MANSFIELD — Young students trying instruments they haven’t learned to play yet isn’t most people’s favorite sound. But for Larry Miller, it’s one of his favorite parts of owning Metronome Music.
“To a lot of people, it doesn’t mean anything, but I know their life is going to be changed,” the 89-year-old Miller said. “I love helping a child get started and see their eyes light up bright when they make the first sound.”
Metronome Music has a large rental program for school band instruments, as well as rooms filled with guitars, orchestra instruments and sound equipment.
Miller attributes his willingness to change as the secret to keeping his music store open. He bought Metronome Music 60 years ago, in 1962, “back when The Beatles were really getting started,” he said.
When customers wanted Beatles regalia, Miller carried the band’s sheet music and Vox amps. When Metronome saw piano sales decrease, the team shrunk its piano inventory and added keyboards and drum equipment to the piano room.
Now that ukuleles are popular, Metronome displays a selection among its walls of guitars.
“I’m an opportunist,” Miller said. “When I bought the store, I had never touched a violin and bow, but now, you go with your opportunities and see what’s happening. We’re not stuck in the past.”
Miller still comes into his store almost every day. Metronome Music has about 21 employees including music teachers and repair technicians. General manager Chris Stecker has worked at Metronome since 1991, where he started as a piano mover.
“The nice thing about working here is Mr. Miller makes us feel like it’s our store,” Stecker said. “I’ve always felt that we have the ability to do whatever we want here, with the idea that if Mr. Miller doesn’t like it, we’ll change it back.”
Metronome has robust website sales, where Stecker said is where most of the more expensive products sell. Metronome is Fender’s largest guitar dealer in Ohio.
“We’re a full line store, meaning we carry a little bit of everything,” Stecker said.
Because Metronome has an eclectic collection, salespeople have to know basic details about each instrument. Miller generally requires staff members to know how to play at least one instrument, and said multiple staff members play professionally outside of work.
“Kindness to the employees and customers is very important to me,” Miller said.
Stecker said he has seen Metronome Music grow its inventory and customer base in his 30 years at the store, and often sees repeat customers.
“I’ve been here long enough that I feel like I know all of our customers and I feel like I’m just talking to friends,” he said.
Stecker, Miller and their staff began planning for the 60th anniversary celebrations of the store this summer. Each day through Nov. 19, Metronome will have a new sale, and have a store-wide anniversary sale Nov. 19.
The kickoff anniversary sale was a free gig bag with any Fender Squier guitar purchase Nov. 2. Daily sales are announced on Metronome Music’s Facebook page.
Metronome hosted a guitar clinic with YouTube instructor Robert Baker Saturday and will offer free guitar restringings Nov. 12 in exchange for Richland County Humane Society donations.
Miller said he is grateful for the business he’s received from Mansfield and beyond.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize this is kind of a jewel of a music store,” he said. “I can’t imagine not being here.”