Music with “Staying Power”

Photo by Adrian Stanley.Photo by Adrian Stanley.

Guitars line the walls, pianos sit on the floor, and the sounds of brass and woodwind instruments can be heard emanating from the teaching rooms in the back. The welcoming atmosphere of Coffey Music is apparent upon entrance, and that is just what its owner, Bob Coffey wants.

Coffey Music, located at 31 East Main Street in Westminster, is a staple of the town and a long-standing member of Main Street, opening in 1984. The fact that Coffey Music ever even opened its doors is a miracle in and of itself; Coffey would be the first to tell you that.

“I never had any aspirations of opening a music store,” said Coffey. “I was working for Mr. Christy at Christy Music, and he asked me if I wanted to manage the store, I said yes.”

Coffey is a man that loves what he does and has years of experience doing it. And while he may have gained some grey hair along with his experience, he still maintains the energy and passion of youth.

Things did not work out well for Christy, as he was forced to file for bankruptcy and close his shop.

“I was out looking for a possible new space for Mr. Christy at the time, when the leasing agent turned to me and said, ‘Bob, why are you doing this? Why not open your own store?’” Coffey recounted. “I didn’t have any business degrees, I graduated from Towson with a music engineering degree, but the deal I got from the leasing company was too good.”

Starting with humble beginnings just a few doors down in the Winchester Exchange Building, Coffey slowly built up his business.

“When we started, it was only 800 square feet,” Coffey said. “We started small and have just grown and grown and grown.”

Though he may have started small—one employee and six teaching rooms—he now has 12 employees and 22 teaching rooms.

Recent McDaniel graduate Najee Banks now also works at Coffey Music.

“Working here is what you would expect from working at a music store,” Banks said. “You actually have a good time, and Mr. Coffey really cares about us as musicians.”

A large portion of the store’s business comes from rentals, especially during “rental season,” when parents bring their kids in to rent their instruments for school.

“The store can get hectic with all the customers, but Mr. Coffey always remains calm,” Banks said. “He’s always looking out for the parents and the kids. The monthly rental payments are actually pretty moderate and we let them return at any time.”

The store is often filled with customers, all there for varying reasons. Some are just looking around, some are renting, and some are there for lessons.

William Barkowicz was stationed at a piano on the floor on a recent afternoon. He put his fingers on the keys and before you could blink the store was filled with the sound of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home.”

“I get lessons here,” Barkowicz said. “I enjoy the atmosphere and love playing the instruments. I come on all the time.”

The store also hosts events fairly regularly. Every first and third Friday of the month Coffey’s hosts an “Open-Bluegrass Night” from 6-8 p.m.

“A couple years ago, a customer suggested it,” Coffey said. “We clear the floor out and it’s a fun time.”

Although the store has been around for 32 years, not everything is the same.

“The internet has changed everything,” Coffey said. “We don’t have a huge presence on the internet, we still conduct most of our business in the store, but advertising is entirely different. I used to buy an ad in the Carroll County Times, now it’s all on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.”

Coffey has been in this business for a long time and shows no signs of slowing down.