0

The Last Note: After nearly 4 decades, Tara Music's shutting its doors

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Electric guitars in their racks on the wall have bright pink tags stuck between strings.

Signs saying "Huge Sale" plaster the front window and mark each item inside Tara Music Center .

"We're selling everything but the carpet and the ceiling tiles, and I'm not sure about the carpet -- I only put it in a couple of years ago. If somebody wants it, they can bring a knife," said Troy Bryant, owner of Tara Music Center.

After 38 years, the Jonesboro music store is shutting down. Bryant said he plans to lock the 8600 Tara Blvd., door for the last time on Aug. 2.

"It's just time," said Bryant. "I was thinking of going and doing other things and, with the economy, it seemed like maybe it was the ideal time to go ahead and make my exit."

Before taking over at Tara Music, Bryant was a high school band leader. Originally from Quitman, Ga., he played the guitar as a boy, and took up drums in school. He decided he was going to be a band director when he was in the seventh grade.

"And I was," he said.

He did that for about 12 years, before buying Tara Music from the original owner in 1987.

Bryant said he's sold a lot of musical instruments to students in bands, and he also sold, sometimes, to students he taught back in the late 1970s and early '80s.

"Some of them, now, they're in their 40s," Bryant said, "but they'll come back just because they know me. That's rewarding. That's a part of just still being in business and being in the community."

For Bryant, the best part of being in the musical instrument business, however, has been access to the instruments themselves.

"The coolest thing is getting to be around great musical instruments," he said. "The stuff other people just get to dream about, I get to play around with. Like a Paul Reed Smith [guitar]. Each one is different, and some of them take your breath away. You take it out of the box and you're like, 'Wow. Look at this.'"

Business has been difficult, though, since people began buying off of the Internet. The sales of used instruments plummeted, with the rise of E-bay's online auctions.

Bryant said he thought, early on, that the store would be able to hold it's own, against the discounts and endless competition of the Internet, because he could offer education and he could let people hold the instruments in their hands. Instead, he said, people came into the store, talked to the sales people, held the instrument, and then bought them off of the Internet.

"They'd even come in here, after, to tell us how they found it for $20 less online. That was awful. I don't know how you say that nicely," Bryant said.

With recent concerns about a recession, with unemployment rates and gas prices rising, Bryant said he decided to get out of the business.

"If the right person came along, I'd sell the business," he said, "but only if the right person came along, because I want the name to mean something."

Bryant announced late last week that he's selling everything at discounted prices. Everything's been liquidated, he said, and has to be gone by Aug. 2.

"It's the end of an era," he said, "but I wanted to be able to leave on my own terms."