January 21, 2012


New music store open on Main Street

Former electrician decides to start his own business after career-ending back injury

MusicBob Ellis/staff photographer
Jim VanDeuson is the owner of the recently opened VanDeuson Music at 5 Main St. in Cortland.

Staff Reporter

Nearly two months after it officially opened, VanDeuson Music at 5 Main St., Cortland, is going strong.
Store owner Jim VanDeuson said the response from friends and the community has been great.
“Putting it all together and renovating it was really a family affair,” he said. “The response from the community has been overwhelming, really.”
VanDeuson decided to open his own business after a back injury ended a 35-year career as an electrician.
“I basically broke my back and I decided opening a music store was better than sitting in a chair all day,” he said. “I’m only 53, I’m not ready to retire.”
VanDeuson began playing guitar when he was 12 and recalls the effect older music stores had on him as a young musician.
“I’ve been playing for 40 years,” he said. “Opening a store was always in the back of my mind.”
VanDeuson’s shop helps fill the void created when Ultimate Music closed in 2010 after one of its co-owners died.
His goal is to provide a comfortable, inviting atmosphere for local musicians and a place for student musicians from local schools to buy some of their equipment.
“I think having a music shop for local musicians is really important,” he said. “My prices might be a dollar more but it’s cheaper than driving to Syracuse or Ithaca for your equipment.”
The city Common Council awarded a $31,345 federally funded microenterprise grant to VanDeuson in September to help finance the store.
Dan McNeil Sr., owner of McNeil Development, used to own a music store on Main Street. Before VanDeuson applied for the city grant he went to McNeil to ask his opinion.
“Dan McNeil’s opinion means a lot to me,” he said. “I asked him if he thought it was a good idea.”
Having a new music store on Main Street is great for the music community and the downtown area, McNeil said.
“I think Jim will do well,” he said. “It’s great having it downtown and like most small businesses, you don’t have huge expectations of profit, you just want it to succeed.”
The store sells electric, acoustic and bass guitars as well as drum sets, keyboards and public address equipment. The store is an authorized dealership for Washburn Guitars, Vox amplifiers and DDrums.
Minor instrument repairs are done in the back by VanDeuson and in the next few weeks the store will start offering guitar and keyboard lessons.
The building has been mostly vacant for the past few years.
Running a small business is a challenge, VanDeuson said but he noted that there’s a lot of room for growth and community support.
“Once word gets out there, I think it’ll take off,” he said.
He plans to eventually pass the store on to his children, who are both musically inclined. Until then VanDeuson just wants to do what makes him happy.
“I come in every day at 10 o’clock with a smile on my face to do something I love,” he said. “I play guitar more now than I have in the past few years. Can’t ask for much more than that.”
The store is open six days a week, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.


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