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The Candyman
History & Legacy

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About The Candyman
Strings & Things

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.

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

In November 1981, a moment that would etch itself into The Candyman's history, unfolded. The notorious Candyman fire, burning a quarter of a million dollars worth of inventory, resulted in a total loss. Matthew Schwartzman, the visionary founder, stood in the middle of Water Street and watched as the first child of The Candyman was consumed by fire, almost 13 years after its birth.

Matthew was quoted as saying, "This is a disaster, but a success story, too." Why? Because he saw an opportunity to rebuild, to forge something even greater from the ashes. Fully insured, he embarked on a journey to craft a new Candyman from scratch. Who bore witness to this pivotal moment in The Candyman's history? Who can say they were there?

Photo courtesy of the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives Collection



In 1982, after the devastating fire in November of 1981, Mr. Schwartzman purchased an empty lot and undertook the monumental task of rebuilding what is dubbed The Candyman Center at 851 St. Michael’s Drive in Santa Fe. This new space boasted a sprawling 10,000 square-foot main retail area, along with four smaller rental units, totaling 14,000 square feet.

Today, The Candyman Strings & Things continues to proudly call this iconic building home. But here's a fun fact to the story: The original store on Water Street was strategically located across the street from the Greyhound bus station, attracting a steady stream of foot traffic. Matthew's keen sense of opportunity led him to the vacant lot across from the then newly-relocated Greyhound station (which is now Just Sprinklers).

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In 1984, after meticulous planning and the masterful touch of notorious architect Edward Mazria, Mr. Schwartzman unveiled his magnum opus at 851 St. Michael's Drive, Santa Fe. An Open House welcomed family, friends, and peers, celebrating the grand opening of the unofficially coined music mall. The business name officially expanded to The Candyman Music & Electronics.

From a premier instrument shop to becoming the epicenter for home theater and custom installations, The Candyman expanded its horizons. It was an audio and video haven, a hub for sound distribution, and a sanctuary for every form of musical media imaginable — from records and CDs to high fidelity and live sound.

Initially, the musical instruments took a side stage in the main space, while Desert Rose Fashion Boutique, Old Santa Fe Furniture, and McMillan's of Santa Fe (a sporting goods store) took residence in the rental bays.

Then, in 1988, the musical instrument department gained its independent identity as 'Strings & Things.' and was "kicked around the corner" to one of the rental spaces. The next year, Strings & Things expanded, taking over an adjoining rental space.



In 1988, the musical instrument department gained its independent identity as Strings & Things and was "kicked around the corner" to one of the rental spaces. The next year, Strings & Things expanded, taking over an adjoining rental space.



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

Tragically, Matthew Schwartzman's journey was cut short by a malignant brain tumor. His vision and passion, however, continued to resonate through The Candyman, leaving an indelible mark on the Santa Fe community and beyond. Though he may no longer walk among us, his spirit lives on in every chord strummed and every melody sung within the walls of The Candyman.


May 2009

Following the untimely passing of Mr. Schwartzman, the reins of The Candyman were taken up by General Manager Rand Cook and his wife, Cindy Cook, who stepped forward to carry on the legacy. In a poignant tribute to the founder's vision, the Schwartzman family opted to bid farewell to consumer electronics and recorded music, clearing the stage for a new era focused solely on musical instruments.

The Cooks embarked on a journey of reinvention of The Candyman Strings & Things. Over the course of four transformative months, the familiar walls of the establishment witnessed a rebirth, as Strings & Things expanded its domain to occupy the expansive 10,000-square-foot facility. With this expansion came new offerings—a dedicated instrument rental counter, a repair department, and the crowning jewel, a music education center.

The Candyman Strings & Things reaffirmed its commitment to nurturing the musical spirit of Santa Fe and beyond and for generations to come.

Timeline of Events 2009 through 2017

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Timeline of Events 2018 through 2019

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Timeline of Events 2020 to Present Day

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