By JASMINE DURSUN
On the border of the New Jersey and New York state line lies a three-store plaza that is separated from the bustling State 505. Isolated from the trafficked highway that dawns fast food chains and and gas stations, the corner of Northvale, NJ contains a bicyclist exercise shop, a dance studio and now, one abandoned karate studio later, a haven for musicians.
Beau Monde Guitars – translating from “Beautiful Life” in French – explores the beauty of music. The shop, which
was bought in June and open to the public by November, is a collaborative business of two musicians, Louis Bottone and Harry Jacovou. Despite the name of the shop, it’s not only limited to guitars – they also have a catalog of bass guitars, drum sets and keyboards and plenty of supplies to go along with any musician of whatever skill, whether they’re just starting to play an instrument or whether they’ve been playing for ten years. They are authorized dealers of an abundance of brands, which include Gibson, Marshall, Orange Amps, Voodoo Lab and other popularized house names.
New Beginnings For New Owners & Long-Time Friends
The owners of the boutique have maintained a life-long friendship and have extended their relationship to co-owners. Bottone began his musical journey as a child, and turned to guitar playing as his secondary choice when his father firmly concluded that drum lessons were out of the question. He became infatuated with the instrument and furthered his career when he received his first job at O. DiBella Music in Bergenfield, NJ in high school. Upon meeting Jacovou in high school and establishing a friendship and shared love of music with him, Bottone referred him to O. DiBella, where they became co-workers.
After graduating from St. Thomas Aquinas College, Bottone began an elaborate touring career after forming the band, The Finals, in 2003, which involved former members of local prodigies such as Tokyo Rose and Welcome Home Travis. Bottone understood the importance of social networking in his blossoming career, promoting the band through music feature site PureVolume.com. Their online popularity caught the attention of Immortal Records, and in July 2006, their full-length album, “Plan Your Getaway,” was released, along with smash single, “They’ll Never Know,” which received commercial success and was featured on CNN’s “American Morning.”
“It was short-lived, I guess,” Bottone says, reflecting on his touring career, in which his band gained popularity in both the United States and Japan. “But it was fun. Toured the country, did all that. Lived the dream for a hot minute, and that was that.”
Jacovou graduated to the Guitar Department Manager at O. DiBella and was able to showcase his skills and knowledge of guitars to develop a loyal following. He also ignited his own recording project, BlackJack Studios, in which he owns, operates, produces and engineers at. The project began in 2005 and took three years to construct, which he took initiative to oversee every aspect of development of the studio.
When Bottone’s band career faded in 2007, he returned to O. DiBella music as a veteran employee. Between Bottone’s knowledge and Jacovou’s meticulous nature of his own collection of guitars and amplifiers, the duo decided to pursue their own spin on musical retail. It was time to launch their own establishment, where the quality of instruments were based on their own expertise, and in the autumn of 2013, they quit their jobs at O. DiBella and constructed Beau Monde Guitars.
According to Bottone, he and Jacovou are now “married,” dedicated to their business and spending the most time together as they continue to build their reputations.
“He’s my work spouse,” he says with a laugh.
Beau Monde Guitars Hosts Their First Event
The beginning of December drew customers to the shop for Beau Monde’s Restring Event, which allowed customers to come in and have their instruments restrung for free. Both Bottone and Jacovou carefully renewed instruments that potential customers offered, participating in a process that proved both owners’ skills and background experiences. The shop included maintenance routines such as cleansing the necks of the guitars with lemon oil and tuning the instruments before the musicians could play them, processes that displayed their finesse in caretaking for instruments.
The shop, decorated in Christmas decor for the holiday season, is a vast area that house a plethora of instruments. A collection of electric guitars color the black paneled walls that shine in white display lights. Amplifiers align the perimeter of the room, accompanied by stools where musicians could experiment with sound. A black counter, boarded up with faux Mesa speakers, guards a wall of strings and supplies for every stringed instrument, including banjos and ukeleles. In a separate room, there is another collection of guitars for acoustics, where musicians are also invited to play.
The crowd included musicians from all ages alike, including 17-year-old Derek, a native of Northvale. The young guitarist explored both electric and acoustic guitars and left, only to reappear a half hour later with a group of friends.
“I walk all over here all the time, and I saw it,” he says. “I saw that there was a guitar shop opening up, and I thought it was cool.” He was hesitant at coming in at first because he was uncertain whether or not the business was open, but once he saw people, he “anticipated” exploring the ship.
The atmosphere ignited with the riffs of guitars until its closing at 6 pm, where customers jammed solo or collaborated together, discussed their passion for music and the potential of the new shop and enjoyed each other’s company.
The popularity of the event, with the help of social networking, drew a wide enough audience to prove that this small business guitar shop could blossom from its beautiful beginnings.
“For us, we’re trying to do something different than your average music store,” Bottone explains. “We’re trying to build more of a community of musicians here.”
He stops stringing a black guitar momentarily to gesture around the room.
“You see all of this happening right now?” he asks, referencing the amount of people in the room. “You wouldn’t see this happening in a corporate music store. You’re not gonna walk into Sam Ash or Guitar Center and see this. We kind of built the place for a community of guitar players.”