, Salem, MA


November 7, 2012

Drumming up business

Local music shops have been dying out, but young couple hopes to buck the trend


Paul Ouellette & Sons Pianos has been in business since 1946 and is run by the founder’s sons, Larry and Ron. Larry Ouellette said business is tougher these days because many public schools have cut their music programs, leaving the industry with fewer potential customers.

“The older generation is downsizing and getting rid of their pianos, trumpets and violins because there’s nobody taking it up,” he said. “When I got home from school, you used to sit down and practice the piano for half an hour. Now the kids come home, and they sit down at the computer.”

Ouellette cited last year’s closing of Ted Cole’s Music Shop, which had been a landmark in downtown Salem for more than 50 years, as an example of the changing times.

“That was an institution,” he said.

The Morrisons are well aware of the obstacles they face in their new venture. Nathan Morrison, 27, said local music stores must embrace the Internet if they want to survive. Online sales will encompass as much as 65 percent of his business at The Drum Shop, he said.

Morrison is also partnering with his former employer, The Drum Shop in Portland, Maine, to reduce the cost of shipping equipment to his store.

The last few months have been a whirlwind for the Morrisons. They graduated from college last summer (Nathan from the University of Southern Maine, Marissa from Gordon College), got married in July, and opened the store in October.

“It’s not going to be for lack of trying if we go down,” Nathan said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make this a cool drum shop for people.”

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or

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