‘Full-service,’ ‘world-class’ music store opens in SK

Seattle guitar icon Randy Hansen performed at the grand opening of Mainline Music on Saturday.   - Courtesy photo
Seattle guitar icon Randy Hansen performed at the grand opening of Mainline Music on Saturday.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

He reaches toward the paneled wall to grab one of the glossy wooden guitars that rest in tandem.

Darren Erickson glides his fingers across the stings as he talks about Mainline Music in the Westbay Center at 1341 Bay St.

The 1980 South Kitsap High School graduate, who owns the store with Pam Bilodeau, a professor of computer information systems at Olympic College, plans a business with as much diversity as the sounds that resonate off the guitar.

Mainline features the equipment — amplifiers, drums, flutes, guitars, saxophones and trumpets — that can be found at just about any music store. But Erickson said the store also will carry vintage items, such as a 1963 Fender Amplifier that was donated by Seattle guitar icon Randy Hansen, in addition to new equipment. Hansen performed at the store’s grand opening Saturday.

“It’s going to be a full-service music store,” Erickson said. “We’re just starting off now, but it’s only going to get bigger and bigger.”

Erickson said another aspect that differentiates Mainline from others are the three instruction rooms in the back of the store.

“We’re going to have world-class instruction,” he said.

That is not hyperbole.

Bill Carter is the instructor for those who want to learn how to play the saxophone.

During the 1970s, Erickson said Carter was a backup singer for icons such as Marvin Gaye, Lou Rawls, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder.

Emmy award-winning composer and performer Michael Stoican, who has been a guitar and electric bass instructor since 1989 at OC, also will instruct, along with his OC colleague Craig Dell, who will teach classical and Flamenco guitar. He studied under the late Andrés Segovia.

“It’s like if you studied under Picasso,” Erickson said. “He’s the most famous flamingo guitarist in history.”

Cari Lynn York will serve as a piano and vocalist instructor at Mainline.

Erickson said the instructors are subcontractors and set their own fees. He said most sessions, which are by appointment, run on 30-minute rates.

Erickson, who spent 17 years as the production director at KZOK-FM in Seattle, said he and Bilodeau decided to open a store when DJ’s Music closed in April. Since then, Erickson said music students in the South Kitsap School District have been forced to buy equipment online or head to Silverdale or Tacoma.

“We realized this community deserves a music store and somebody’s got to do it,” Erickson said. “We’re ready to do it.”

Music stores seemingly have been as successful as baseball-card shops during the last two decades. It once was common to see multiple stores in many communities. Now they can be difficult to find.

But Erickson thinks Mainline can end that trend.

“We’re centrally located and we’re going to be as convenient as possible,” he said. “We’re going to be competitively priced. A lot of the reason why some of these smaller-town music stores went out of business is because the Internet came along. People now can price shop and realize they can get things cheaper over the Internet.”

He said that will not be a problem at Mainline. Last week, Erickson sold a guitar to an entry-level student for $90. But he also features higher-end items, including a Martin Custom, which is priced at $2,000.

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the weekend.

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