When it comes landmark businesses that have propagated both the growth and sustenance of the musical community in the Great Lakes Bay region, Mid-Michigan Music has withstood the test of time to set both the tone and the timbre for what the blueprint of a full-service musical instrument and professional audio company should looks & sound like that has resonated successfully for 30 years.
Under the stewardship of original owner Rick Allen, this bedrock of the musical community survived not only traditional business challenges, but succeeded as one of the few independent and ‘Michigan Made’ musical retail outlets left standing in a region that was once populated with dozens of locally owned operations.
The legacy of Mid-Michigan Music reached an epochal crossroads two years ago, when new owner Steve Meyers – a familiar face and force within the regional musical community – took over the helm and started infusing the business with fresh blood and fresher ideas; and now, Meyers has transitioned the business into an expansive and impressive new location at 118 S. Hamilton Street in the heart of Old Town Saginaw.
“In one word it feels like HOME,” states Steve in the manner of a finely tuned musician whereby you catch the resonance of every syllable in the word. “It feels so good to be in Old Town; to be back in the history.”
And as you walk into the embracing arms of the entry-way, one sees how deeply that history resonates within Steve’s consciousness: from the old black & white photographs of legendary local artists framing the entranceway walls, to the hand-painted guitars that he asked select businesses throughout the district to express themselves with, Steve’s mission is one of fostering appreciation towards the instruments that he sells and services, equally with the goal of accommodating the needs of musicians that become inspired to create with those instruments.
“We really are ‘the locals’, states Steve as he articulates his main reason for the move from Midland. “I live five blocks away and have been coming down to experience the music and excitement here in Old Town for 30-years plus. This is where we work and where we live.”
While 20 years ago the region was fortunate to have a half dozen or more of independently owned all-purpose independent musical instrument stores and Bay City still has Herter Music, which mainly focuses upon piano & band instruments, Mid- Michigan Music stands on singular ground as one of only independent all-purpose ‘rock ‘n roll’ stores left in the region; and Steve is acutely conscious of the importance of remaining true to servicing the needs of musicians throughout the region & beyond. “Basically, we’re in a triangle and Saginaw is one of the points,” notes Steve. “I’ve clocked it off and door-to-door from our old store in Midland we are 22.75 miles away; and from Bay City its only 20.4 miles.”
With over 4,000 square feet of floor space on each of the three floors at the new Old Town location, the possibilities for expansion into new territories is immense. “While our Midland location had a much larger showroom and floor, we have a lot more total space here, which presents some interesting possibilities,” reflects Steve.
“At the front of the store is my desk and office because I feel the owner of the company should sit at the front door. There’s something I like about that. My job isn’t to sell people stuff but to play the gracious host and make sure they are taken care of, which I intend to do.”
With a layout that showcases guitars, amplifiers, and instruments in the main showroom, there is also an acoustic showroom and space towards the back whose use is yet to be determined. “I’m going to let the customers tell me what grows into this store,” states Steve. “Feedback from the customers will tell us whether we want to start taking more inventory of keyboards or band instrument or PA equipment into the mix. But I kind of like the idea of having an area of showroom that’s a blank slate; and taking the temperature of the customers coming in, and meeting their needs. That’s what it’s all about.”
“The second floor if for lessons and performance,” he continues, “so phase two of our project will be to frame in the lesson rooms and establish larger group rooms for ensembles and rock-type instruction. We’re shooting for 7-8 lesson rooms for guitar, keys, percussion, brass & woodwinds, vocals & strings; and have access to instructors that can teach every instrument there is. We also want more students and instructors to grow that out to its full potential.”
“But what I’m really excited about is that we’ll also be featuring a small performance venue on the second floor, mainly for student recitals, clinics, and workshops, and will have the ability to set it up for small public performances. The fact this was a vaudeville theatre long ago made me want it even more. Being a huge history and preservation buff, taking an old building and making it usable and presentable again is what’ I’m all about. In fact, I’d like to call the 2nd story performance venue ‘The Wolverine’, in honor of the original venue.”
In the two years since he took over the helm at Mid-Michigan Music have things evolved or changed differently with the process of advancing the entity? “The industry had already changed when I got into it,” explains Steve, “so now I see my role with the company is to make sure its fully adapted to the way the industry has evolved. Without doubt the internet revolutionized not just our history but the entire music industry, which is definitely in a period of contraction, and there are multiple reasons for that.”
“There are still plenty of young kids and lots of passion going on out there, but a whole different delivery system is involved now; and it’s not always about a guy playing a guitar anymore. There was a time where you got a guitar, found a drummer, and formed a traditional 4-piece rock band; and while that’s still there, a whole lot of other stuff is going on with digital and electronic delivery systems and creativity.”
“In terms of evolution the musical ear is growing,” he continues. “Tons of kids love music and the creativity & level of talent grows every day, especially with kids using laptops and sampling machines. It’s easy to grumble and say ‘I was raised to play guitar and that’s not music’; but there are some geniuses out there putting notes together in beautiful ways on a laptop. And gorgeous music stands. Somebody had a brain that could hear those notes and get them out there, regardless of the delivery system.”
In terms of product lines, Mid-Michigan Music is still one of the biggest Mesa Boogie dealers in the region; and Steve also features key new brands like G&L, which is Leo Fender’s last company. “G&L is more Fender than Fender now,” laughs Steve. “He sold the original Fender company he founded and kept going at innovating and building better designs. G&L is his pinnacle.”
In addition to expanding his online inventory for sales, some of the instructors Steve has lined up at Mid-Michigan include Michael Beeckman from Treblemakers, along with Jim Perkins, and Noel Howland is planning on coming in to handle keyboard instruction. “We’re talking with a few other people in the Midland area that are looking to re-locate and expand and are still looking for more instructors. I’d like to see our student head count quadruple over the next few months. We have a huge potential for growth here,” adds Steve.
We still do a lot of church and audio design work & installation as well,” notes Steve. “I do free consultations and any church in the area that requires any type of audio services we can do a free walk through, analyze the space, and go from there.”
“But mainly, I want to impress upon people as much as possible our connection to the Old Town area in general,” concludes Steve. “The vibe down here is amazing; especially how welcome we have felt. The energy down here is amazing and we’re in love with it. I’ve never felt more welcome to be in a place.”
“The one word to describe it really is ‘home’.
Mid-Michigan Music is now located at 118 S. Hamilton St. in Old Town Saginaw. Hours are Monday – Thursday from 11 am – 8 pm; Friday, 11 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 11 am – 4 pm. You can phone them at 989-401-2201 and visit them online at midmichiganmusic.com