NEW HYDE PARK, NY — "Greeks were coming in asking if we had bouzoukis," said Ray Noguera, who with his wife Joan owns and operates the Laconia Music Center in this Long Island city. "So I bought some bouzoukis and strings and no one has come in looking for bouzoukis since."
Noguera explained that his store took its name not from the province in Greece or the city in New Hampshire but from Laconia Avenue, a major tnorth-south thoroughfare in the Bronx, where "three intense cheapskates" first opened the business in 1960. He said that before the decade ended a hurricane left the small frame building in ruin and the business moved first to Queens and in 1986 to its present location in New Hyde Park in Nassau County.
Noguera, who acquired the business in 1991, said he considered changing the name from Laconia, but realized "it was well-known for good or bad, but mostly bad." He recalled a baby boomer who managed a hedge fund came into the store with tarnished saxophone in disrepair, explaining that it was purchased at the store when he played in his high school band. "If we'd changed the name he never would have found us," he said, adding the man paid more than $1,000 to have his instrument restored. "We kept the name and improved the reputation," Noguera remarked.
The store specializes in band instruments for individuals and schools. "We don't sell a lot of electric guitars," Noguera said, "so we never hot chicks coming in." In addition, some 16 teachers offer lesson for students of virtually every instrument.
The Laconia Music Center was voted the best on Long Island by readers of the Long Island Press.
Some years ago a customer brought Noguera a poster from Motorcycle Week in N.H. "There was this hog looking guy on a big black Harley-Davidson and a woman with her breasts hanging out," he said. "What am I going to do with that? Put it up in the store?"
Noguera said that he and his family have vacationed in Maine and may make a detour to visit the City on the Lakes the next time they come to New England.
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