FOR MUSICIANS, BY MUSICIANS - SINCE 1992
Bear with me for a few moments, as I tell this story.
It was late February of 1992 when the idea to open Avalon Music began. I was shopping at the only music store in Wenatchee - I'll refer to it as Store B - during my lunch hour. I was interested in buying a Gibson ES335 guitar, as I had one back in the 1960's and 1970's when I was playing in bands in the San Francisco Bay Area and picking up occassional studio jobs. I missed those sweet blues tones.
Shopping at Store B had always been a less than satisfying experience. Selection was limited. Prices were all locked in at MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price), even though the "street price" for instruments and equipment was substantially lower. Customer service was horrible: helpfulness was not part of the staff's mission, there was a Do Not Touch policy, and an arrogant attitude. Since it was the only store in Wenatchee, local musicians were "stuck with Store B" unless they could make a trip to Seattle, Spokane or Portland.
When I asked to play a Gibson ES335 hanging in a glass case, the salesperson shook his head and told me "that guitar is for a professional musician." Huh? I counted to ten. I bit my tongue, thanked him and walked out of the store.
That night I spoke with my wife, Julie, about the need for a local music store that was committed to serving the area's local musicians, whether beginners or professional, young or old, struggling or gifted. Julie encouraged me to move forward with the idea. The next day I called Mike Sager, a close friend, gifted songwriter and performer. Over the course of two or three weeks, Mike and I agreed to the concept and worked up a business plan. We were going to do it!
Mike and I found an old storefront in downtown Wenatchee and worked out a lease with the owner. We contacted manufacturers and suplliers to find out what instrument, equipment and accessory lines were available. Mike and I remodeled and set up the storefront over several weeks, working into the late evening and early morning hours as we both had "real jobs" during the day.
On May 22, 1992, the doors of Avalon Music opened. Yeah, we were just another music store in Wenatchee. But, we were determined to be a music store with a difference. Our prices would always be competitive with stores in major markets and with catalogues. (This was before e-commerce). We would only offer instruments, equipment and accessories we believed in. Our instruments and equipment were in the store to be picked-up and played by our customers. Our customer service would be unsurpassed. And finally, we would make a positive difference by supporting performance arts in our community.
From the day the doors opened, Avalon Music has been more successful then we ever imagined. Sales increased and profits were put into expanding our inventory. The community responded. Sales increased further and we expanded to inventory even more.
[But not everything worked out as Mike and I had planned. Less than three years after Avalon Music was opened, Mike's wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer. There were many tears and prayers. Mike needed to devote all his time to his family and he asked that I buy him out.]
In 1995, I moved Avalon Music to its current location. More room. On-site parking. A better experience for our customers. The store has continued to grow and now we offer the largest selection of instruments, equipment, printed music and accessories in all of Central Washington. In 2009 we tore down our existing building, doubled our size and our parking, added teaching studios, a performance area for clinics, a dedicated repair area and an even greater selection of products.
Fair prices. Great selection. Unparalleled customer service. A commitment to our community. It works.
We'll continue focusing on our mission at Avalon Music, of course. We even made it through 2020. Whew!
Oh, and that Store B? It closed its doors within three years after we opened. [Every employee at Avalon Music learns this story the first day on the job.]
On behalf of everyone here at Avalon Music, thank you.