Great mom and pop stores of the past

SparkleFart

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In the late 80’s & 90’s in my small town, M & M Music was a little store owned by an absolute tone evangelist. Mike brought in a ton of beautiful gear for our tiny market--Matchless, Budda, PRS, Larivee, etc. And he’d send it home with you without deposit for a worry-free, pre-purchase try-out. (Maybe this generosity was encouraged by the fact that the only way in or out of town was by air or sea?)

Anyhow, at his bidding I once drove home with a gorgeous Matchless British race-car green 4x12 cab, stuffed impossibly somehow in the back of my Subaru hatchback. Man it weighed a ton. I didn’t have the skill, need, or funds to justify that piece back then & still don't today.

That cabinet made the sad slow return drive back to the store. But some of my purchases there have remained treasured companions since. M & M Music eventually closed & Mike retired to one of our outlying communities. He exposed a lot of folks to cool gear they otherwise wouldn’t likely have accessed. To this day I’m grateful for his generosity & enthusiasm.

M&M_01272023.jpg
 

Rockinvet

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In the late 80’s & 90’s in my small town, M & M Music was a little store owned by an absolute tone evangelist. Mike brought in a ton of beautiful gear for our tiny market--Matchless, Budda, PRS, Larivee, etc. And he’d send it home with you without deposit for a worry-free, pre-purchase try-out. (Maybe this generosity was encouraged by the fact that the only way in or out of town was by air or sea?)

Anyhow, at his bidding I once drove home with a gorgeous Matchless British race-car green 4x12 cab, stuffed impossibly somehow in the back of my Subaru hatchback. Man it weighed a ton. I didn’t have the skill, need, or funds to justify that piece back then & still don't today.

That cabinet made the sad slow return drive back to the store. But some of my purchases there have remained treasured companions since. M & M Music eventually closed & Mike retired to one of our outlying communities. He exposed a lot of folks to cool gear they otherwise wouldn’t likely have accessed. To this day I’m grateful for his generosity & enthusiasm.

View attachment 1077709
Great story thanks!
 

mefgames

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Joe Bruhl Guitar School
16563 East 14th st
San Leandro, Ca

I used to take my younger brother there after school for lessons. It's also where I bought my used 63 Fender Precision for $ 200. Still have it, and my brother switched to Keys and Mandolin.
 

brookdalebill

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When I was a kid, I took my first guitar lessons from Drew Thomason at Amster Music, circa 1969.
It was on 17th and Lavaca, just north of Capitol Saddlery, where Charlie Dunn (of the Jerry Jeff Walker tune) worked.
It was owned by Gus and Pearl Amster, and primarily sold pianos, and Yamaha guitars.
It’s where my folks got me my first real, good guitar, a Yamaha nylon string.
Drew was a great first guitar teacher.
He taught me how to fingerpick, and how to transpose chords.
He was a folkie/beatnik kinda guy, and taught in his apartment located in the back, above the shop.
The shop had a real “old” vibe, to my 12 year old sensibilities.
I always looked forward to, and was well prepared for my weekly lesson.
It’s long, long gone, but I’ll never forget it.
 
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mixmkr 2023

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Heil Sound outside of StL...and Swing City.
Maybe some StL folks remember Howard Hunze with North County Sound Shop. Kinda a shady place...did PA work for larger local bands.
I think I got my 79 Ric 4001 and 88 Strat for $300 each when Fazios liquidated when closing shop....
McMurry was always the nicest...but most expensive too... never even bought strings there either
 

stratoman1

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Audio,Lights,and Music on Military Highway Norfolk,Va.

Alpha Music in Va. Beach, Va.

Fat Sound Guitars Cary N.C. (I don't think big box put them out though)
Both Alpha and ALM are still here. ALM is smaller though. I go to Alpha all the time. Just bought a new Mesa there and will be getting a Hughes and Kettner soon
 

Toto'sDad

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The independent store of almost any kind has all but disappeared. Man, there used to be several independent music stores in Bakersfield many years ago. Places where you could have quality workmanship done on your instruments, buy good stuff, and there wasn't even any junk in the store to distract you. You could get lessons on about anything you wanted to.

There were nice men's stores in the area, back when I actually cared about how I dressed. There were department stores that were clean, orderly, and actually had personnel that knew what the products were and could give you a good assessment of their potential benefits.

That has all been swept away by the desire of the public to buy cheap, now it's outlets, cheap guitars, and in general junk to choose from, no matter what you're looking for. Amazon, Musician's Friend and their ilk have replaced the independents, and I guess we are doomed to be at theirs, and the mercy of shippers forever.
 

Toto'sDad

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The battery in my wife's car went dead while she was recovering from her surgery experience. I looked up the receipt, that battery was five years old. I jumped the car battery with my little Honda, got it started and drove it about ten miles. It started fine this morning, but I didn't hesitate, I called my guy at a local car repair shop that I trust, he's getting a PREMIUM battery for me, and I'll drop the car off to have the battery replaced. I LOVE that kind of service. You can have the elbow grease approach I've been there and done that.
 

