If anyone had asked John and Gail Bruno 10 years ago about their professional plans, owning and operating a musical instrument store would not have likely been at the top of the list. Gail had been working in the corporate world for more than a decade, whereas John was a local musician who worked in computer and software support and occasionally taught guitar. However, when they heard that a beloved local mom-and-pop retailer was shutting down, their love of the arts—and the community—took over.
Route 1 Guitars
189 Bridgeport Ave.
Milford, CT 06460
Mon-Thurs 12pm to 7:30pm
Fri 12pm to 6pm
Sat 10am to 6pm
John Bruno, Owner
Gail Bruno, Store Manager
“My whole life, I loved going into mom-and-pop guitar shops and really did not love the huge chain stores,” said John, who had been a customer of Milford Music Studio since his good friend and distant cousin, Michael Nunno, opened the shop in 1990. At the time, Milford Music Studio was one of three local independent music stores. But, by the end of the decade, a Sam Ash and a Guitar Center had opened up in nearby towns. “They really destroyed the retail business and the store was on the verge of closing, surviving mostly on lessons,” he said.
“When Mike told me about his decision to close, I was shocked,” John continued. “So, I made him an offer to purchase his entire inventory, officially closing Milford Music Studios and opening Route 1 Guitars. I just couldn’t let one of the last private shops disappear.”
Route 1 Guitars officially opened in September 2005 and it was a steep learning curve for John and Gail, who, to this day, remain the store’s only two employees. Gail, the store Manager, took guitar and bass lessons to educate herself on the products she was selling, while John, the store Owner, read books, did research and relied on the advice of friends to get up to speed quickly on how to successfully run the…