BUFFALO, NY – A music store in the city’s Riverside section, which has been a neighborhood fixture, will be closing this week after a liquidation sale of its inventory.
The String Shoppe at 524 Ontario Street has sold quality guitars and stringed instruments as well as accessories for several decades.
Most of the thousands of guitars that have been sold here over the years have been of the acoustic variety, according to store owner Ed Taublieb, who founded the business 52 years ago.
“While I don't want to demean those who play electric guitars, a solid body guitar to me has no soul. Only an acoustic guitar with an acoustic body has soul," Taublieb said.
In The Beginning
As young man in 1966, Taublieb didn't initially set out to sell guitars for a living.
He’d having gone to college to earn his degree in geology.
But his career path changed when he went to see a man about trading in the guitar he’d been playing for several years in hopes of finding a better one.
“He said, ‘I'll give you these two instruments for your guitar.’ And I thought to myself that while I really wanted only one of them, I could resell the other.”
That was the start of a business which Taublieb began in his apartment, until he sought to expand the type of guitars he wanted to sell and learned he simply could not do it from his home.
“The sales rep for the company of the guitars I wanted to sell said that as soon as I got an actual brick and mortar store I could be a dealer. So, that’s what resulted in my moving into this building in 1970,” Taublieb recalled.
Over the years, some famous musicians have stopped into his store, including the renowned blind bluesman Reverend Garry Davis, whose style of play would influence famous musicians like Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead.
“It was very interesting because he would actually feel the guitars and - because he was blind -
he’d feel the guitar to sense what condition it was in."
The Times, They Are a Changin’
“The buying requirements from some of the manufacturers became outrageous" said Taublieb, regarding one of the factors influencing his decision to close the store and retire at age 75.
The stocking requirements, he said, are particularly hard for small, independently owned shops like his.
“One of the companies that I bought from wanted me to buy over $20,000 worth of merchandise in the next three months,” he said, describing some of the guitars he’d be required to carry as models, which he knew he could not sell to his clientele.
Internet sales have also impacted brick and mortar stores like his, which is somewhat ironic because having an actual store was something he was required to have just to get into business years ago.
Closing Strikes an Emotional Chord
A liquidation sale of The String Shoppe’s inventory will begin on Thursday.
"Sadly everything must go," said Taublieb, who explained in the next breath why he would not be there during the liquidation.
“Well, first of all the liquidators told me I shouldn’t, and I also told myself not to. It’s just too emotional,” he said.
Like every acoustic guitar which has a soul, this store has become part of his.
“It is,” said Taublieb. “This business is a part of me and truthfully. I’ve enjoyed the friendships of the people who came in to buy something initially and then became very dear friends.”
It is those folks who he says he will miss the most after the doors close permanently.
“There’s gonna be moments when I'm gonna be near tears. I'm sure there will be,” said Taublieb. “I’ve made so many good friends over the years from this business."
Click on the video player to watch our story from reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Bill Boyer.