Iconic 100 Year Old Music Retailer With 44 Stores to Shutter All Locations in May

The iconic musical instrument retailer Sam Ash announced this week that it will begin closing all of its brick-and-mortar locations starting May 2nd, 2024, marking the end of a remarkable 100-year run.

The news came as a surprise and disappointment to many of the store’s loyal patrons. “It is with a heavy heart that we announce that effective May 2nd 2024, all Sam Ash Music Store locations will begin store closing sales,” the company said in a statement. They promised “great deals” on their premium selection of instruments and equipment as they wind down operations.

Founded in 1924 by Austrian immigrant Sam Ash and his Russian-born wife Rose Dinn, the couple started humbly, initially stocking mainly sheet music and offering violin repairs in their first Brooklyn store. “Ms. Dinn decided that a musician’s life was too financially insecure,” leading the newlyweds to pawn her engagement ring for the $400 needed to open their shop, according to company lore.

Over the ensuing decades, the business steadily expanded its offerings and footprint as it passed to subsequent generations of the Ash family.

By March of this year, data firm ScrapeHero reports Sam Ash operated 44 stores across 16 states, with the highest concentrations in Florida, California and the company’s home state of New York. Several of those locations had already begun closing in recent weeks.

While the COVID-19 pandemic and rise of online retail undoubtedly posed major challenges, many observers point to the crushing impact of high inflation and rising labor costs under the economic policies of the Biden administration as the nail in the coffin for the century-old retailer.

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Sam Ash is the latest casualty in the struggle of brick-and-mortar stores to adapt and compete in a radically shifting economic landscape.

Fellow instrument retailer Guitar Center has also faced headwinds in recent years, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020 before reemerging several months later.

The parent company of Musician’s Friend, a chief online rival to Sam Ash, was acquired out of bankruptcy last year by a group of investment firms.

As part of the wind-down, Sam Ash is offering significant discounts on its remaining inventory, but with a caveat. “Beginning May 2, 2024, all sales are final and no returns are accepted except for damaged merchandise,” the company noted. Purchases made prior to that date will still be covered by their standard “45-day satisfaction guarantee.”

For generations of musicians, the closure of Sam Ash marks the end of an era.

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“Thank you for allowing us to serve musicians like you for 100 years,” the company said in its parting message to customers.