History | Est. 1978

The History of Focus II Guitar Center and Music Emporium

On Long Island, New York, during the 1980’s there was a music store chain that grew to be one of the largest in the state, second to only Sam Ash.

On July 5, 1978, Tom LoVarco and Lorraine Lefczuk opened their doors for business in a small 300 square foot store on Jerusalem Avenue in Merrick, NY, the start of a growing chain, known as Focus II Guitar Centers.

At the start, the business was a place where Tom LoVarco could give guitar lessons, as he already had a following in the area.  Soon after, Focus II Guitar Center began growing not only as a lesson center, but as retail store with musical instruments and accessories available for purchase.  Upon the quick obtaining of franchises including companies like Fender, Gibson, Ovation and other popular lines then, the store began to grow.  Tom’s brother, Charlie LoVarco, began working at the store part time while still attending high school.  In 1979 after graduation, Charlie worked full time.

By mid 1980, the business had grown and Focus II Guitar Center was in need of a larger location.  They moved the business to North Bellmore, where it still resides today as Music Emporium.  In 1982, Tom made his brother, Charlie, a 50% partner and married Lorraine Lefczuk.  She soon left the music store to raise their two children.  It was also the year that Tom and Charlie decided to expand from Nassau to Suffolk County and opened their second guitar center on Long Island in Commack.  In January, on a snowy day, Focus II Guitar Center had grand opening, this time to their second location in Commack.  There was a line of people waiting outside in anticipation.  When they opened their doors for business that day, the store was immediately filled to capacity and some customers were forced to wait outside and let in as others left.  Tom and Charlie’s sister, Donna Falco then joined the team, heading their accounting department.

By 1984, the LoVarcos’ opened their 3rd location in Patchogue gaining tremendous success.  Featured in industry magazines and receiving awards from Guitar Player Magazine for leading sales in 1984, Focus II Guitar Centers began receiving endorements from high profile guitar players like Steve Vai and Adrian Blu and were sought after by almost all manufacturers in the industry to carry and promote product lines.  The retail chain was know for, not only having aggressive sale promotions, but had the reputation of having the best instructors.  Some of these musicians have gone on to be well known members of The Stray Cats, Dream Theatre, Megadeath and more.  Focus II Guitar Centers’ customer list included nearly every well known musician on Long Island.  It wasn’t uncommon to find members of Billy Joel’s band, Aerosmith, Twisted Sister, Zebra or Joan Jett browsing the shelves, checking out the latest in technology.  In 1986, Focus II Guitar Centers’ was awarded “Best Music Education Program” at the first Annual Music and Sound Awards.  In 1987, Charlie LoVarco married Debra O’Hara.  Soon after she began working for Focus II Guitar Centers, she helped propel it to the success it is today.  Then LoVarco’s again decided to expand to new territory and opened their 4th location in Flushing, NY.  With the opening of the Queens location, they established themselves as the largest musical instrument dealer on Long Island, New York.  Each store being run by a professional manager dedicated to the ultimate in customer service.  Dave Morochinick in Patchogue, Eric Thorsen in Bellmore, Tom Klimkowski, Bob Santos and Charlie Proper in Commack and Jimmy Auer in Queens.  In 1989, Focus II was voted “Long Island’s #1 Music Dealer”, by Guitar for the Practicing Musician Reader’s Poll.  It was also in 1989, they were awarded “Most Effective Music Dealer” in the country at the 3rd annual Music and Sound Awards.

In the early 90’s, Tom and Charlie went their separate ways, changing the name of the business to Music Emporium and closing the Flushing and Patchogue stores.  The two brothers split and Charlie stayed at the Bellmore location and Tom continued to work at the Commack store.  In 1994, Tom left the music industry and closed the Commack location, to pursue a career in the martial arts industry.  Today, Tom and his wife, Lorraine LoVarco, are the owners of American Black Belt Academy in Massapequa Park, New York, one of the most successful schools in the country.  Tom is also the Vice President of the Worldwide Kenpo Karate Association and hosts the largest tournament circuit in the North East.  His brother Charlie and wife Debra continue to successfully operate the Music Emporium in North Bellmore, which is one of the largest retail and lesson centers on Long Island is now in it’s 33rd year.

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