Music Store Owner Manlius Braves Troubling Times – Eagle News Online
CITY OF MANLIUS — Before Terry Vickery could get into the instrument retail business, it was essential that he was a music lover.
Born into a family full of singers, the 71-year-old Pompey resident’s affection for rock, pop and blues seemed to last a lifetime, but it grew stronger in an instant after seeing the Beatles on the “Ed Sullivan Show” when he was a teenager. Soon after, his dad gave him a single-pickup Norma guitar for Christmas, a purchase that came with six free lessons from a local instructor.
From there, Vickery performed with a group of friends at Fayetteville-Manlius school dances while studying the ways of electric guitarist Jeff Beck and finger maker Leo Kottke.
Later, his time working for Gerber Music, Onondaga Music and Bonnie Music intertwined with finding a place in Liverpool where he and his ex-wife could open their own music equipment store.
Located initially in a lettable space attached to a barbershop on the corner of Pearl Street and Old Liverpool Road, the Bebop Shop, as it was known, is fondly remembered by Vickery for its local late-night television adverts, which can still be seen in the form of YouTube clips.
Eventually the store took over the entire building, but Vickery agreed to a buyout in 1989 that left him looking for another business.
As a single parent in 1996, he was able to draw ideas from those earlier workplaces and redirect his retirement money to open Beat Street Music, the Manlius store he still operates today.
“I told myself that I was buying a job in a field that I love,” he says. “I couldn’t dream of a better life.”
With no current plans to retire any time soon, Vickery enjoys his “primo” spot on often busy East Seneca Street and the interactions he has with patrons in Onondaga County, Madison County and beyond.
As for the inventory inside his store, there are several hundred instruments in stock at any one time, and his selection includes something for just about everyone: harmonicas, flageolets, drum pedals , amplifiers, banjos, a hanging row of ukuleles and walls lined with guitars.
To form such a comfort zone, Vickery hoarded supplies from trade shows, lone vendors, and big sellers, while viewing Beat Street as a farm and his instruments on display as cultures.
“A successful farm keeps growing,” he said. “There’s an old saying that if you don’t grow, you die.”
Additionally, Vickery takes pride in his careful mechanics work, pointing to his internal repairs and the separate accommodations he offers like bridge adjustments and fingerboard polishes.
During the days of COVID, Beat Street remained open and kept its hours the same as it became a stable, go-to source for young and old who viewed quarantine orders as an excuse to learn a new instrument.
“Think about it: the government is telling everyone they have to stay home,” Vickery said. “You’ll start to think to yourself, ‘Hey, I’ve always wanted to learn how to play this.’ That was one of the real bright spots, regardless of whether people really wanted to get good or were just looking to find a hobby to pass the time.
While he acknowledges the influx of guitar tab websites and online discussion forums, he said his personal advice, industry experience and face-to-face approach is what sets him apart and helps guide visitors to choose the most suitable instrument. their interest and style.
“An expert can sound off a piece of junk, but a beginner needs all the help they can get,” Vickery said.
For those looking to emulate the best and practice age-old compositions, the shop always has a shelf full of sheet music and songbooks at the main entrance.
For 26 years, Vickery’s insistence on reinvesting profits directly back into the business has been another key through challenges such as supply chain crises and inflation, as has his “modus operandi” for avoid any practice that deprives him of a good night’s sleep.
One of the marks in his head that keeps him going, he says, is giving away one item for free every day. Depending on the circumstances, this may be a pen or expensive equipment.
As Beat Street’s only full-time employee these days, Vickery admits he misses working alongside people like his accountant, friend and fellow musician, the late Mike Casale, whom he considered a ” remarkable and special human being”.
Despite losses, competition, and everything that comes his way, Vickery instead focuses on enjoying what he does and does his best day to day until the second he locks himself up.