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Ukulele store, arguably the only one in New York, opens in Astoria

Ken Murray

Ken Murray

Nov. 6, 2014 By Michael Florio

A ukulele shop has opened in Astoria that may be the only store dedicated to selling the instrument in New York.

Uke Hut, located at 36-01 36th Ave, opened Saturday and owner Ken Murray, 70, will be selling instruments, providing lessons and holding performances.

Business has been quiet since he opened six days ago. However, “I have more than half the ukuleles still in boxes,” Murray said.

Nevertheless, there has been a lot of interest in his store. “Even before we opened,” Murray said, “we had people coming in curious about ukuleles,” he said.

The 3-level store has a retail operation on the ground floor where Murray sells his moderately-prices ukuleles. Up a few stairs and his high-end products are on display.

Meanwhile, on the third floor, he will be using the space to host events, performances and provide lessons.

Lessons will cost $50 per hour and he is currently taking on students.

Murray will be hosting a ukulele meet up on Nov. 14 (7:30 pm), where ukulele players and fans of the instrument will get together. Murray is hoping for over 50 people to show up.

Murray is a former ukulele promoter who would find venues for performers to play.

His goal is to get the musicians he used to promote to come to Astoria and meet residents who have an interest in the instrument.

Murray said he would bring talented players to his store every day. These musicians will be there to play, talk to customers and even teach a little bit.

Murray, who grew up in Brooklyn and now lives in Astoria, learned to play the ukulele as an adult in Hawaii. Since then he has been a ukulele fanatic.

Uke Hut is a big step for Murray since it is the only shop he has opened.

The shop is open from Tuesday through Saturday, 12 to 7 pm.

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