Even though The Candyman Strings & Things has been part of the National Association of Music Merchant's (NAMM) Top 100 Dealers four times since its inception in 2011 and won 7 Best Of awards in other categories from the organization (that's more than any music retailer in the world, by the way), owners Rand and Cindy Cook were utterly surprised to be named 2014's Dealer of the Year at the organization's recent annual awards banquet in Nashville.
"We were completely blown away because just being in the top 100 is a real honor in and of itself," Rand Cook says. "But to be honored at such a high level is a real nice feather in the cap."
In addition to such a prestigious award, The Candyman has also won NAMM's Music Makes a Difference award in 2012 and 2014 for their work in mentoring teens, as well as recently being recognized and added to the Congressional Record by Congressman Ben Ray Luján for their inspirational, community-driven work in the Santa Fe area.
The commendation was read to Speaker of the House John Boehner on Tuesday, Jan. 6 and then presented to The Candyman by Luján during a small ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 10 at the store itself. Among employees, friends and families, the Cooks made sure to make special mention of their staff by referring to them as "the backbone of the business."
For over two decades, The Candyman has been an exemplary musical instrument retailer not only as a business, but as a community-minded entity.
"We don't exist for the sole reason of making money," Cook says. "When people shop here, they support the public and private schools, our Rock Camp program and the charities we donate to every year, and they become a part of what community stands for…by shopping local, Santa Feans provide opportunities for our kids and in other philanthropic areas."
The Candyman's Rock Camp program takes place in June, July and August, though official dates have yet to be announced for the 2015 sessions.
"We promote similar programs in the schools and anybody can have access to the information and tools we've developed," Cook tells SFR. "The more kids that make music, the better."
Congratulations to The Candyman for all the well-deserved recognition and to Rand Cook who, as of May 11 of this year, will have worked at the store for 25 years.