Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas Hours

WE HAVE DECIDED to keep regular hours during Christmas at Second String Music. In years past we've stayed open later during the week, but rarely did anybody wander in much past 6 p.m. We appreciate The District trying new things, like the Thankful Thursday's promotion, but it's tough to get the general public to come down here for shopping after hours.

So, Monday through Friday, we will be open for our usual 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. hours. Saturday we are here from 10 to 5. Remember, hours are just guidelines - we were here by 9:15 almost every morning last week and one morning had people waiting at the door. Then the miscreants kept us late a few Friday nights ago for happy hour and a few people wandered in after 6, including a father and son who came back the next day and bought a guitar and amp.

Well, I'm the lead miscreant, so it's all good.

I think a lot of downtown businesses are missing out by closing early on Saturdays. This past Saturday we were busy after 3 p.m. and rocked until close. It's common for the panicked musician to come in needing strings or gear.

We will be open for the next two Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. If you have stuff on layaway or want to keep the gifts a surprise, we are happy to store them here for you, safe and sound, until Christmas Eve. We will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

Merry Christmas! We are here for you for the next 14 days straight and we'll make your Christmas shopping a breeze.

Friday, December 8, 2017

How to make friends

WE RECENTLY SAW a Facebook post from a young man who says he wants to meet people and get more socially acclimated to Quincy. He works for a small school district not far from town but lives here.

That's a tough one. I remember moving to Quincy 21 years ago, but I had no trouble meeting people because of my job at the paper. We also attended a church and got involved in Emily's school.

There is a group of people called Young Professionals of Quincy. I think they are fairly active, but I'm no longer young and many people question me being professional. I'm a pro at taking golf naps and finding fret buzz on guitars. Does that count?

There are some really good service clubs in Quincy, like Rotary, Lions, Exchange Club, etc. There are tons of volunteer opportunities around here, like helping with Kroc Center events. Actually, joining the Kroc Center or YMCA is a great idea. The District recently recruited a bunch of volunteers to help string lights in Washington Park. Help is always needed and appreciated. There are many art and historical society groups active online.

I'm not a big fan of hanging out in bars, but really, if you want to check out our many talented musicians there is always live music on weekends. Sheryl created the What to Do in Quincy IL page so that people would know what was going on around town.

We have many customers who just wander in to check things out and run into people they know, or make friends at a jam session. I've met a ton of people at The Club Tavern's Sunday night blues jam.

Really, it's about getting out there and getting involved. Best of luck to everyone who is looking for friends and becoming more active in Quincy.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Angus and chew toys

WE HAD A lovely visit this morning from Lois Costanza, wife of the late and legendary Lew Portnoy. Lew was a Second String Music Hall of Famer who passed away a last year. He loved to come in on Saturday mornings, sit in his green chair behind the counter and let Fast Eddie shed all over him.

Lois has been bringing us Lew's stuff - he was a hoarder and collector of all things guitar and music related. This morning she brought in a beautiful Tacoma travel guitar, which we are selling for her after Sheryl is done restringing. She says it is the last of his guitar gear .... Right.

Among the other things she brought in were two small pillows shaped like Martin guitars. Sheryl saved the smaller one from destruction. It is named "Fretty."

Angus, of course, grabbed the bigger of the two and immediately demanded to play. Lois was a little shocked at first but quickly realized it's his world, not ours, and she obliged.

Angus has been tearing the living bleep out of the larger stuffed Martin pillow. We can't tell if it ever had a name.

There is debris everywhere and lots of barking and growling. A very nice older couple just came in to get a music stand for their grandson, and they got a big kick out of throwing the pillow for Angus. He just grunted and growled and demanded they do it again.

Our store and lives long ago went to the dogs. We love it that Lew and his hoard continue to haunt poor Lois and brings us such joy in the store. Merry Christmas to Angus!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Won't miss Hardees

THE HARDEES AT 12th and Jefferson closed Monday. As always, the first thought is that this is a sad day because people have lost jobs, not that it pays anything. But a job is a job, and you wonder what happens to the employees.

