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Friday, March 20, 2009

Manny's Music To Close - Maybe 48th Street Too

The glorious Manny's Music store on 48th street in New York City will be closing on May 15th at the completion of its lease. Once the largest independent music store in the country, Manny's was the home to countless musicians and a place where stars and bar bands rubbed shoulders to try and buy the latest piece of musical gear.

Although not the same since purchased by rival Sam Ash in 1999, Manny's is still an icon and the entire industry will shed a collective tear when it closes.

But Manny's won't be the only store on that famed part of 48th street to close. General Electric has bought up the entire block that's populated by music stores (NYC's version of "music row") for expansion of Rockefeller Center. Sam Ash's lease expires in another 2 years, and then an era will end.

A couple of Manny's stories:
I remember when I was a kid from the sticks in Pennsylvania, I would go to Manny's wide-eyed because not only did they have the best prices, but the latest gear that you couldn't find anywhere else. Their inventory was enormous as well. They always had whatever you wanted in stock.

I bought a strobe tuner, I think, at Manny's about 6 months prior that wasn't working properly, so I took to back, fully expecting them to send it out for repair, waiting for a long turnaround, then having to plan another 3 hour trip back to the City to pick it up. Henry Goldrich (the owner) happened to wait on me that day. He took my defective tuner and promptly gave me a brand new one, no questions asked. I was so impressed, because that kind of thing just wasn't done at the time, at least in any of the stores I frequented in PA. He never forgot me either, and even though I visited the store infrequently, he would always at least act like he knew me. I didn't buy everything from him afterward, but I always tried to. Henry left a big impression on me.

The other story was when I was a sales manager for Amek consoles in the early 80's. I was there on "official" business and at 6PM the store abruptly shut (they usually waited until all the customers finished their business). Up pulls a limo and Eddie Murphy (at the peak of his Saturday Night Live fame), Joe Piscapo and John Sabastian got out and came into Manny's. Eddie wanted to buy a drum set and Henry kept the store open just for him. I remember talking to Sebastian for about 45 minutes about acoustic guitars before I realized who he was. He turned out to be just a regular guy with no pretensions, as was Piscapo. Murphy was a bit of a jerk, but Henry knew just how to keep big egos in check and eventually a good time was had by all.

There are other stories, but these are the ones that stand out. Manny's, we'll miss you.

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