Ricky Bright is opening his own guitar store, The Upper Bout, in the Whiteline building at 723 S. Neil St., C.
The store carries guitars, basses, amplifiers and other accessories and offers lessons, repair services and performance space.
Bright, who formerly managed The Music Shoppe and Samuel Music stores in Champaign, decided to go into business for himself after Samuel Music closed its local store last summer.
"I was blessed to see how things were done properly and not so properly," he said of his years in management. "I had a certain vision that was never supported by other people, and now I'm going to pursue it on my own."
Bright said he will carry midrange to high-end guitars, including Gibson and Fender brands. He'll also sell Yamaha pianos, as well as banjos and mandolins.
Brian Miller, Shannon Schmidt and Bill Kirby round out the staff.
Guitar, voice, piano and bass guitar lessons will be given in the shop's teaching studios. Bright said he has two teachers lined up so far and hopes to expand to four or five in the next couple months.
The Upper Bout is in the northeast corner of the Whiteline building — the same building that houses El Toro restaurant, The Gaming Goat and Crossroads Corner Consignment as well as upstairs condominiums.
Bright suggests that customers enter the building from the parking lot west of the building, then follow the signs to The Upper Bout.
The name, Bright said, refers to the upper widening on acoustic or electric instruments.
"It's the last chamber the sound bounces around in before it hits your ear," he said.
Store hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays.
The Upper Bout will have its grand opening Saturday, starting at 11 a.m. Guests can enter a drawing that day for a Gibson Les Paul Melody Maker guitar, which is Manhattan Midnight blue. The drawing will be held at 5 p.m., and the winner must be present at the time of the drawing, Bright said.
Refreshments will be served that day.
The store's phone number is 607-8132, and its Web address is theupperbout.com.
Champaign Cycle in Urbana
That's right — after 45 years in business, Champaign Cycle is planning to open a store in downtown Urbana.
Owner Peter Davis said the business will open a shop at 110 S. Race St., U, to be known as Champaign Cycle in Urbana.
It will provide most of the services provided at the firm's flagship location, 506 S. Country Fair Drive, C, and will be managed by Davis' son, Alex Hegeman-Davis.
"We'd like to be open March 1," Davis said, adding that a grand opening is planned for March 29.
"We had a lot of regular customers asking for an Urbana location," Davis said. "We were looking for a location, and the back half of the Knowlton-Bennett building was available. It's a building I've loved for 40 years."
The space once housed the Fleurish flower shop before it moved to downtown Champaign.
The edifice features fluted columns and beams, 12-foot ceilings and terrazzo floors, he said. It also has "exquisite walnut cabinetry," Davis said, and the store plans to have a custom-made counter echoing that wood detail.
Davis said the store will likely have a staff of four. The only services it won't have are specific bike-fitting services offered only at the Champaign location, he said.
Urbana hours are expected to be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.
Davis said Champaign Cycle opened in 1969 on Country Fair Drive in Champaign and has had two other locations through the years.
From 1972 to 1988, the business had a location on campus at 403 E. Green St., C, and from 1983 to 1985, it had a shop on East Washington Street in Urbana.
The Urbana store's phone number will be 355-5700. The firm's Web address is champaigncycle.com.
New store at Market Place
Work is underway on a new Journeys Kidz store at Champaign's Market Place Shopping Center. It will be located between the existing Journeys store and Auntie Anne's in the Bergner's wing of the mall.
The space was previously occupied by The Body Shop, which recently closed.
Journeys manager Chris Coile said the store is expected to open about Feb. 15. It will carry kids' shoes, clothing and accessories, from toddler to youth sizes. Joanna Vaughn will be the manager for Journeys Kidz.
Journeys and Journeys Kidz are both brands of Journeys Group, part of Nashville-based Genesco Inc.
That company operates more than 2,500 retail stores in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
So long, Sears
If nostalgia is your thing, you may want to wander the Sears store at Champaign's Market Place Shopping Center today.
Today is scheduled to be the last day of business for the store, according to Market Place general manager Dennis Robertson.
"There is no additional information on plans for the space," Robertson said. In early 2012, Sears arranged with the mall's owner, General Growth Properties, to get out of its lease in Champaign and several other locations.
Sears formally opened the 150,000-square-foot store at Market Place on Oct. 15, 1975. Before moving there, Sears was located on North Hickory Street in downtown Champaign.
According to a 1950 article in The News-Gazette, Sears opened its local store on Nov. 18, 1928 — only three years after Sears moved into retailing. Before that, Sears, Roebuck & Co. had been a mail-order firm.
In another development at Market Place, Robertson said the mall expects to announce a new tenant soon for the space across from Forever 21.
In Iroquois County ...
Northern Illinois Alliance in Crescent City has acquired the agronomy supply operation of Kaufman Ag Services in Onarga, according to a company release.
Kent Kaufman, owner of Kaufman Ag Services, will continue with Northern Illinois Alliance as the sales and plant manager.
Northern Illinois Alliance is a joint venture between Minneapolis-based CHS Inc., a farmer-owned cooperative, and Elburn Cooperative, an ag supply cooperative in Sycamore.
Contact Don Dodson at 351-5227 or 800-252-3346; by email at email@example.com; or by regular mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.