Last Thursday evening at SPBMA we had a nice chat with George Gruhn, proprietor of the legendary Gruhn Guitars in Nashville. He shared that the shop is preparing a move across town, leaving the bright lights of Broadway behind.
Since 1970, Gruhn’s has been a landmark in downtown Nashville, operating at two successive locations on Broadway. It has become a mecca for touring musicians, who stop in to ogle classic vintage instruments – or engage in buying and selling – plus serious locals and out-of-town visitors interested in acquiring new, used and vintage stringed instruments of every sort.
Their current spot (400 Broadway) is right in the thick of Music City’s honky-tonk strip, just steps from iconic clubs like Tootsie’s and Roberts, across the street from Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop, and just a few steps down the back alley from the Ryman Auditorium. But Gruhn says that the character of the neighborhood has changed dramatically in recent years, making it impossible to continue operations as they had for the prior 40 years.
Since the construction of a large, multi-floor bar across the street, he has found that 9 out of 10 staff interactions with the public have nothing to do with instrument purchases, or even music. So much time is given over to policing inebriated walk-ins and looky-loos that he and his staff are unable to offer the sort of careful attention to actual customers that had been their hallmark.
Plus, the noise level has increased so much in that block of Broadway that George finds it difficult to concentrate when in the store.
“We may be an institution, but if I stay here another year, I’ll have to be institutionalized.”
A new building has been purchased at 2120 8th Avenue South, and a move is anticipated later this year.
We are doing a massive renovation on the building in excess of $500,000, which is projected to be a five month project. This hopefully will permit us to move in May, but we do not yet have an exact date.”
George says that while in a lot of respects he and the staff will miss being in the building on Broadway, they’re really looking forward to having a larger showroom and work space, with more parking, and are excited to make new friends and meet their new neighbors.
It’s the end of an era for Broadway, and the beginning of another for 8th Avenue South.