Samuel Music to close Champaign store

Samuel Music to close Champaign store

CHAMPAIGN — Samuel Music plans to close its store at 1006 W. Anthony Drive, C, on June 15, as the Effingham-based company refocuses its efforts on school band instruments.

Regional manager Liz Roepke said a store closing sale will begin May 31 and continue through June 8.

All accessories and print music will be priced 50 percent off, and "deep discounts" will be offered on pianos, guitars, amplifiers, drums and sound gear.

Four employees in Champaign will lose their jobs as a result of the closing, and three employees in Effingham will lose jobs due to a similar closing there.

Several music instructors offer lessons at the Champaign store, and "those teachers are planning to get other locations to give lessons," Roepke said. The instructors are not employees of Samuel Music, but independent contractors who rent studio space there.

In a release from the company, owner Dean Samuel said, "Our full-line retail model is no longer viable in Champaign, and we are going back to our initial focus of providing superior service and sales support to students, both through band and lessons."

Samuel Music was founded in 1946 in Effingham by Dean Samuel's father, Lowell Samuel. The company started out as a school band retailer.

The business grew to have retail stores with a broad mix of music merchandise throughout Illinois. But it eventually left smaller markets in Mattoon, Robinson, Casey, Salem and Vincennes, Ind., to concentrate on the markets of Effingham, Champaign and Springfield.

Samuel Music acquired the Byerly Music store in Champaign in 1995 and moved to the location on Anthony Drive in 1997.

Samuel Music will continue to have a warehouse and service facility for band instruments in Effingham, Roepke said. The company will also continue to have representatives who visit schools to service instruments.

"Families will still be able to rent instruments from us through the schools," she said.

The Springfield store will continue to be a full-line retail music store for a while, Roepke said. That store has tended to be "combo-centered," focusing on guitars, drums and amplifiers, but at some point the business will also focus on band instruments.

As a result of the changes announced this week, Samuel Music's employment — which stands at just under 30 — will dwindle to about 20, she said.

Roepke described changes in the market that prompted Samuel to close the stores.

"The piano market has been in decline for the past four years," she said, attributing that to a weak economy. "A piano is not a need."

The guitar, drum and amplifier market has remained steady, but competition in that field continues to increase, she said.

"Monitoring for pricing and competition requires so much labor, it's not cost-effective for us to remain in that," she said.

As for print music, Samuel assumes at some point it will go completely digital.

"It's no different from a book," she said.

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