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The Juilliard Store Gets New Home, New Identity, New Gear

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You won’t find Juilliard undies or foam fingers at the brand new Juilliard Store, but you will find a slew of other hot commodities. After its move in the spring from that “quaint” trailer to its palatial permanent residence on West 66th Street, the store is now open for business. Marcy Davis, director of merchandising services, who joined the Juilliard team after holding marketing positions with the Chicago Bulls and the N.B.A. Fifth Avenue store, says she has plans in place to make the store “as interesting and prestigious and unique as the School itself.” The new store is more than just a typical college book depot; rather, it has morphed into an exciting destination for tourists and current students alike. 

The store offers an expanded selection of T-shirts and other collegiate apparel along with sheet music, books, and CDs.

(Photo by Peter Schaaf)

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The big move from the trailer—where it had been located since April 2007 while the Juilliard building was being renovated—took place during the first week of May. Long hours of planning in March and April paved the way for a smooth transition, and by May 10, the Juilliard Store was ready for customers. A new computer system and additional computers were implemented in order to better track sales and trends, and more space was available for the growing inventory. Strategic planning was also helpful in minimizing the impact of business that was lost during the move. “We also knew we would make up for any revenue lost because of the move, by being in a much bigger and far more visible store,” said Gary Plutko, the general manager. 

Interestingly, the move to such a modern space does not include downsizing ye olde sheet music stock. Tears were shed after last year’s closing of the venerated music store Patelson’s (R.I.P.), and customers wondered if the fate of the Juilliard Store’s music stock would be the same. On the contrary—Juilliard’s status as one of the last remaining sheet music retailers in the city has attracted enough people to merit an increase in titles. Throughout its history, the store has met the needs of music educators, professional performers, amateur musicians, and tourists, all in search of sheet music. While it might be a bit “so five minutes ago” to sell something that is easily available online, Davis said that the Juilliard Store will continue to sell the music as long as sales remain high. 

To further the appeal of the store’s products, select books and scores (chosen by Juilliard faculty) will soon get a Juilliard stamp of approval, in order to aid amateur and student musicians. In the books section, Davis is planning to host book signings with visiting writers and artists, and also expand the selection of dance- and drama-related reads. 

Experienced shoppers will probably notice that the most significant changes have occurred in the store’s apparel and gifts section. “I told Joseph [Polisi], ‘At the end of the day no matter what type of college you are, you still have 18- to 22-year-old young, happening people, and they want to be fashionable,” said Davis, who is also the designer of Juilliard’s hip new “spirit wear.” 

The store’s sartorial offerings, which once consisted of a few sad polos, T-shirts, sweat shirts, and hats, now includes yoga pants, shorts, tie-dyed tees, and a variety of trendy, collegiate hoodies. Shoppers who can’t make it to the store in person will be able to purchase these items from the store’s redesigned Web site, juilliardstore.com. 

Despite the fact that the store is run under the umbrella of an educational institution, its 10 employees have responsibilities that are similar to the duties involved in working at any other retail store. Keeping the space clean and tallying registers are among typical daily tasks. Nonetheless, working at this particular retailer is indeed a unique job. “Being a part of the Juilliard family also presents the Juilliard Store [employees with] great opportunities to interact with faculty, staff, and students, and share in the exciting experience that is The Juilliard School,” said Plutko. 

Another new opportunity for the “Juilliard brand” is a recently signed licensing agreement, which will make it possible for outside companies to use the Juilliard name. Davis explained that one day there may be Juilliard merchandise at Target, or a dance apparel line called Juilliard. This is indeed a big change for the School. And if it’s popular with consumers, some day Juilliard might be in the market for a few more Strads, or even an escalator.

 

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