Georgia Music Store closes after 79 years in business



Steve Shepherd assists a client on the last day of Chick Music on Wednesday December 15, 2021 in Athens, Georgia. Chick Music, a staple of the local music community, is closing due to the retirement of the Shepherd family after 79 years in business. (Kayla Renie / Athens Banner-Herald via AP)


When Chick Music opened at 11 a.m. on December 15, customers were already waiting to take advantage of the reduced prices and strike up a friendly chat with employees.

If you missed the “Retirement Sale” signs in the window, it might have looked like a typical Athens holiday shopping afternoon.

It was the last day of activity for Chick Music, a family-owned musical instrument store that opened in 1942 in a store on College Avenue, where Lewis Chick tuned pianos in the basement. After joining the staff in 1947, Billy Shepherd and his wife, Anne, bought the business in 1963 and moved to 240 W. Clayton St. four years later.

As the second generation of Shepherds to lead Chick Music, Steve, Van and Christy have spent decades treating shop customers like family, and their retirement is hard earned and well deserved. On closing day, Steve was busy fixing a violin brought in for maintenance; Christy was on the register; and Van went back and forth between the sales area and the reception desk.

“This place is part of the musical history of Athens, but it was the people who came here who made it that way,” Van said. “We appreciate everyone who came today.”

One of the patrons who stopped by to pay tribute to Chick Music was Ken Richardson of Athens hip-hop legends Lo Down and Duddy, whose plaque on the Athens Music Walk of Fame is encrusted in the sidewalk just outside the outside the store. Richardson brought a pizza for the staff donated by Little Italy and shared stories of spending hours in the keyboard room in the early 1990s.

“It’s bittersweet for me to be here today,” said Richardson. “I learned to make beats on the Alesis SR16 drum machine they were selling here, and no one ever bothered me or asked me to leave. When I got my first tax return I went in and bought it.

Although the walls that were once lined with guitars and musical instruments were mostly bare, there were still plenty of accessories like drum heads, mic stands, and various cables for visitors to lean over. , as well as several sheet music books in the back room. .

Staff member Braxton Thompson, who has worked at Chick Music for more than a decade, said shepherds and their employees would likely share their tearful farewells when the store closes and they start moving shelves and counters. When asked what he was going to do next, Thompson said he plans to teach music and perform in concerts in the New Year.

In the family spirit that the shepherds learned from their mother and father, Van said that he, his brother and his sisters would not be fully out for a few weeks.

“Just knock on the window if you need something,” Van said.


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