New York Daily Photo Analytics

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Welcoming Committee

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 :)


Steffe said...

Not that I need a mandolin, but it's nice to know that there are some friendly people out there if I ever do!

Lisa said...

I absolutely love the composition of the top picture. It is a giant welcome mat for the picture with the smiling gentleman below. Thank you so much for sharing your soul on this blog I truly stop by everyday and enjoy it very much. I loved the city when I was there 10 years ago and didn't get to spend enough time there and your pictures help me get to spend enough time. Thanks again!

Birdman said...

A wonderful portrait captured here.

Beth in NYC said...

I visited this store about 15 years or so years ago. I remember it being quite a unique place, just crammed with instruments. I'd forgotten about until now.

Anonymous said...

Stan, his service and his smile makes me kinda sad.
I wish there were more small business owners like him who were able to survive in today's mega corporate, cost-cutting, retail environment.
It is like a small town, but I remember when this small town aspect of life was not all that unique in the big city as well.
But, that was another time.


B SQUARED said...

I hope they survive for generations to come.

Chuck Pefley said...

I want to visit next time I'm in NY. Thanks. This is a wonderful accolade.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet credits ta navy beans that, this is the place that Joni Mitchell references in her "song for sharon" from her "Hejira" album... singing "I went to Staten Island Sharon to buy myself a mandolin"

ryan said...

Every year when I return to New York (from Berlin, Germany) to spend Christmas with my family, my husband and I always schedule a day for Mandolin Brothers. We have been to guitar shops in Berlin, London and Nashville but none comes even remotely close to MB for selection (nothing but top quality new instruments while their vintage stuff often comes with incredible pedigrees), service and hospitality. My husband has bought two guitars there and if it weren't for budget constraints it would be much, much more. Anyone looking for an string instrument is in the very best of hands. Unlike many other shops, MB doesn't believe in stocking below par instruments.

Brian Dubé said...

Steffe - actually, although they started with mandolins, they carry primarily guitars.

Tim said...

This is one of my favorite guitar stores of all time. Yes, I have to pay a crazy toll bridge fare to get into State Island, but every visit is so worth it.