The back story for the village of Saugerties’ newest music store sounds like the lyrics of a Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner song. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, girl moves away, so does boy, boy meets girl again, they fall in love, they get engaged and they open a music store.
The only difference with the story of Alex Kellner and Patti Molloy is that the love story began about 40 years ago, and only re-ignited two years ago.
Kellner, who recently opened the Kingtone Music Store at 282 Main Street, and his fiancée, Molloy were high-school sweethearts in Freeport, Long Island. During the summer Molloy’s parent and their daughter would travel to their second home in Saugerties. They liked Alex so much they’d bring him along.
Soon after graduation, the Molloys decided that Saugerties, with its lack of traffic and less hectic life, was the place to be. They relocated here.
Alex, meanwhile, opted for warmer climes, and moved to Tampa to attend college. While in Tampa, his brother Larry, a guitar player, opened a music store. Alex, who played drums, came on board to help run the place.
The brothers were successful in their business, selling drums, amps, guitars, and all the accompanying hardware. After more than 30 years in business, they decided to retire. Through Facebook, a friend of Alex re-introduced him to Patti.
“I wasn’t real happy in retirement,” Alex says. “And when I came up to see Patti and found out they didn’t have a music store, I decided to give it a shot.”
The couple got a pickup truck, since there’s always one in a country western song, although the two had grown up going to rock-and-roll concerts out on the Island and at the Schafer Music Fest in Central Park. Their RV traveled the country buying up used drum kits, guitars and amps for their planned store.
“We were like that TV show American Pickers,” Alex said.
Supplied with drum kits and dozens of guitars, the couple opened up Kingtone Music. The term, according to Alex comes from that perfect tone that all guitarist and drummers look for.
Armed with a long list of vendors of musical instrument vendors Alex had acquired while in business in Tampa, the pair was finally ready to settle in Saugerties and open up their store. The 800-square-foot space is jammed with guitars on stands. A number of drum kits hang from the walls. A host of amps are packed together, ready for customers. Just about anyone to come in and start playing.
“If they need someone to provide a backbeat, I’ll sit in on drums,” Alex says. “Our philosophy is to provide a good instrument at a fair price.”
Kellner also takes in trades, and does all his own repairs of guitars and drums. He’s a certified dealer for Alvarez and D’Angelca guitars. He also stocks a number Fender Strats, some nice C&L Guitars, a Gibson or two, and a host of drum kits.
Most guitars sell in the $200 to $400 range, some in the thousands of dollars. “Something for everyone,” he says.
Business has been so good that “that in the first quarter we’ve made more than three times what I expected to make in the entire year.” Not only has the shop been successful, but also some of the area’s better-known professional musicians, such as Jack Dejohnette, Murali Coryell and Chris Difford of Squeeze, have found the store.
Marriage is what the future holds for Kellner and Molloy. They also hope for a bigger space in Saugerties for Kingtone Music, maybe, Kellner says, “two shops next to each other, one for guitars and one for drums.”