ITHACA, N.Y. — The McNeil Music store is hosting one last jam session before closing its doors for good this month after being in the area since 1951.

Owner Eric Laine announced that the store will close on Jan. 31 back in November.

He said in an interview Wednesday that the main cause for closing has been people’s change in shopping habits.

“The world of retail is changing,” he said. “When I moved to Ithaca 10 years ago, there were six music stores in Ithaca.”

But like other retail business, such as book stores and clothing stores, the music industry has taken a financial hit from online shopping options.

“It’s happening little by little to every retail industry,” he said.

The store first opened in Cortland in 1951 by the McNeil brothers as a piano and organ store. It was located at a few other places over many years, but found a longtime home in the 1980s at Triphammer Mall. Laine took over the business in 2009 and moved it downtown Ithaca in 2012.

The new spot kicked off with in-store performances, so it seems only fitting to close the store the same way.

“We have a large loyal base of of customers,” Laine said, adding that the line between customers and friendship is often blurred.

Over the years, local musicians and hobbyists have jammed in the space and talked about music and the local scene.

The event is for those ‘friends of McNeil Music’ but Laine said the entire community is invited to attend the close out gig.

Booked performers include Stranded with a Kiss, Stereo Ark Sound System, Ithaca Bottom Boys, Park Doing and Friends, Members of Grey Gary and Ithaca All Stars Jam.

The show starts at 5 p.m. Jan. 21 and will go on until the feeling is right.

Laine said the business will continue to lease equipment for events through a new venture called McNeil Music Rentals. He said the rental portion of the store has increased over the past few years and will operate out of a storage unit in Press Bay Alley.

Photos by Jolene Almendarez/ The Ithaca Voice. 

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.