My Musical Equipment Closet

An opinionated collecton of short reviews of saxophones and woodwinds and the accessories which they require.

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Location: Santa Cruz, California, United States

"Other cultures are not failed attempts at being us. They are all unique manifestations of the human imagination and the human heart." Wade Davis

Saturday, November 25, 2006

RIP The Woodwind

AP News item+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

South Bend musical instrument seller files bankruptcy

South Bend, Ind. - A California company has offered to buy one of the country's largest sellers of musical instruments after it filed for bankruptcy protection.

A company official says South Bend-based Woodwind & Brasswind is expected to continue operating with all of its 240 employees during the bankruptcy proceedings.

Woodwind & Brasswind filed for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday following a nine million dollar court judgment against it from a lawsuit filed by the former owners of an instrument seller the company bought in 2002.

Court documents say California-based Guitar Center offered on Wednesday to buy Woodwind & Brasswind. Dennis Bamber, Woodwind & Brasswind's president and chief executive, says four other firms also have expressed serious interest in the company.


Well, interesting times. So here we are, a couple years after the end of Mars a couple weeks after the last Brook Mays/H&H store was padlocked, and the biggest of them all, The Woodwind, goies under. Cripes. Not a good time to be the biggest store in the world, although Guitar Center (through its subsidiary, Music & Arts I should think) is stepping into the breach, plunking down a $2 million deposit on the assets of the company.

My equipment closet is stuffed with goods from the Woodwind. I bought a clarinet there in 1984, when the store was packed like a sardine can into a former barber shop in South Bend. I was on the road with the Modernaires and I needed a clarinet that could take some breath without closing up on me when I went from bari to lead clarint. (Thanks to Ernie Caceras of San Antonio for making this double possible!) The place was stacked to the ceiling with instruments, but Dennis knew where everything was and found me a large bore Yamaha. He bought my grey-market Selmer Series 9 and sent me on my way. I remember sending him a letter (which we used to do before email) expressing my thanks and wondering if he'd heard anything about little computers that could track his inventory.

Over the years it grew from a giant catalog operation to a website, and then it swallowed Music 1-2-3 whole, which was its undoing when the former owners secured a judgment against it last week.

I feel sorry for all the folks who are going to lose their jobs, but I feel VERY sorry for those down in the supply chain who are left holding the bag in worthless invoices.

It's no fun being the fastest gun in the west, as again this has proven.


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