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Music Loft closes off Ninth Street

The Herald-Sun reported today that The Music Loft, a long-time stalwart of the Ninth Street district from its perch on Markham Ave., closed this Saturday after just over a quarter-century in business.

The move comes less than two years after the opening of national chain Guitar Center up at Northgate Mall, a short drive from Ninth Street. It's hard for local stores to compete with the big-box retailers -- doubtlessly why Ninth Street's The Regulator breathed a sigh of relief after efforts by Northgate to attract a Barnes & Noble or Borders fell through a couple of years back.

No word on what the disposition of the property will be. Founder Jay Miller still owns the building, according to the H-S's Monica Chen, but sold the business eight years ago to another individual.



The place was horrible. It had lousy stock and the prices were ridiculous. I'm surprised this it didn't close sooner.


But it was a reliable mainstay for musicians in the area that didnt feel like giving their money to big box retailers like that monstrosity at Northgate. I cant say it's even going to last.

it's rather sad...now they have to go there


I'm beginning to understand the thought process of Ninth Street boosters after reading through some of these blogs and the occasional article in the paper. Rather than let the market decide the winners and losers, let's use our influence and soapbox to keep big box development and/or lower-priced, customer-oriented retail chains like B&N and Guitar Center from moving in. Let's pressure the developers or Duke or the city council to slow down or stop approvals so we can preserve the small-town feel from a bygone era, with general hardware stores and quaint music, book, and coffee shops abound--regardless of how expensive they are for most folks. If people can't afford to buy the musical equipment at Music Loft, or the books at the Regulator, they'll just have to get a better-paying job or move to the suburbs. After all, they're just too unsophisticated to hang around here and spoil our mojo.

They tried doing this sort of thing in Bennington and Brattleboro, VT to no avail. Yes, small-town, locally-owned shops couldn't compete, and some shut down. The vast majority of economically-strapped residents favored Walmart moving in, over the objections of a few parties interested in maintaining the status-quo. However, there were many other shops that adapted to offer the kind of atmosphere and sociability for their customers that couldn't be found at a chain store. They are still in business, the owners, core patrons, and browsing tourists are happy, and life goes on.

Places like the Music Loft and the Regulator need to adapt to these changes by providing a unique offering to its most loyal customers. They need not be afraid of the consumer who is just looking for good quality and service at the lowest price. Those people would have never been good customers anyway.

Ninth Street is a cool place. I don't shop there, but it's good thing for Durham and Duke to have. Business will come and go, and I can't see how the spot at the former Music Loft will go un-occupied for long when some smart entrepreneur finds an un-met need and a niche to fill in the local economy.

Chris R.

A Fender guitar is a Fender guitar. No matter where you buy it, it was built in the same factory in either the USA or Mexico. The lower price will always win in this case.

Now, if an independent guitar shop provides better professional assistance (in terms of sales and repair) to supplement a lower stock or counterbalance higher prices, that's a different story. Any serious musician prefers to have their set "go-to-guy" for equipment maintenance. That's where the real money is made, and Music Loft probably didn't provide any real advantage over Guitar Center in that department.


Just a point- the Regulator isn't any more expensive than B&N or Borders. In fact, most of their pricing is competitive with amazon dot com. For special orders they can't be beat. And there are very cool book worms who work there who can always point me in the direction of what I am looking for.

In fact, if you join their discount club, they are CHEAPER than the big box retailers.


One of the benefits of shopping in a small, locally owned shop is that you get very personal service from local folks who love what they sell. (Another benefit is that the money spent in a locally owned business actually stays in, and benefits your community.)
The Regulator and the Music Loft (among many other local businesses) have always had staff that was involved not just in retail, but in the community at large. Music Loft employees (and management) played in local bands and always came out to hear and support other local musicians. They provided intelligent service and information, and took great care of their customers. As a customer of (big gulp) 3 decades, I know I will miss them.

John Cole

Sorry to read about the loft's demise. The help there was spotty (often good, sometimes abyssmal), but I still bang away on a spangly little Danelectro 56-U3 I bought there for a measly $180 almost 10 years ago.


Beyond the devastating impact of ebay on stores selling used guitars, companies like Gibson are hastening the demise of independent music/instrument stores.

Gibson's strategy in the last few years has been to make big chains like Guitar Center and Sam Ash (and web sites like musiciansfriend.com) their main retail outlets.

Gibson has instituted all kinds of ridiculous rules making it nearly impossible for smaller stores to sell Gibson guitars (e.g., no advertising of prices allowed).

These days, you rarely see new Gibsons for sale outside of the handful of big chains.

Dan R

I have always had good service at Guitar Center. Smaller stores can survive if they find a niche such as specializing in vintage gear or high end gear(see Indoor Storm in Raleigh).

ross carlson

Okay but more importantly (to me ;) who knows how to get in touch with drummer extrordinaire Joe Izzo? Used to work for the loft, no?

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