Georgia Music Store closes after 79 years in business | Georgia News

By ANDREW SHEARER, Athens Banner-Herald

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — When Chick Music opened at 11 a.m. on Dec. 15, customers were already waiting to take advantage of the discounted prices and engage in friendly conversation with the employees.

If you missed the “Retirement Sale” signs in the storefront, it might have looked like a typical Athens holiday shopping afternoon.

It was the last day of business for Chick Music, a family-run musical instrument store that opened in 1942 in a store on College Avenue, where Lewis Chick tuned pianos in the basement. After joining the staff in 1947, Billy Shepherd and his wife, Anne, purchased the business in 1963 and moved to 240 W. Clayton St. four years later.

As the second generation of Shepherds to run Chick Music, Steve, Van and Christy have spent decades treating the shop’s customers like family, and their retirement is hard-earned and well-deserved. On closing day, Steve was busy repairing a violin brought in for maintenance; Christy was on the register; and Van walked back and forth from the sales floor to the counter.

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“This place is part of Athens’ music history, but it’s the people who passed through here that made it that way,” Van said. “We appreciate everyone who came today.”

One of the patrons who stopped to pay their respects to Chick Music was Ken Richardson of Athens hip-hop legends Lo Down and Duddy, whose plaque on the Athens Music Walk of Fame is embedded in the sidewalk just outside outside the store. Richardson brought pizza for the staff donated by Little Italy and shared stories of spending hours in the keyboard room in the early 1990s.

“It’s bittersweet for me to be here today,” Richardson said. “I learned how to make beats on the Alesis SR16 drum machine they were selling here, and no one ever bothered me or asked me to leave. When I got my first tax return, I walked in and bought it.

Although the walls that were once lined with guitars and band instruments were mostly bare, there were still plenty of props like drum heads, mic stands and various cables for visitors to lean on. , as well as several books of scores in the back room. .

Staff member Braxton Thompson, who has worked at Chick Music for more than a decade, said the Shepherds and their employees would likely share a tearful goodbye when the store closed and they began to pull out the shelves and counters. When asked what he was going to do next, Thompson said he plans to teach music and play gigs in the new year.

In the family spirit the Shepherds learned from their mother and father, Van said he and his brother and sisters won’t be fully out for a few weeks.

“Just knock on the window if you need anything,” Van said.

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Alice P. Darby