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News Maryland Carroll County Westminster

Harmony in music store ownership change

Stu's Music Shop and Menchey's Music Service have been friendly competitors for years. So, when the owners — brothers Donald and Larry Myers — decided to sell the Westminster shop, it was an easy decision to turn to the music dealer based in Hanover, Pa., with stores in central Pennsylvania and Maryland.

"We knew each other very well ... a friendly and spirited competition," said Donald Myers.

The sale closed July 30, according to Joel Menchey, president of the company that has been in existence since 1936.

"It's been ongoing for some time," said Larry Myers, of the competition. "There used to be a time, especially in Hampstead and Manchester, that Hanover was the place to go to on Friday nights ... and the competition started."

Founded in 1936 in downtown Westminster on Main Street, Stu's moved to its fourth and current location on Route 140 in 1988. Named after their father, Stewart "Stu" Myers, the store became the brothers' livelihood when Myers suffered a heart attack and died in 1972. Donald was 24, Larry, 18.

"We were very fortunate to have a secretary remain at the store ... she was extremely helpful on learning how to run a business," Donald Myers said.

His younger brother started working at Stu's at age 12, cleaning the instruments.

"It's kind of how I learned the trade," Larry Myers said. "I've been doing it a long time."

As a full-line music store, Stu's sold and rented instruments, offered lessons and even had its own repair shop.

"We were well known," Larry Myers said, of the store's status with the public and in the musical world. "It was busy. As we were getting older, it was getting harder and harder to keep up."

The store's growing success as the brothers got older seemed to offer the perfect time to consider selling the business.

"Thankfully, it has gone very well," Donald Myers said. "We both thought the time was right to have some new and fresh leadership with a longer-term vision."

Menchey's plans to continue many of the services Stu's offered, as well as add some new ones, according to Menchey.

"We are expanding the lesson program. We have a vibrant lesson program," Menchey said, of his business, which operates five stores in Pennsylvania and one in Timonium, and is known for focusing on music students. "Our sincere hope is to maintain the same excellent service that Stu's had for 77 years and possibly enhance what they offered."

Both brothers plan to pursue other areas of interest. A former teacher, Donald Myers is taking classes in pastoral care while Larry Myers, who has a degree in criminology, may look into law enforcement.

"It's been quite a year, quite a roller coaster," Larry Myers said. "I will be pursing another career."

Each is proud of the business their father started and they continued.

"We've been ranked right up there as one of the longest family-run businesses in the county," Larry Myers said. "Seventy-seven years is a long time."

"I will miss just seeing how we played a part in enriching the lives [of] children and adults with their enjoyment of music," Donald Myers said. "You got a real neat glimpse of how important it was. Their passion for it and how important it was to be there for that.

"It was very gratifying."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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