I had a love/hate relationship with that Hardees. I loved the fact that we had a restaurant on the south end and just blocks from our house. But I hated the service and the food. A few years ago when Hardees introduced its Monster Burger, a critic labelled it "Food Pornography." Hey, everybody needs a little grease and the threat of clogged arteries once in a while.

One Saturday morning about 12 years ago I wandered in there after a long night and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited for my order. I felt bad for the server and the kitchen staff because the manager had no clue what was going on. So I left without my food. There was almost never anybody in there and the rare time I did go back I could hear my voice echoing in the building. "Why yes yes yes yes .... I would love curly fries fries fries fries ...."

There are two other locations in Quincy, if you really need your fill of a Hardees hamburger. The one on Broadway isn't bad. I've never been in the one on North 12th. Hopefully they keep going, but really, in the world of culinary experience, it's not a tragic loss.

Sheryl is fervently hoping for a Sonic in that location. If it's run well and the grease is made properly, it could be a great thing for our end of town, and she'd be over there three times a week, as long as she can dispose of the bun.

So let's start this rumor, just for fun. I hear that it's going to be an Olive Garden or Red Lobster. Yes! Quincy will be so much better for getting a major food chain. We'll just keep going to Tiramisu or Thrive or Thyme Square. But we'll be a real town.

Farewell, 12th and Jefferson Hardees. We hardly knew yee, and it's sad to drive past your empty parking lot and forlorn building. Wait. There's a lobster in the parking lot! And it's red!

Neber mind. It's just an old Hardees wrapper.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Love love love Christkindl

SHERYL AND I thoroughly enjoyed the Christkindl Market in the Washington Theater Sunday. The booths were interesting (we got Sweet Spirits Farm goats’ milk soaps) and I almost bought five or six other things I totally don’t need. The theater looks fantastic and it’s come a long way from the bird poop covered stage and crumbling walls and ceilings of a decade ago.

The music was amazing - Robin Walden was leading a violin quartet when we walked in and the sound of strings floated through the cavernous theater like feathers in the wind. It was a bit cold but that made it even more festive.

We had a huge Saturday at Second String Music and the Christkindl Market drew a ton of people downtown and to our store. The nice weather helped foot traffic and several of our neighbors reported good sales.

The first Christkindl Market in Quincy was four or five years ago in Washington Park. There were huge tents and tons of vendors. I think it was our first Christmas at Fifth and Maine and it helped lots of people to know about our new location.

The District couldn’t rent tents the following year, so it moved to the Senior Center. I’m gonna piss some people off here by saying this, but the location was terrible and we saw no extra business, even though it’s two blocks away.

Then it moved to the old Dick Brothers Brewery. Great old building, tons of room for vendors, lots of people. But again, it didn’t drive much business downtown because it is on the southeast edge of The District.

I get it. The District is far more than just Washington Park. We need events throughout the downtown area, and we already have annual festivals and gatherings around us.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to The District and everybody who made this year’s Christkindl event rock. We’d love to have it again in the theater or back in the park. Let’s hope it becomes a longstanding Quincy tradition.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Love for delivery guys

WE HAVE A COUPLE of delivery drivers who are in the store almost every day. They are awesome. I’d like to think it’s because they are friendly, courteous and professional.
Angus ain't bustin nothing. Tucker peeks over the edge.

But really they just like us because of Angus.

This time of year is tough on our UPS and Fed Ex guys, and our regular mail carriers. They start getting glassy-eyed and sometimes they even forget to greet Angus. It’s like being a sports writer during playoff season or being a music store owner at Christmas. We just get through it one day at a time.

In the madness of the season, it’s a good idea to stop, take a look around and remember what is really important. We salute everybody who works harder and busts more tail this time of year. Thank you, thank you, thank you!