North Carolina’s oldest music store sees business surge

NEW BERN, NC — The pandemic has prompted many people to take up new hobbies, and perhaps one of the most popular is learning a new instrument. In turn, these instrument sales have helped some music stores survive the pandemic.

What do you want to know

  • Fuller’s Music was founded in 1905 and is North Carolina’s oldest music store.
  • The music industry has rebounded during COVID-19 because more people are buying small items like instruments when making smaller purchases.
  • Fuller’s Music survived by following digital online streaming platforms.

David Rhodes has always had a passion for music. He started playing the guitar at the age of 12, a passion that eventually led him from playing guitar to making his own. He designs his guitars in a workshop at the back of Fuller’s Music. However, they rarely make it to the shelves because most of them are bought before they are even finished.

Rhodes started working at Fuller’s Music 27 years ago and now owns the place.

Fuller’s Music was founded in 1905 and is North Carolina’s oldest music store. Although COVID-19 has brought many challenges, Rhodes says those challenges will never stop the music.

“We’ve been through a lot of things, you know, the Great Depression and many recessions, including the one we’re in now,” he says.

Rhodes says the music industry has actually rebounded nationwide, which has been repeated in past recessions.

Fuller’s Music has largely survived by revamping its digital platforms and evolving to meet modern technology. Throughout the pandemic, certain markets like religious worship groups have come to them for the equipment they need for online streaming.

“We are excited about it. And we’re excited to get things back to normal, but we’re also realistic and we know it will take time,” Rhodes said.

Many music stores don’t keep their employees long enough to be trained in instrument repair, but Fuller’s Music is different. Rhodes and its employees believe in the emotional and physical benefits of playing music and want to share these gifts with others.

“Musical instruments are very different from today’s highly addictive digital media instruments…they won’t reward you with shiny little treats like social media.” You know, but what it will do for you is reward you with the ability to create something really wonderful inside and share it with other people,” he says.

Fuller’s Music is located in Craven County, but has become a regional destination after more than 115 years.

Alice P. Darby