The Folk Shop, an acoustic music mecca in Tucson since 1986, is up for sale for the second time in its 29 years. These days, we don’t often hear about retail operations surviving two different owners. Sounds like The Folk Shop is doing something right.
Current owner, Paul Blumentritt, says that he has thoroughly enjoyed his time here since he and his wife, Brenda, purchased the business in 1990. But at 73 years old, he’s ready to retire and leave the banjo behind, at least on a day-to-day basis, and is looking for someone ready to take over this quaint, wholly-acoustic music store in Tucson’s mid-town region.
The shop carries a wide range of acoustic instruments: guitars, banjos, mandolins, ukuleles, dulcimers, harps, autoharps, and a variety of folk percussion. They also provide repair facilities, and Paul prides himself on the level of personal attention he and his staff offer for anyone interested in acoustic string music, from beginners to pros, all of whom visit on a regular basis.
When he and Brenda bought it, The Folk Shop was a tiny operation, housed in a 600 foot shop, and open only 10 hours a week. Founder B.L. Anderson dedicated most of his time to building hammered dulcimers, and Paul initially got involved helping Anderson keep the shop open during the week.
“I was in the real world world for many years in Minnesota and retired in 1986. I had worked as a manufacturer’s rep, and after I retired, I spent six years on the road with my wife Brenda. We loved living that way, but ran through my nest egg pretty quickly.
Gradually we noticed how much we enjoyed Tucson whenever we stopped there. Once we decided to settle here, I started working at The Folk Shop to help keep it open more, and bought it a few months later.
Tucson is a really good music town; Phoenix is only an hour away, and they have no store like ours.”
Not long after Paul and Brenda took over, they moved to a much larger, 1800 sq ft building on Campbell Avenue. But since that move Paul has resisted expanding further.
“I decided long ago not to go bigger or open a second store. I have enough inventory to supply two stores now.
I’ve been fighting online sales for years, resisting computers and all that, but my wife Brenda is very tech savvy, and she has us set up with a modern point of sale system and are starting to get more and more online.
But I like the down home approach.”
As much as he continues to enjoy his job as a small shop retailer, Blumentritt is determined to leave it behind.
“I thought it would be a lot of fun, and it has been. I love it, but I have six grandkids who need to get to know me, and I need to get to know them. I’m 73… it’s time.
We have a great spot, with a great lease, right across the street from Rainbow Guitars. They don’t do banjos, and we don’t do electric guitars. And we have lots of banjos, because I like ’em.
It’s been very, very good to us and it continues to be. It’s a cool place, a cool job, and probably the lowest pressure place you’ll ever find.
The right person would have a ball here, like I have. But we’re not leaving Tucson. I’ll be willing to help as needed.”
Anyone interested in talking with Paul about becoming the new owner is invited to contact him directly. He’s not listing it with an agency and is happy to discuss the business with all comers.
This sounds like one worth preserving.