$1,675       is the cost of the cheapest pianos on display at Santa Fe Music & Piano.

$23,038      is the discount patients

"One of [KISS co-founder Gene] Simmons’ words of wisdom: Have good-looking women work at your store."—From the keynote speech given at a 2009 convention of instrument
dealers, according to an industry newsletter, The Music & Sound Retailer

With recession anxiety spreading faster than swine flu, it pays to go down-market. Stores selling 25 cent ramen noodles do better than those selling $35,000 grand pianos.

Recently, SFR reported on the travails of merchants at local shopping malls, including Santa Fe Music & Piano, which faced eviction from DeVargas Center for unpaid rent.

The Texas-based owner of DeVargas, Weingarten Realty, withdrew its complaint in May. But two weeks ago, Weingarten once again filed suit against its tenant in the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe.

If Judge Daniel Sanchez rules for the landlord, a sheriff's deputy could force the city's only full-service piano dealer out of its 2,700-square-foot space in the mall.

But the music store isn't giving up without a fight.

"There's very much another side of the story," store owner Sarma Taylor's husband, Leonard Faucher, says.

Taylor has hired lawyers in Albuquerque to handle the case, Faucher says. He says Taylor maintains Weingarten broke the store's lease before it sued for eviction. How so? By failing to stop a nearby tenant from smoking inside the mall, despite repeated complaints from Taylor and warnings from city officials, Faucher says.

"From Sarma's point of view, that is a breach of the lease," Faucher says.

Judge Sanchez is scheduled to hear Weingarten's case on July 29. The next day, Weingarten will release its financial results for the second quarter of 2009. The company has so far avoided the disaster that befell the nation's largest mall owner, General Growth Properties, but that doesn't mean all's well for Weingarten. The company's stock price has dropped by roughly half since July 2008.

DeVargas property manager Katy Fitzgerald did not return a cell phone message.