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The Candyman
History & Legacy

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About The Candyman

The Largest Music Store and Education Center in New Mexico
Named NAMM's Dealer of the Year, a prestigious one-time award given to the top global music retailer!


The Candyman Strings & Things is a premier full-line music store and community hub located in Santa Fe, NM. The store offers a wide range of musical instruments and accessories for everyone from families to professional musicians. Additionally, The Candyman serves as a music education center offering private lessons, group classes, and workshops in a variety of instruments and music styles.

The store's commitment to customer service extends beyond its in-person offerings, with repairs, commercial sound installation, and instrument rental services available for those in need. 

At its core, The Candyman is a welcoming and inclusive space that fosters a love and appreciation for music in all its forms. The store's commitment to music education and community-building has made it a beloved institution in Santa Fe and beyond.


The Candyman History & Legacy

The Candyman legacy includes a rich and storied history opening its doors in 1969 as a humble acoustic guitar – to a large home theater, electronics, recorded music and musical instrument store in 1984 – and back to its roots as a musical instruments store (with a few additions including a music education center, repairs, and rentals) in 2009.
This photos shows the empty lot at 851 St. Michael's Drive prior to The Candyman being built. 

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May 31, 1969

After floating from coast to coast with only $10,000 capital, Matthew Schwartzman landed in Santa Fe and opened The Candyman on May 31st, 1969 in a 200 square foot space on Water Street in downtown Santa Fe, NM. Originally, the store only sold acoustic guitars, but within a few months started selling recorded music. Later, the store began to carry electrical instruments and offered repair services and eventually, a second location on Galisteo Street was opened, primarily selling stereo equipment.


November 1981

An event that became known as the notorious Candyman fire (burning a million dollars-worth of inventory and causing significant damage to the rental space).

Photo courtesy of the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives Collection



Mr. Schwartzman purchased an empty lot and began construction on The Candyman Center at 851 St. Michael’s Drive in Santa Fe. The building included a 10,000 square foot main retail space and four smaller rental units totaling 14,000 square feet. The Candyman Strings & Things is still housed in this building today.

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The Candyman opened for business in its new 10,00 square foot facility in the main area of The Candyman Center. The addition of consumer electronics division was added. The Candyman became the premier source for musical instruments, recorded music and electronics in Northern New Mexico.



As electronics and home theater increasingly became the focus of the store, the musical instrument department “Strings & Things” was moved into one of the rental spaces at The Candyman Center.



The Candyman maintained its status, enduring market fluctuations and the comings and goings of competition over the next 25 years.

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March 2009

Sadly, founder Matthew Schwartzman died from a malignant brain tumor.


May 2009

Soon after Mr. Schwartzman’s heart-wrenching and unfortunate death, the business’ General Manager, Rand Cook, and his wife, Cindy Cook, purchased Strings & Things. (The Schwartzman family made the decision to eliminate all consumer electronics and recorded music that populated the main area of the building.) The Cooks expanded the ‘birthplace’ of the company, musical instruments. Reinvention of The Candyman Strings & Things took place over the next 4 months and Strings & Things took occupation of the 10,000 square foot facility and expanded its product offerings and added an instrument rental counter, a repair department and a music education center.

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