New music store clicks in Oak Harbor

With the help of grassroots efforts, North Whidbey’s only all-instrumental music store opened last month to serve Islanders and the city of Anacortes.

Owner Avi Rostov and manager Sheila Rhyne hang out in’s guitar department.

With the help of grassroots efforts, North Whidbey’s only all-instrumental music store opened last month to serve Islanders and the city of Anacortes.

For years, store owner Avi Rostov said she was commuting as a “roadie” from Clinton to Oak Harbor with pockets full of reeds and sheet music for her students’ lessons.

Frustrated parents wanted Rostov around more often and hinted she should open a store. But the money wasn’t there.

Undeterred, six of them decided to confront her one night at a student’s house, offering her the capital she needed. One parent went so far as to give her $1,000 for a month of lessons that typically cost $80.

From there, the community of Oak Harbor took initiative. Architect Angie Homola designed part of the store.

“Kids and dads came in learning how to frame and sheetrock,” Rostov said. A recent student bragged to her that he’d built the wall of the practice room he was playing in.

The store has three lesson studios and one ensemble room, used to teach jazz and toddler tunes. On Friday night from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., the room transforms into a free community jam session.

“We had kids, adults, a guitar instructor, harmonicas, piano and it worked. There were people who have jammed their whole lives and people who have never played before,” Rostov said.

Behind the counter is the store’s orchestral string department. String lessons are not offered in the Oak Harbor School District, but with the help of teacher Talia Toni Marcus, students can get some training.

Marcus is a violinist and composer who has toured with Van Morrison, Jack Benny, Kenny G, Pavarotti and played for hundreds of film scores.

Also teaching is trombonist Steve Tarr, the founding member of the Whidbey Island Dixieland Jazz Band, and guitarist Quinn Fitzpatrick, who has a BA in guitar performance from the University of Massachusetts, and has taught for nine years.

The store’s main floor offers customers a grab bag of instruments such as woodwinds, brasswinds, strings, guitars, keyboards and handmade, fair-trade drums from Ghana, West Africa.

Rostov said prices are set at the minimum manufacturers will allow. If a customers finds a price online cheaper than the store’s, she’s willing to match it.

“People expect local businesses to be high priced. But lower prices will give us the volume of customers we need,” Rostov said.

The staff is willing to cater to specific markets, such as the DJ equipment one customer requested. Store manager Sheila Rhyne has worked in music retail for 12 years and said some stores will snub certain arts. They want to flexible.

And to broaden their base even more, will carry ballet and jazz dancing accessories and items for actors, specifically the musical genre.

When school starts, they’re hoping for the support of music teachers who have the burden of writing each of the band solos for their students.

“Our students will be able to write their own,” Rostov said.

Students can sign up for instrument rentals that come with maintenance agreements. If the instrument breaks, they’re given a loaner while it’s being repaired.

“This store is really targeted at everyone who plays an instrument and needs anything,” Rostov said.

The store is located on 7th Ave. NE and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call 675-5544.

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