When asked about buying guitar picks for a friend's birthday, an employee at Marich Music casts a skeptical eye.
"A pick is a very personal thing to a musician. You are better off not guessing and going with something else."
The "something else" turns out to be a foot tambourine, the perfect accessory for the one-man band that doesn't have everything. Wrong gift crisis averted.
This is the secret to the staying power of Marich Music (62 E. Market Street, Corning (607) 936-6044; www.marichmusic.com), for more than forty years. Then-newlyweds Marilyn and Richard "Dick" Puccio combined the first half of their names and began a musical tradition with a location on Denison Parkway.
"We met because of music," Dick says of his wife. "I was going to teach her guitar and she was going to teach me piano. She got her lessons, but I'm still waiting." He still admits he got the better end of the deal in a marriage that has lasted more than four decades. Now on Market Street, the shop carries a huge variety of instruments, music books, and supplies. The customer service and personal attention is unlike anything to be found online, where "one size fits all" reigns supreme.
"We had a music teacher come in with a student and ask about flutes," Dick relates. "They must have tried six or seven instruments before they settled on one. How could you do that online? You can't buy an instrument or an amplifier without trying it. What do you do if you have a problem?"
Marich offers private and group lessons on a wide range of instruments, including piano, guitar, bass, trombone, and fiddle. If you aren't ready to fully commit to one instrument, you can always rent one and try it out first. Coordination with area schools puts the needed instruments and sheet music within comfortable reach. Marich does repairs, too, of instruments as well as microphones and amplifiers. You can even rent audio equipment to make your sound more professional.
Ask for help in Marich Music and you'll learn something in the bargain. When a customer asks about a wireless microphone, the books come out and a lengthy discussion about his needs and preferences ensues. Dick and his crew makes sure customers have what they need for the type of music they play.
The store's devoted clientele have no worries about the immediate future, as another generation of the family, son-in-law Ben Borkowski, who has been onboard two years (and has a degree from Minnesota State University in band and string instrument repair) stands ready to take the baton when Dick and Marilyn step out of the picture. And that is music to the ears.