GREENVILLE — It started in 1948 with a passion for music and a check for $3,000.
More than 60 years later, Hansen’s Music Store building has been sold and is closing its doors for good.
Bob Hansen was just 13 years old when his father, Eldon Hansen, a Greenville restaurateur for 20 years, wanted to get out of the restaurant business and into the music one.
A hobby drummer who played in a few local bands, Eldon Hansen figured the music industry was where he wanted to turn after a two-decade run at the culinary arts. But with a music store already operating in the small town of Greenville, and not having huge success, the $3,000 needed to get the business up and running proved hard to get.
“The bank said he was crazy,” Bob Hansen said.
So there would be no loan and, it appeared, no Hansen’s Music Store either.
Then Eldon Hansen shared his business woes with Hansen’s Restaurant regular, L.M. Sagendorf. According to Bob Hansen, after his father told Sagendorf of his desire to open a music store and problems getting a loan, something unexpected happened.
“He took out his checkbook and wrote a check and said ‘Here’s your 3,000 bucks, go start your music store,’” Bob Hansen said.
Soon after Hansen’s Restaurant was no more and Hansen’s Music Store was up and running.
However, it took a little while to get on good footing.
“It was a struggle for the first few years,” said Bob Hansen, who spent the first decade of the new business attending college, serving in the military and working for an office furniture company in Muskegon.
After a heart attack sidelined his father in the late 1950s, Bob Hansen came home to help out at the store. Once he realized his father would never be able to run the store on his own — and once he began enjoying running the business himself — Bob Hansen took over operations in 1959.
At that point, the store was beginning to succeed.
“When I took over, he had gone through the hard times getting it going,” Bob Hansen said. “I just wanted to take over what my dad was doing.”
Little did he know, it would become a lifetime gig and something he grew to absolutely love.
“It’s never been a job,” he said. “We always told our kids, find something you enjoy doing and get so damn good at it they pay you to do it.”
But all good things come to an end.
With Internet sales, big-box stores and a struggling economy, Hansen’s Music Store couldn’t stay above water.
Announcing the store’s closure in 2012, the Hansens have spent the last two years attempting to clear out its inventory. Open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, the store will continue ridding itself of stock, up to 80 percent off, before closing for good at the end of June.
A business that has been a part of his life for more than 60 years, the decision was never easy for Bob Hansen.
It still stings a little.
“I didn’t want to close it and I still don’t. I still like going to work,” he said. The revenue just wasn’t there anymore.
“The thing is, the last three years I’ve been putting my savings into it to keep it afloat,” he said. “At 81 years old, that doesn’t make much sense. I was pouring my savings into it to come and work for free. That isn’t how it’s supposed to work.”
The time to call it quits had finally come, but the footprint left behind by a business that meant so much to a small community hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“Having specialty shops like Hansen’s Music House not only make life in a small town convenient by filling a niche, but they make our town unique,” said Candy Kerschen, co-director of the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce. “More importantly, owners, Bob and Ruth Hansen were such a huge support for the arts in Greenville, a real driving force. Business owners who have a passion for what they do and so generously share that passion, expertise and valuable time with the community is so rare. I truly believe it’s a big part of why they were as successful as they were for so many years.”
After six decades in business, all in the same building, Hansen’s Music Store has finalized the sales of its building at 116 S. Lafayette St. Purchasing the building was Gowen resident William Jakubeilski, owner of Forms and Fulfillment Services, Inc., a company which produces and sells blank check forms, envelopes and more to payroll service companies.
Jakubeilski, who has been in business for 13 years, said he was unsure whether the building would be used for office space or rented out. For more information on Forms and Fulfillment Services Inc., call (616) 754-3790.
For Hansen’s Music Store, while the store itself is closing, the owners themselves will continue to keep busy, albeit in different capacities.
“My wife does all the plays at the school and community center, so I’ll probably be a gopher,” Bob Hansen joked. “I will keep busy.”
Both are still in good health in their 80s, Bob said his wife, Ruth and he will likely vacation more.
“My wife and I are going to travel a bit and spend some of our kids’ inheritance,” he joked.