Goodbye to the little shop of harmonies
Big-box and Internet competition are forcing Makin' Music, Brooksville's downtown full-service music store, to close after 23 years.
By LOGAN NEILL
Published June 26, 2006
BROOKSVILLE - In need of a trombone mouthpiece? How about a set of timpani mallets or a kazoo? Perhaps a Dean Martin songbook?
Here's a tip: Now would be a good time to drop by Makin' Music and make an offer.
Because in a few weeks, the little shop on Broad Street will close its doors for the last time. With it will go the town's only full-service music store, which for the past 23 years catered to everyone from high school band students to church pianists to rock musicians.
What once was a comfortable downtown business hasn't seen many rays of hope the past few years. Despite its location in one of the state's fastest-growing counties, Makin' Music, like many independent music stores, didn't fare well in the highly competitive world where big-box franchises and Internet music sales rule the marketplace.
Owner Robert Neale believes that value-minded people aren't apt to venture into a quaint music store when they can buy a guitar for $99 at Wal-Mart.
"It's very sad, but the times have changed," said Neale, a former Pasco County school band director, who purchased the store in 1996. "As much as we tried, it was getting harder and harder to compete."
It wasn't always like that. The store, which Michael and Betty Schick opened in 1983, was the first full-service music shop in Brooksville. Prior to that, searching for supplies such as trumpet valve oil, clarinet and oboe reeds, and sheet music was a hit-or-miss proposition.
Often, such items had to be special ordered.
The Schicks made it a point of stocking not just popular band instrument supplies, but hard-to-find accessories for stringed instruments as well. Later, they entered into a contract with the Hernando County School Board to provide rental instruments to band students.
For longtime store manager Sharon Stone, the pending July closing of Makin' Music is tugging at her heart. Since word got out, dozens of customers have been stopping by to pay their respects - and say goodbye.
"I know nothing lasts forever, but it's been tough," Stone said. "I've known some of these people for 23 years. I know their kids and grandkids. It's like saying goodbye to your family."
Stone, who has been with the store since it opened, also operated the music studios across the street that bore her name. At its peak, the studio had more than 100 students stopping by for private lessons, and many of them have gone on to successful careers as musicians.
Stone said she worries that the lack of a local music store will hurt aspiring musicians in the area.
"It was a people-friendly business," she said. "We tried to treat our customers with dignity and respect. It didn't matter whether they wore nose rings and black fingernails or church clothes. They were all treated the same."
The store will be remembered for its charity as well. When families were unable to come up with the money for band instrument rental fees, the store had a special fund to take care of it.
"Music brings so much to a child's life," Stone said. "It allows them to express themselves and gives the wider view into the world. Not being part of that is what I'll miss the most."
Stone said that the store's band rental business has been picked up by a company in Brandon and will be administered by a Spring Hill music store. Most of the private music tutors will teach from other locations.
Neale and Stone say they plan to pursue opportunities outside of the music field.
"It's hard giving up something that's been a big part of your life for such a long time," Stone said. "But I'm blessed with a lot of good memories. I plan to hang on to them for a long time."
[Last modified June 25, 2006, 22:40:02]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]