Giovanni Music closes after five decades in Edmonton

EDMONTON — The Giovanni Music store closed its doors Saturday after 53 years of operation in Edmonton, and will reopen with a new owner.

John Scivoletto has been a fixture of the Edmonton music scene for decades, but most people know him as John Giovanni.

Giovanni is a stage name he adopted in his band days, playing the accordion 7 nights a week at hotels in Edmonton including the Sheraton and Hotel MacDonald.

He opened the first Giovanni Music store on Stony Plain Road in 1968.

“We had a music school downstairs, and we had our store on the main floor,” said Giovanni. “That’s where we started.”

In 1972 they demolished the store and built a new one on the same lot, this time a 3-storey building.

The business then moved to phase 1 of West Edmonton Mall for about 20 years, said Giovanni. Ten years ago the business settled into its current location on Mayfield Road.

“I have one chord on the guitar and that’s it,” laughed Giovanni.

Giovanni only plays the accordion, and taught for many years until the accordion “faded away.”

“School has been always very important, I actually took pride in teaching,” said Giovanni. “I was teaching the accordion, but as time went by we actually had teachers that worked for us and we actually did lessons on many, many instruments as well.”

Of all the famous customers the store has dealt with over the years, one really stands out to Giovanni.

He said about 12 years ago he got a phone call 10 days before Christmas from Canadian music legend David Foster, asking for a piano to be delivered to his daughter as a present. At first Giovanni didn’t believe his ears.

“I wasn’t really sure if he was really real, but we talked and sure enough it was David Foster,” said Giovanni. “I was able to make arrangements to deliver a piano right before Christmas.”

That wasn’t the last time Giovanni dealt with Foster.

“We actually supplied a piano to him when he came in to do a concert.”

The school has had thousands of students over the 53 years, and Giovanni says he couldn’t begin to guess how many instruments the business has sold.

“Oh, thousands for sure, definitely thousands,” said Giovanni. “Pianos, digital pianos, guitars, amplifiers, it would be impossible for me to give you (a number).”

The building and business was sold to Long and McQuade, and on April 6 Giovanni says the transition happens. The people working for the company will continue under the new ownership.

The transition is bittersweet for employees, because Giovanni is retiring.

“I love working with John, he’s probably the best boss anyone could have ever had,” said piano teacher Glenn Pettit. “He’s done so much for everybody.”

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