Tuesday, February 02, 2010
There is no doubt that the ambiance of shops in New York City will not often be like that of the small rural or suburban town. Places where you are spoken to on a first named basis, your preferences are remembered, the owner is on hand, expertise looms large, and people really go the extra mile.
However, I said not often, not nonexistent - I have featured many of these mom and pop establishments in this website over the last four years. You will find this type of place more often in the neighborhood shops in the outer boroughs where, with a few visits, you are treated like a valued regular. I seek them out - the extra level of humanity makes New York City so much more livable.
Do you want that treatment as soon as you walk in the door? Head to the Mandolin Brothers at 629 Forest Avenue in Staten Island.
The accolades for this place, from amateurs and music stars to major media, border on the unbelievable. Things like: "One of the best guitar shops in the world," from The Boston Globe.
I visited here recently because I had been hearing about the place for years. It was immediately clear on entering what all the fuss was about. Walking through the door, I had an experience of the welcoming committee. The shop was extremely well staffed with friendly, knowledgeable sales people at every turn. I was encouraged to hang my coat and peruse and sample the wares by the owner himself, Stan Jay, who started the shop in 1971. The inventory is amazing, and the roster of customers reads like a who's who of music. Read more about them at their website here.
You will find attentive staff at some of the chain stores with, however, two major differences - sales pressure and lack of expertise.
From the Mandolin Brothers website:
Widely known as one of the largest dealers in the world of vintage and new American fretted instruments, we are frequently recommended by Gibson Guitar Corp., Nashville, TN, when they receive inquiries about vintage and used instruments, and also by Martin, Fender, Guild, Gretsch, National, Taylor, Dobro, PRS and many other manufacturers .... We are recommended by many local music stores around the country and by manufacturers, libraries, museums, magazines, search engines and newspaper columnists. In business since 1971, we service the needs of over 225,000 players and collectors of American fretted instruments all over the globe.
Visiting Mandolin Brothers' showroom is like no other retail store experience you have ever had. It's as comfortable as being home, if your home were stocked with many hundreds of exceedingly high quality, original condition fretted instruments. Your questions are answered accurately and completely -- our greatest goal is to educate our customers to the differences between brands, models, styles, woods and appointments, so that they can make up their own minds based on having the information required to do so.
We treat every customer like a friend of the company.
It's all true. Like moving to a small town and getting the welcoming committee :)