New in town
|By Rich Tupica|
Guitar CenterGuitar Center is the largest chain music store in the world, and this week Lansing gets a store of its own. On Thursday, the California-based company opens its 242nd location in the Frandor Shopping Center with a grand opening party that’s guaranteed to catch some eyes.
“We’re going to have flood lights out there and we’ll be giving away free T-shirts all night,” said district manager Vince Mattias, a 14-year employee of the company. The grand opening party starts at 7 p.m. and goes until the store closes at 10 p.m.
Mattias oversees seven stores, including the Lansing location. He said his team is ready for a flood of musicians. One thing to keep in mind if you plan to stop by — this is a hands-on kind of store. Guitar Center is known for having much of its stock plugged in and ready to jam on.
“The store is an amazing place to demo gear,” Mattias said. “We have a large selection of guitars, drums, amplifiers, keyboards, pro audio and recording equipment. We want people to come in and play.”
The 54-year-old chain has other Michigan locations, including stores in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. The new store joins other local music shops, including Music Manor on South Cedar Street in Lansing, Elderly Instruments in Old Town, White Bros. Music in Okemos … and Marshall Music, which is practically next door on East Grand River Avenue adjacent to Frandor. Mattias said Guitar Center has a team that scouts and picks locations.
“It’s really based on what’s around the area,” Mattias said. “I don’t think it’s about a competitor at all. There are a lot of great things in Frandor. A great mix of stores and restaurants, and it’s centrally located.”
But the Lansing location will have one thing that no other Guitar Center in the state has: a separate studio space devoted to teaching music lessons. A representative from the studio said that professional local instructors have been hired to provide private music lessons through one of two packages: the standard plan ($199 per month) gets you four one-hour lessons per week in one of the studio’s six lesson rooms, plus an additional hour of open class time that allows students to meet with different instructors and experiment with other students or learn specific songs. The express plan ($99) is similar, but you only get four half-hour sessions per week in addition to the hour of open class time. Lessons range from band and orchestra to vocals and keyboards.
Guitar Center has also been headed upwards, according to Mattias.
“We’re continuing to grow, and that’s what we plan on doing,” he said. And while it’s only been public a short while, he said Guitar Center has had its eye on Lansing for years.
“Since 2004 or 2005, I decided we needed to put a store in Lansing,” Mattias said. “I think it has a great community, a great college, there’s a good atmosphere and a lot of music happening in Lansing. I just thought it was a place we needed to get to.”
Meanwhile, word has it that Marshall Music is planning a massive interior renovation of its own this spring, which means Lansing may be cultivating a new image as a music hub. Stay tuned.