Guitarists searching for the best Fender experience possible routinely have their expectations completely blown away when visiting the Music Zoo, one of the East Coast’s premier Fender instrument and amplifier dealers. The acclaimed retailer’s brand-new home in Roslyn, N.Y., was built specifically to show what’s possible in a 21st century guitar store, and is truly an amazing place.
The exterior is a scene of tranquility on the northwestern shores of Long Island, with a gentle current from nearby Hempstead harbor carrying swans beneath the Roslyn viaduct toward Roslyn pond. And if you didn’t already know it, you’d never guess that inside the converted 1950s-era industrial steel-and-concrete building there resides one of the world’s most impressive selections of guitars, amps, pedals and effects in a hip, upscale environment that feels more like a smart, Americana-tinged Apple store than the old-school music shops many guitarists might remember growing up with.
The future is indeed here. A computer kiosk in the split-level showroom provides photos and descriptions of more than 2,000 guitars housed there on the premises—so many, in fact, that only the “greatest hits” adorn the wall displays. These prominently feature the Music Zoo’s ultra-exclusive Masterbuilt Ultimate Relic Stratocaster guitars, “NoNeck” Stratocaster models and the latest and greatest limited edition Fender Custom Shop creations. On display or otherwise, any Fender model in stock can be brought to the customer for a test drive.
“It’s a very 21st century concept,” said Music Zoo founder and owner Tommy Colletti.
That concept came full circle in the brick-and-mortar store as a result of the success of the Music Zoo’s leading-edge website (www.themusiczoo.com), which was highly lauded for providing an innovative and compelling high-end online experience. The new store reflects the upscale feel originally conceived on the website and, as Colletti noted, shows how the business “had changed from a conventional retail store to a base for our online business.”
“But it was also our chance to get away from the slat-wall and fluorescent lighting that you find in every other guitar store in the world,” he added. “Musicians are quirky and artistic. If you put them in an environment that looks like Staples, I don’t expect them to respond.”
Fender prominently figures into that thinking; playing a key role in the interior look of the store with cool touches such as vintage gas pump replicas made into display cases, branded couches and tables, and large-format guitar photography adorning the walls. It makes for a friendly and inviting environment that is both comfortable and cool, in which customers feel like they have the time and space they need to check out the guitars in their own way. The highly knowledgeable staff is helpful, and they’ll also leave customers alone in the amp room to rock out, too, if that’s what they prefer.
Consequently, customers shopping for Fender feel right at home at the Music Zoo—they have a great experience that is by design most enjoyable.
“You’d think the world’s largest manufacturer of musical instruments would be too big; too hard to deal with,” said Music Zoo general manager Tim Reynolds. “They’re not. We’ve always been able to get the right guy on the phone; speak directly to the builders; go right into the factories and even confer with top executives on building our business as a Fender dealer. Fender puts the product first, and that translates through us to the customer.”