A 50-year-old music store filled with instruments and history

It was the summer of 69.

Steve Townsend, then 20, was giving guitar lessons at his father’s general store when he decided to open his own music store.

In the week before Christmas 2019, the Pearland Music Factory was busy and buzzing with music business.

But for 50 years, this factory has sold more than instruments.

For Townsend’s son Chase, who now runs the store, it’s not just veteran musicians looking for another piece and another tone to add to their collections, but the look of wonder on the faces of thousands of children discovering their first guitar, cello, keyboard, ukulele or snare drum.

“It’s that Harry Potter and the Magic Wand moment – there’s this divine light coming down from somewhere and there’s music coming out of nowhere,” Chase Townsend said. “I love seeing that.”

The Music Factory recently held a 50th anniversary concert, inviting old friends and loyal customers to celebrate a sustainable family business founded on the concept that music is a gift.

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“Music is what feelings sound like”

“It’s corny stuff, but music is what feelings sound like, and an instrument is like a portal to people to their souls,” Townsend, 22, said. “It’s a special thing, it really is.”

This Pearland Music Store Recently Celebrated Its 50th Anniversary

Address: 1411 E. Broadway, Pearlland

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Friday,

10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Contact information: 281-482-0100

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Steve Townsend, then in his early teens, taught guitar lessons in his father Joe’s shop in a building attached to the family home in the Hastings neighborhood of Pearland . Townsend eventually opened his own record store in 1967 at the intersection of FM 518 and Walnut Street in Pearland. In 1969, this shop, now called Music Factory, sold instruments and other musical supplies.

In the early 1970s the company moved to its current location at 1411 E. Broadway. By then, it had become something of an all-in-one music store for local musicians. And like many long-established music stores, it has ties to folklore and music legend, including a former Music Factory guitar teacher, William Eugene “Uncle Boo” Campbell, who had taught his nephew, Glenn Campbell, how to play the guitar; and something to do with the mysterious origin of Kurt Cobain’s left-handed Fender Mustang. (According to Townsend, a former guitar tech swears he can trace the guitar back to Texas and the factory, though that’s unverifiable.)

Over the years, seasoned musicians have told stories and offered advice on playing while helping customers.

For Chase Townsend, it’s all part of the store’s history and he’s proud of what his family started.

Like his father, Townsend started working at the store when he was a child.

“It’s in the blood,” he said.

Like any authentic and self-respecting music store, the Factory can seem a little chaotic at first sight: rows and rows of guitars, band and orchestral instruments, drum sets, shelves full of equipment ranging from polished practice amplifiers to wall-to-wall vibrating tube amps – all packed into a space of approximately 24,000 square feet. (The store also includes several rooms and eight instructors available for classes and repair services.)

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The store literally has guitars hanging from its rafters – new, used and vintage, the most expensive at the top.

“We’re a small company, but stuffed to the gills,” Townsend said.

The shop has added a stage for concerts in the back as a meeting place for local musicians and Townsend

It has survived successive corporate-owned music store chains over the past five decades and continues to thrive among department stores like Guitar Center and H&H Music.

“So far, so good,” says Townsend, who has gradually moved into the role of director over the past few years, with the full blessing of his father and mother, Diane, who are both still involved in day-to-day store operations.

Along with the Gibsons, Yahamas and Epiphones, Chase Townsend thinks the boutique has survived this long in part by keeping things real.

“We are known for our honesty, candor and concern for our customers,” Townsend said. “We know how important music is and we’ve always wanted to make it accessible to everyone.”

Townsend remembers what it felt like to hold his first Epiphone acoustic guitar when he watched the kids come in and stare at the guitars hanging from the rafters.

“It’s that Harry Potter ‘aha moment’ – when you hand them a guitar……it’s like magic,” he said.

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Alice P. Darby