Wayne’s World in Pittston, Musical Energi in Wilkes-Barre.
A visit to Musical Energi’s website reveals thousands and thousands of CDs in stock, as well as LPs, 45s, 78s, tapes, and even music on reel-to-reel. Perhaps a music collector’s dream haven, there is also lots of memorabilia available including press kits, tour books, posters and more. Musical Energi’s guest book has comments from plenty of surprised and satisfied customers, such as this: ” Thank you for the LP “From the Mars Hotel”. The quality is as good as a CD! And that for a LP of more than 30 years old. I’m very satisfied with it!” And this: “I cannot tell you how surprised I was to find a copy of Vince Parelles record!”
Wayne’s World in Pittston, according to their website, has been open since 1997. Like Musical Energi, they carry a large selection of used music of all formats, and even out of print selections. And, since Wayne’s buys used items, its inventory changes daily, meaning there is always something new to find.
“One of the great ideas we had when we opened our store was to circulate music. You know that CD or tape you bought 2 years ago and haven’t listened to since? We decided to conquer this dilemma by taking trade-in’s! So now you can trade for other stuff maybe other CD’s or whatever!” said Wayne on his About Us page.
Most everything available at Musical Energi is available online, and Wayne’s World’s site has a music store under construction– but there is just something about visiting a store like this in person, scrounging through the racks for a musical gem.
Aside from the locally-owned shops, we can’t ignore the new mall music store FYE or electronic retailers Best Buy and Circuit City who offer good-size music departments. And also the department stores and discount chains Boscov’s, Target, Wal-Mart and Kmart all sell CDs too, but as Nardone elated to, those are likely to have the new and hot, and only the popular classics.
Always wanted to learn to guitar? Just wanna bang on a drum all day? NEPA has many music store offerings, from those that specialize in orchestra and band instruments to corner rock shops, and from bigger superstores specializing in the sale and lease of new equipment to those places you can buy some old time rocker’s used bass.
The Music Store on Mundy Street in Wilkes-Barre has been around for 15 years; it’s sister Stroudsburg location for over 20. Manager Steve Spirko says his store specializes in guitars, drums and amps. The Music Store also sells accessories and does repairs.
“We have a great selection of used guitars that look like new,” said Spirko, who plays guitar and drums. “We are a store run by professional musicians, for musicians.”
Spirko added that his alter ego, Schpaybo recently won 15th place in the a national Billboard World Song Writing Competition for his hard rock song, “Crows Ate My Brain” and in 1995, he won a Z-Rock radio contest for best drummer in the USA.
Another local music store, Music Go Round, is part of a national chain.
“We are a full-service rock store,” said manager and guitar player Harry McDonnell. “We buy and sell used gear, that’s our niche.” McDonnell added that they sell both new and used equipment and accessories as well as take in repairs and provide lessons.
“A lot of the guys that play around here shop here; they are all into the used gear. That’s why people come here. We are very fair about how we buy.”
McDonnell says the local music scene in NEPA is very active, and that seems to be true as so many music stores are in business and doing well.
“We have a pretty active scene, a lot of action. There is a lot of live music, a lot of people playing and making some dollars doing it,” he said.
A glance at the Wyoming Valley Yellow Pages reveals that there are dozen’s of other unique music stores, as Hoffman’s Comics and Music on Main Street in Luzerne which specializes in new and used comic book sales, as well as music instruction and sales. Here is a look at some other places in the area you can get a tune-up, new gear or even take in a lesson:
Andrea Bogusko- Wilkes-Barre Township
Backstage Enterprises- Kingston
B&C Music Studio- Main Street, Pittston
Charles and Mary Music- Scott Street, Wilkes-Barre
Country Music- Shickshinny
DeLuca’s- River Road, Plains
Endless Music- Tunkhannock
Magdon Music- Olyphant
Monkey Music- Duryea
Music Corner- Exeter
National Music Center- Plains
Robert M. Sides- Coal Street, Wilkes-Barre
Rock Street Music- Main Street, Pittston
String Shop- Kingston
Yurish Music- Wyoming Ave., Kingston