Chris, I think I could spend a nice Saturday afternoon in one of these shops, talking about pianos with the old man, discussing history, playing on a dusty but newly restored piano, and examining parts at a closer level. Some great shop talk could come from such places; a toy store for the pianist! Unfortunately, all too often these days, as the owner passes away, these shops are dwindling one by one until none will be left. Hardly any are left in my area. At one time, Boston had a dozen piano manufacturers, let alone shops to service them. The only reason such shops stay open is due to the passion of the proprietor... Shake his hand for staying in business.
That reminds me of that book Andreas and I read together here a couple years ago, "The Piano Shop at the Left Bank" (or something like that). I wonder if I can find this shop in Paris when I go there. I do have Pleyel on my list of places to see.
That's the first thing that came to my mind too, Monica.
One could easily be inspired to write at least a short story on one's experience after visiting such a place. It also reminds me of Charles Dickens'The Old Curiousity Shop
BTW, the Salle Pleyel is a must see for Chopin aficionados! On the topic of books, have you read Romance on Three Legs
by Katie Hafner? If for anything, I love the title. It's a good book chronicling Gould's quest for "the perfect piano."