Nadine's Music in Hollywood has made a name for itself as a store "for musicians by musicians." But the guitarists it caters to will soon have to find another store to fill their needs.
After 22 years of providing instruments and equipment to rock 'n'roll legends and garage bands alike, Nadine's Music is closing its doors possibly as soon as mid-October, or whenever its remaining stock is sold.
Store owners blamed competition from discounters such as Guitar Center Inc. and a decline in business from a variety of other factors, including a changing customer base.
"Kids are turning away from music and spending more time on computers, creating Web pages and animation," said Jerry Klein, who has managed the store on Santa Monica Boulevard for 20 years.
"There is less live music in L.A.," agreed Derek Dammers, the store's owner. "Clubs are focusing on disco and electronic music. And school music programs have almost completely shut down. Not as many people need instruments anymore."
Nadine's Music opened in 1975, when Dammers, a guitar player who dealt in rare and vintage guitars out of his home, went into business with partner Bob Truman. Over the years, Nadine's expanded to focus on new and used instruments and equipment. Truman left the company in 1984.
The store's collection of rare vintage guitars made it popular among rock stars. Customers have included Joe Walsh, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan, according to Dammers and Klein. And after a decade's absence from the mainstream, members of Fleetwood Mac stopped by last month to buy equipment for their reunion tour.
"We have salesmen who knew the instruments from first-hand experience and skipped the hard sell," Klein said. "Our customers appreciated that."
By the late 1980s, Nadine's had expanded to four stores: the flagship store in Hollywood, one in Reseda, and two in Hawaii.
But the expansion proved troublesome. Because of the recession, the Hawaii stores were closed in 1992. Business at the Hollywood store suffered following the 1992 Los Angeles riots. And the Reseda store was closed after suffering major damage in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
Ultimately, a steady decline in market demand which has hurt many small music businesses led to the decision this month to shutter Nadine's.
"It has become harder and harder for small business to stay alive," Dammers said. "The larger companies, like Guitar Center, target communities and get a stronger toe-hold in the market. The environment is becoming more oppressive for small businesses like ours."
Dammers does not plan to leave the small business scene permanently. He already is looking around for his next opportunity in the music scene. As Nadine's Music winds down, customers, suppliers and friends have been dropping by to say good-bye.
"It's been a long run," said Dammers. "And it has been a lot of fun."
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