ST. JOSEPH -- A new locally-owned music store will soon be open for business in St. Joseph.

Barrett's Music is setting up shop in the space formerly occupied by Riff City Guitar & Music Company at 708 Elm Street, which closed at the end of October.

At the end of July, musical couple Micah and Jeanine Barrett learned of Riff City owner Joe Leach's decision to close Riff City. Mr. Barrett met with Joe shortly after, and before long, the wheels were turning.

"There was still an opportunity for something to succeed here," Micah says. "After that meeting, I went home and talked to (Jeanine) and our first thoughts were, "well, if we're going to do this, it isn't a career. Neither one of us can quit our jobs. So, what's the reason we want to do this?"

The reason, Mr. Barrett says, is to provide resources for musicians - particularly beginners. Barrett's Music will pick up where Riff City left off, selling guitars, drums, keyboards and related equipment - but with an additional focus on offering a larger selection of sheet music, private lessons and resources for young and/or new musicians.

"We're trying to make a more open environment for people who aren't used to getting into music. So, you know, the mom who doesn't have the knowledge, bringing in her son or daughter for the first time."

The Barretts have spent the last month renovating, decorating and stocking the store with the goal of opening before the holiday shopping season. A major change, Mr. Barrett says, is the addition of several new practice spaces for lessons.

"We don't quite have the contract in place, so I can't discuss it fully, but we will have a significant teaching relationship in the store that will help facilitate the lesson program."

Mrs. Barrett, a full-time piano teacher, and Mr. Barrett, who plays bass in local groups Justin Ploof and the Throwbacks and Mason Dixon Line, say they're excited to grow the business into a support system for the local music community.

"This is a platform we can stand on to help wherever we can. We want the store to sustain itself, support its employees, and give to the community in any way it can. We needed an altruistic reason."

Several former Riff City Guitar employees have been hired by the store, along with several "new faces."

"We'll have a couple of personalities that know how things work there, and then a couple new employees that can bring an outside perspective. We have very young employees and older ones. It's about having people with diverse perspective to make sure we don't get stuck in our old ways."

Mr. Barrett says they aim to create an environment for musicians of all ages and instruments.

"It's not a rock and roll store. It's not a big box store. It's that sort of home-grown, full-service music store. You have the 12-year-old beginning player, you have the old pro, you have the music teacher shopping for students - all in the same place."

Barrett's Music will be open every Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., with the potential for expanded hours during the holiday season. They're hosting a grand opening on Saturday Nov. 9.

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