Frankie

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Al Nalli Music in Ann Arbor Michigan.. Nalli's was the best of the best, always had the top of the line gear. The store was ran by Rob Nalli, who was a good friend to all of the local musicians through the 70's and into the 90's.
 

Rockinvet

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Seems like the only place to try out a guitar is Guitar Center and generally either I do not like their stock or I can't afford it. Like a high end Gibson. Just to replace my 335 would be $3-4K. Or buy online to try and if you don't like it send it back. Then we all end up paying. And who knows maybe GC will go the way of Bed Bath and Beyond and start closing stores.
 

Nightclub Dwight

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Mine wasn't necessarily a great mom and pop shop, but it was my local mom and pop shop where I took lessons in 1980 and 81. Ron Maxwell gave lessons in the basement using his 1950s Gibson ES-125, and his wife collected the money upstairs in a little store they had set up in the vestibule of their house between the garage and the main part of the house. They had a basic inventory, mostly picks, strings and capos. They did have some used Fenders for sale there occasionally. It was kind of a weird place, more home than shop, but they were open for business every day.
 

Slim Chance

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Rivoli Music in New Brunswick, NJ. My brother bought this new and I've had it since about 1976. Adjusted for inflation, about 2,400. The case was one of those cardboard models. I probably tossed it when I bought one of the blue hardshells.

Martin D-18 receipt.jpg


My local M & P store is now Chuck Levin's. Opened in 1958 and originally on H St., NE in Washington, DC, it's been in Wheaton, MD since 1968. Interesting history here.
 

Joebanjocolo

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In Denver we had Melody Music owned by Gorden Close. I Picked up a Rickenbacker 360-12 in 78 or 79 for $ 250 they just wanted it out of the store, no one wanted them back then. Of course it is long gone due to divorce.

Bobby's Music on Broadway, I bought a Telecaster (my first) in 1980, it went away during the divorce.

Denver Folklore Center Owned By Harry Tuft (Acoustic Instruments). Harry started it in 1962 and I have purchased many instruments from him. Harry is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, he sold the store a few years back but It remains open. Harry has met so many well known players and he has some wonderful stories.
 

Harry Styron

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Not all independent music stores went by the wayside. Some have found a formula for growth.

I'm acquainted with Guitar House in Tulsa, where my wife took banjo lessons in about 1980 from Rob Bishline (now a builder of boutique banjos) when he was in high school; Palen Music in Springfield, Missouri, which has a great inventory and a good teaching and repair staff; and West Music in Coralville (next to Iowa City), which has a good online presence and a dedication to serving music educators and students.

I should also mention Rosewood Music in Jefferson City, Missouri, where a father and son have a nice inventory of instruments and amps and a competent repair department.
 

tbp0701

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Heights Guitars in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. From what I recall the original owner passed, then a store in Toledo maybe bought it, put a couple pretty cool people in charge, then later closed it with a day or two's notice. Anyway, the original owner and an employee helped me out when I started guitar. I also heard he refused to sell a vintage SG to a very wealthy customer who wanted it for his teenage son's first guitar.

There was also Goose Acres nearby, but it's been gone for a long time. I didn't play guitar when it existed, but I went there a couple times with a friend who did. Mostly I looked at all the cool guitars and wished there was a saxophone shop like that. And that I really should learn guitar. I think the owner retired to motorcycle race and was in a fatal accident soon after.

I don't miss most of the other small music stores that were around when I was growing up, though, especially when I went to college and learned how much I'd overpaid for reeds and music all those years. I just remembered how much I got yelled at for buying a Charlie Parker Omnibook.
 

Rockinvet

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Rivoli Music in New Brunswick, NJ. My brother bought this new and I've had it since about 1976. Adjusted for inflation, about 2,400. The case was one of those cardboard models. I probably tossed it when I bought one of the blue hardshells.

View attachment 1093363

My local M & P store is now Chuck Levin's. Opened in 1958 and originally on H St., NE in Washington, DC, it's been in Wheaton, MD since 1968. Interesting history here.
Chuck Levins is a great place to even buy online now.
 

burntfrijoles

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I grew up in central Louisiana, a small town of about 45,000. We had a great little music store. I don't remember its name. It was owned by a nice man who was an excellent guitarist. My dad bought my first proper electric guitar, a Hagstrom (at least it was proper to me). It was an excellent instrument.

Later, after college I bought an SG and a gorgeous Jumbo bodied Guild with blonde maple back and sides.
He always had a small assortment of Fenders, Gibsons and Guilds. I don't remember any Martins but, honestly, I don't recall Martins being that popular (at least until CSNY and Joni hit the scene).

It was a small shop, just him and his wife, but it was the store of dreams. I remember my dream guitar in high school was a sunburst Strat, rosewood fretboard with a tortoise pickguard.

It's really a shame that shops like that don't exist anymore.

When I moved to NE Florida in 95, there were a couple of small shops in Jacksonville. One was very nice and large by "mom and pop" store standards. Another was much smaller and didn't have a large inventory but the owner told me he would closing up soon. He couldn't meet the minimum order quotas from Fender or Gibson. He might have had 4 or 5 of each.
 
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