To save The Sound Garden in Syracuse, go to college

On my last trip to The Sound Garden I bought this T-shirt for myself and a hip logo on a women's cut for my wife.

On my last trip to The Sound Garden I bought this T-shirt for myself and a hip logo on a women’s cut for my wife.

Listen to the people.

Do not force The Sound Garden to shut down its Armory Square store.

News accounts in the Syracuse morning daily told of a crowd of 50 or so folks that gathered in front of City Hall in support of the record store.

The nub of the matter is an ordinance that would force the store to log in all the used merchandise it buys with police records before selling. Take a walk around the joint, and you see that’s a lot of goods. I call The Sound Garden a record store because that’s what feels right in my generation. We started loving music on the black vinyl that spun round and round, hopefully allowing your worn-out needle to ride the groove and not bounce around too much. In any case, there are plenty of CDs, DVDs and books in the hip store, too. The protest also addressed the 8 p.m. curfew tacked on the ordinance.

I come here today not to bat around the politics.

(Although I will flatly state that the curfew is odd. Teens stay out past 8 these days, folks. And I can hear my parents say: Go ahead, play in that late teen basketball league, it’ll keep you out of trouble. In other words, there are more dangerous places to be than The Sound Garden, for all everybody involved in this civil equation. And, don’t we want teens who’ll grow up to be twentysomethings accustomed to spending time and money in downtown Syracuse?)

Now, about the log-in portion of the ordinance, of which The Sound Garden says will be too time-extensive for its stretched-thin paid staff, I hatch this plan:

Hire college interns, and set up credit-instead-of-wages courses. Establish ties with Syracuse University, Le Moyne College and Onondaga Community College. Extend the invitation to SUNY schools in Cortland and Morrisville and Utica if needed. Go to the business and music programs. Give the students responsibilities that include some of that time-consuming computer work, some sales and some social media marketing.

The students will learn. The Sound Garden can remain open. The community will benefit.

Now that might not work until the fall semester. But let discussions between year-round store and college officials begin now, politicians, to stave off penalties or a closure.

You’re welcome.

11 thoughts on “To save The Sound Garden in Syracuse, go to college

  1. Pingback: A hip-hop past helps solidify Sound Garden’s Syracuse future. | markbialczak

  2. Follow up comment: It’s hard to see the positive side here. If the lawmakers won’t bend, the Soundgarden is in danger of losing a great deal of business. They’ll most likely move and future prospects for this rare enterprise will become disinterested in Syracuse for good.


  3. I like your approach Mark; instead of complaining you are offering solutions. Unfortunately, in order to comply, employees have the burden of database management, identification and security protocol Steve mentioned the other downside of placing traded/used/stolen items on hold for 7 days. That’s inconvenient to say the least.

    As far as labor costs, what about a self-checkout station or kiosk where the “customer” or, in this case, “seller”, “thief”, “suspected possessor of stolen entertainment” enters their personal information and scans or enters the merchandise into the police database? Then a Soundgarden employee would verify ID, merchandise, quantity etc. (customer does the extra work mandated by the ordinance).


    • I like your idea about self-logging-in merchandise, Kevin. We shall see if both sides, the politicians and Sound Garden management, want to find common ground to keep the store in Armory Square.


  4. Time and time again, council shoots itself in the foot in Syracuse. I think they want our city to be as mundane as possible. The curfew is asinine, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room here to save TSG with the ordinance and I can’t blame the business owners believing its simply too much of a hassle. I won’t blame them for packing up and moving to a different city because this ordinance is ridiculous when similar ordinance in other cities have amendments for these types of stores and the system works. This store is a Syracuse STAPLE, its not just some store. This store brings the community together and promotes a positive, safe environment to the area for the younger generations here. When I was in middle school/ high school I felt like TSG was only store worth going to, I love Armory Square and thanks to TSG I had a good reason to go there and enjoy the area that is for the most part filled with bars. I have a good friend who takes the bus to work and has a 40 minute wait between transfers and TSG is where he goes in that down time, which many times is past 8pm. Even with interns doing the logging-in, while an innovative suggestion and I big-time support internship programs, this requires an increase in management that you should be conscious not to underestimate. With this and the hold period it is all too much, TSG isn’t a gold mine, it’s a labor of love and a home to many musicians. I know too well that is a deal breaker. TSG will close and move and many will be devastated. I’ve got a movie the council should watch, its called “Over the Edge.”


    • Hi Kevin, You are so right that The Sound Garden is a good example of the type of store downtown Syracuse needs. It’s a place for the music community, musicians, fans and everything in between. MB


  5. The government should be made to provide the workers and the warehouse space to get an existing business to comply with the update to the ordinance. It’s just compliance with useless rules that will snuff the margins out of business profits. I bet that being forced to pay for their own rulings would change their tune really quickly.


    • Hi Matt, As I replied to Steven T., I’m all for elected officials listening and reacting when members of the community they serve voice reasonable opposition to ordinances. Thanks for commenting. MB


    • Hey Steven T., great to hear from you. Thanks for your thoughts on the problem. They have to come to some sort of compromise. Maybe if TSG gives a bit on the logging portion, the Common Council will give on the hold period. Talk. Listen. Be smart. That’s what the citizens want and deserve. Here’s my wish for a great warm season for Los Blancos! MB


  6. I see what they’re trying to do with the ordinance, but it’s pointless. All it’s going to do is force SG to shut down or move out of the city, taking jobs and money with it. Plus, Syracuse has made the news for drugs, murder, violence (but the media is nice enough not to mention the gang problems we have, cuz that would hurt property values), etc, and they want to concentrate on shutting down a record store? Exactly how does that make sense?


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