By Morgan Walters
Karl Groeger Sr. opened Looney Tunes in West Babylon 45 years ago, in August of 1971. The store began selling vinyl records and now offers CDs, jewelry and clothing, in addition to in-store performances and autograph sessions. Family-owned, Looney Tunes was handed down from Groeger to his sons, Karl Groeger Jr. and Jamie Groeger.
The main focus of the store owners is their relationship with customers. Karl Jr. tells a story about being invited to the funeral of a lifelong customer. Upon attending the funeral, he discovered the deceased in an open coffin sporting a Looney Tunes T-shirt.
Karl Jr. speaks fondly of meeting the children and grandchildren of loyal customers, and enjoys knowing that the store hasn’t only been passed through the generations of his family, but the families of Long Island. The relationship between customers and staff is what makes this store different from the big franchises, and why their customers aren’t buying music online.
Karl Jr. said, “[My] favorite part about running Looney Tunes still is introducing people to new music.”
The one-on-one experience that customers get is what keeps them loyal. In 2007, Looney Tunes faced a crisis that would close most other small businesses forever. A faulty extension cord started a fire that destroyed more than 90 percent of the store. After the fire, the family decided they could not let their staff be unemployed. They committed themselves to reopening.
After working tirelessly for just 90 days, they completely rebuilt the store. On opening day, the staff and owners were amazed to see a line of customers stretch down the block, waiting for the doors to open. This moment is Karl Jr.’s proudest moment at Looney Tunes.
The Groeger family works hard to give back to their customers and community. They contribute to charities throughout the year, as well as helping local bands by introducing them to important people in the music industry. They give these local bands a place to play their music, and help them spread their music by recommending them to their customers.
According to Karl Jr., the store constantly changes to fit their customers’ needs, but the biggest change they’ve made is the addition of the Brookvale Records label. They obtain music rights and re-release songs on vinyl while working under Sony Records. Karl Jr. felt a need for this business based on the resurgence of interest in vinyl that he saw from his customers. Some of the bands featured are Taking Back Sunday, The Grateful Dead, Blues Traveler, and Maroon 5.
As a thank-you to their regular customers, they offer two different rewards programs. The first program, started in 1971, is a punch card that gets marked for every CD purchased and after 20 CDs the customer will receive one free. The second is a VIP program. Customers pay $20 a year to receive 20 percent off CDs/vinyl and after 20 items purchased they receive a $15 gift certificate.
Looney Tunes, located at 31 Brookvale Ave. in West Babylon, is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Check out their website (www.ltcds.com) or call 631-587-7722 for information about events and performances.
—Morgan Walters is a professional communications major at Farmingdale State College