When I was growing up, my dad told me several times that I should go visit Stan’s Guitar Shop. The store was about a mile or so from my house and was a tiny space that specialized in bluesy rock. Filled with history and atmosphere, it was the kind of place that every town needs but few actually have.
Or, at least, that’s what I was told. The truth is I never got around to visiting Stan’s. I was a teenager with other things on my mind and though I loved music I thought I had all the time in the world. I didn’t, of course, and even before I moved away for college the shop closed forever. I’ll never really know what I missed.
Running a retail business has only become more difficult in the years since Stan’s closed and the mom-and-pop shops that have survived through Herculean efforts add something irreplaceable to the community. As I’ve written many times on this blog, they circulate more money back into the local economy than larger chains. Perhaps more importantly, they provide crucial gathering points, unique services, and “experiential shopping” in which buying something becomes more about exploration.
The Great Salt Lake Guitar Company in downtown is exactly that kind of store. Located on Center Street, it’s both a workshop and retail space. Among other things, the family-run shop sells hand made guitars, hosts shows, and (as I can attest) offers free advice. It’s a remarkable place to have anywhere, and it’s one worth fighting for.
As I learned years ago from Stan’s, a city’s retail community is neither static nor immune to difficulty. I also learned that it’s important not to postpone visiting these kinds of businesses; if everyone shares that attitude they die, as Stan’s did.
Along those lines, the Provo community will have an opportunity to experience and support The Great Salt Lake Guitar Company tonight during a benefit concert. Truth be told, I don’t know a lot about this show, other than that it has a great lineup.
But that’s almost beside the point. Ultimately, the great thing about this show is that it gives us a chance to support an amazing business now and help ensure that it’s around in the future.