Music Inn Shop Owner Jeff Slatnick Restoring Old Instruments To Pay Bills, Hosting Sidewalk Open Mic Nights To Give Musicians A Stage

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The coronavirus pandemic is taking a huge toll on businesses in New York with shops closing by the week.

Those still open are trying to adapt. CBS2’s Ali Bauman stopped by one of the oldest music shops in New York to see how they’re keeping the beat alive.

Every inch of the Music Inn in Greenwich Village is covered in instruments or records. (Credit: CBS2)

Tucked away in Greenwich Village, you’ll find the Music Inn, where every inch of space is filled with an instrument or record.

Shop owner Jeff Slatnick showed CBS2 one room where they just have wind instruments.

“How many different types of instruments do you have in here?” Bauman asked.

“Oh, I dunno. As many as there are countries in the world and then add five more for each one,” Slatnick said.

The Music Inn has been in Greenwich Village for 62 years.

“Bob Dylan was in the neighborhood. He lived down the block and liked hanging around because there were so many good guitars,” Slatnick said.

“I’ve met a lot of nice people here. Paul Simon, Cyndi Lauper,” customer Chuck Nitty said. “They come in to buy unique instruments, I guess for unique sounds.”

But like most stores, when the pandemic hit, Slatnick had to close up.

“Now I have to pay the state the sales tax from June, July and August,” he said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

One way he’s been able to pay the bills since reopening is by restoring people’s old instruments that were collecting dust in their apartments.

“The skin had gotten so dry,” Slatnick said, showing Bauman an instrument he’s working on. “I would imagine it was a COVID thing, that she looked in the house and she had three exotic instruments and said, they’re just sitting here, all kind of broken down.”

Before the pandemic, the Music Inn would have open mic shows at the shop every week. But even though the store is back open now, the space isn’t big enough for an audience to socially distance.

The Music Inn hosts open mic nights outside the store during the coronavirus pandemic. (Credit: CBS2)

“Then the idea came, why not do something outside?” Slatnick said.

Friday was the Music Inn’s second sidewalk show. They’re not making any money from it, but outside, the music has an even greater reach.

“I know so many musicians … so it’s just kind nice to just get them to do it. I can’t get people to pay them, I can’t pay them, but it’s nice to get them out and playing,” Slatnick said.

Giving musicians an instrument, a stage and a community.

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