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Local music store shutting down after almost 50 years


By Pete Christopher



Smith-Holden Music has weathered economic downturns in the past, but after serving the community for 47 years, the music store is closing down.

The store will be running a liquidation sale through its scheduled closing date Oct. 10. The current economic climate has proven too costly to maintain business, said 74-year-old owner George Holden.

“If I were 50, I would just cut back inventory and stick this out,” he said. “I don’t want to take another year’s loss. This is the time to get out.”

In addition to selling musical instruments and music paraphernalia, Smith-Holden also runs a studio that provides music lessons for 220 students. Of the 13 teachers working in the studio, five are IU graduate students.

“I’ve been here for 47 years, and we’ve always had a tremendous connection with all University people,” Holden said.

Kelley Brown, spokesperson for the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, said that Smith-Holden’s closing is not a harbinger of further economic trouble for local retailers.

“Bloomington itself is insulated, and has fared this economic downturn fairly well,” Brown said.

Smith-Holden Music is not a member of the Chamber.

Talisha Coppock, the executive director of Downtown Bloomington, Inc., acknowledged that development has slowed down recently.

“We got used to strong investment over the last six years. We were experiencing about 30 new businesses a year. So compared with that, we have slowed a bit,” she said.

According to Downtown Bloomington, Inc., the overall vacancy rate for businesses in Bloomington remains under 3 percent. Still, Coppock recognizes the symbolism of
Smith-Holden’s closing.

“It is really sad, they are a long-time backbone of downtown,” she said.

George Holden is quick to point out that the hardest part about closing his business will be laying off the employees.

“The worst part is that we’re just about to put another 20 people out of business,” he said.

Holden hopes to sell all remaining inventory, along with the building that Smith-Holden Music is housed in, which he also owns. He said he is confident that the inventory can be sold in time, since the fall is typically the busiest time.

As for the building, Holden is hopeful that he can find a buyer, despite the economic climate that is forcing his business out.

“I’ve had about eight people who want to buy it, so I don’t think it will be a problem,” he said. “We have a whole lot to do before we even think about that.”

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