A Look Back at The Last Unicorn, CNY’s Favorite Indy Record Store
If you're longtime Central New York resident, there's a good chance you still have a CD or vinyl record from the Last Unicorn somewhere in your collection. (I know I do.)
Known for its friendly, knowledgeable staff and impressive assortment of used and hard-to-find selections, the Last Unicorn's memory still shines bright in the mind's eye, even long after its doors have closed.
Many Utica residents recall the $1 vinyl bin, where they either reacquainted themselves with vinyl, or jumped into the vinyl game for the first time.
As for me, I never got into the vinyl game, but I would always browse the store for used CDs, looking for that rare import, the single with the obscure B-sides, or just some random heavy metal disc to blast in my 1998 Chevy Cavalier (Discman with the cassette adapter).
Here's what one former employee told Townsquare Media for an article back in 2012:
We were an independent store... only about 8 of us, working long and dreaded retail hours. But we got first crack at all the new stuff coming in... posters, radio promos, concerts tickets. We had midnight sales for Guns n' Roses Use Your Illusion, Metallica, Pearl Jam and many others. Who else at that time in this area had midnight sales? No one!
The Last Unicorn was first opened by Marc Smith in Herkimer in 1977. It had a few incarnations in a few neighborhoods like Washington Mills, Rome and South Utica. The changing trend of buying music digitally forced the Last Unicorn to close its various locations one by one, until its last location in New Hartford (in the plaza next to Red Lobster) closed in 2007.
During its heyday, several famous musicians made promotional appearances at the Last Unicorn, including Vanilla Ice, Slash and Godsmack.
Maybe it's time to dig out that CD or record that still has the Last Unicorn price tag on it and give it a listen for old time's sake.
What about you-- do you have any fond memories of the Last Unicorn?