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Mandolin Bros, Staten Island, A Place that Matters

mandolin brothers staten island new york place matters

Mandolin Bros, at 629 Forest Ave., Staten Island, nominated by Dave Knox.

A modest, brown, nearly windowless building in the heart of Staten Island houses a store which many consider to be the center of the American fretted instrument world. It’s home to the world’s best guitars, banjos, ukuleles, and mandolins. Friends and partners Stan Jay and Harold “Hap” Kuffner founded the place in 1971. Thinking that mandolins could use some publicity, and poking fun at music store owners who name their stores after themselves, Stan and Hap became the Mandolin Bros. Kuffner left, but Jay remains, and moreover, he remains in Staten Island. He’s never been tempted to move. Why? He figures that anyone willing to take subway, ferry, and bus to his location “pre-qualifies” as serious and trustworthy.

The trust component is important. One thing that makes Mandolin Bros. special is that everyone who visits can take down off the wall extremely valuable vintage and new instruments and play to their heart’s content. Customers are also welcome, says Jay, to “ask up to 1 million questions.” That’s what brings customers to Forest Ave. from points literally throughout the world.