Talking Up Downtown: Rachelle Friedman


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President and co-CEO of J


By Marissa Maier


In addition to her numerous accolades, Rachelle Friedman was recently named No. 30 on Billboard's "Women in Music Power Players List" for 2011. She and her husband, Joe, turned a 500-square-foot music store on Park Row into a 300,000-square-foot, block-long complex selling everything from tablets to flat screen televisions. We sat down with Friedman to get a taste of both her career and J


When did you first notice that change?
It is hard to say. As we became more successful, we were given a little more respect and I was treated differently, but it did take a long time. I sit on many boards, and now there are more than one female on them. There is no longer a token female. It has evolved, but it isn't where it should be.


Originally, what attracted you and Joe to the music and electronics business? And when you started J


In an interview, you attributed J


We wanted our store to not be intimidating so people would feel free to ask questions. We want the sales staff to relish the idea of educating people and to make sure they weren't talking down to them. It was important to have a computer store that females felt comfortable in, too.
On top of that, we really felt it was important to have discounts and competitive prices to give our customers a true value, especially in these times.


Why do you think the digital entertainment and hardware business continues to flourish even in the midst of a hurting economy?
Entertainment is a necessity in good times and in bad, especially in a tough economy. Hardware has come down in price and entertainment software has come down in price. People are communicating with these devices, sharing photos, picking music that becomes the soundtrack of their lives.
Entertainment gives you a good, cozy feeling. People will continue to spend on entertainment, and we have noticed that in every economic downturn.


J


It does seem that the actual store has become a mainstay of the community.
Absolutely, and now as my son came into the business he wanted to do something special and he started J


You work in an industry that is continually evolving and advancing. Are there any new gadgets that you are particularly excited about?
Well, I am excited about everything in our stores, but the big buzz right now is convergence, and a lot of that is connecting the web to television, like the Sony Internet TV or Intel WiDi technology, which allows you to stream content from your computer to your television. It is really exciting that almost everything has WiFi, which allows you to stream anything.





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