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The Candyman Story

The Candyman Story

The Candyman has a long and exciting history dating back to 1969. It’s been an epic ride ever since. From the humble beginnings of a small acoustic guitar shop – to a large home theater, electronics, recorded music and musical instrument store – and back to its roots as a musical instruments store (with a few additions including a music education center, repairs and rentals), The Candyman continues to offer an exceptional experience to the Santa Fe community and New Mexico at large.

We could never have imagined, over 50 years later, The Candyman would come be the most decorated music store in the world, including the distinction of Dealer of the Year, the most widely recognized award of the music instrument industry, competed for globally by thousands of retailers. Today, we owe a huge thanks to our community for joining us on this awesome journey and we hope that you’ll continue to be a part of our story!

How The Candyman Was Named

We're often asked how The Candyman got it's name. We're so fortunate that the original Candyman founder, Matthew Schwartzman, left us this wonderful story. 

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From The Candyman Founder, Matthew Schwartzman

Over my many years in Santa Fe, the question I am asked most is, “How did you choose the name “The Candyman?” Here’s how.


Back in the sixties, there was a great renaissance in traditional American folk music from which came so many of the great musician-songwriters with whom we are so familiar today. Among the many icons that proceeded them were two extraordinary guitarist-songsters: Reverend Gary Davis and Mississippi John Hurt. Both shared something in common; each wrote a finger-picking masterpiece called, “The Candyman.”


I had the rare opportunity to hear the ‘Blind Reverend Gary Davis’ as we called him in New York, sing “The Candyman” at the legendary Folklore Center owned by my colleague, Izzy Young, who did so much to promote this art form. Even though I never saw Mississippi John Hurt perform, my guitar teacher, Eddie Joe Hicks, traded licks with him while both were performing in Washington, D.C.

“I’m the man that has the candy, I’m your Yankee Doodle Dandy,” sang George M. Cohen in the classic film by the same name in the South at the turn of the century. “The Candyman” was the man about town who had everything; not just the drugs (which is inaccurately assumed) but he was the ladies’ man, the sporting man, and the man to whom you would most likely turn to spend some time with because he had the best songs and stories to be sung and told. This term has been in the American vernacular for many generations.


When I traveled across the country in 1969 to open an acoustic guitar shop and finally – and fortunately – arrived in Santa Fe, I called it 'The Candyman,' of course."

The Candyman Strings & Things - est. 1969
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