Quinn’s Music in Big Rapids offers repairs, equipment, lessons

BIG RAPIDS – Quinn’s Music is a hidden treasure trove of musical knowledge, technical expertise and friendly service.

Located at 210 S. Michigan Ave., the store has been owned by Marc Conley for 40 years. Conley first worked at the store when he was looking for part-time work while pursuing a job in the automotive industry.

After a year, Conley started having fun with the job and decided to switch over to ownership of the store entirely, taking over from the previous owners and leaving his automotive career behind.

“It’s always a good feeling to see new musicians, whether they’re adults or children, to see them take ownership, get excited the next time they come, they’re playing something they haven’t not played last time. And of course we see a lot of that with our lessons,” Conley said.

Guitar clerk and technician Zach Potter teaches lessons and is happy to be able to pass on his knowledge to the next generation, as he feels he didn’t take enough lessons as a child.

“I bought my first guitars here and I have childhood friends who took lessons here. So it’s cool to be part of the legacy of this city that I grew up in and kind of take over for the next generation,” he said.

Part of what makes Quinn’s Music special and stands out from other stores, not just music stores, is the friendly environment.

“It’s great to be here because in this region there aren’t many places for musicians to meet or for this kind of exchange to happen. So this place offers that kind of atmosphere and environment. People have been coming here for decades,” said employee Nick Baker, who himself had been at Quinn’s for five or six years before becoming an employee.

“I kept coming because it was always a nice place to come. I have always had good information. I was treated well. Even though I played the guitar badly,” he said.

Baker believes he was able to learn more in six months of practical work at Quinn than in six years of study and that helping customers who do not know what they are doing is the key to the friendly environment, and give musicians a place to hang out.

“I saw Marc talking to someone for half an hour about something pretty stupid. And he may not have wanted to, but he sure did. And they left the store happy, you know? ” he said.

Conley pointed out that there are no dumb questions at Quinn, and even if customers aren’t planning on buying anything, they are always shown the ropes, instead of being treated with a elitist attitude as they might be in a big box store.

Longtime employee and musician Allison LeVeque said she couldn’t imagine herself doing anything else and noted that customers are still learning how to use new equipment and that instruments are properly “set up” by Potter before the departure of customers.

“We’re pretty laid back here. No high pressure, we would like it to be a fun place. We don’t mind people hanging around,” Conley said, contrasting with the “cold” experience people are currently having in businesses, especially post-pandemic.

“A lot of businesses have gotten pretty cold these days. They don’t welcome customers. It’s sad. People appreciate the service and the kind of stuff we do, but they don’t find that very often, in any kind of business,” he said.

The friendly attitude results in friendships that transcend the customer-employee relationship, according to LeVeque.

“I love that a lot of the clients that come in, we know them, they tell us about their grandkids, they become friends and we end up playing open mics together. That’s the cool thing about working for a downtown business like this is that our customers have more than just a face, we know them and they know us,” she said.

People travel from all over Michigan, from Grand Rapids to Traverse City, to take lessons or have their guitars repaired by Potter, who studied at the world-renowned Galloup Guitar School before lending his skills to Quinn’s.

“Yesterday there was a guy here from Baldwin. And while he was here, another guy from Baldwin came along. And pretty soon they’re just jamming, talking, throwing the breeze,” Conley said.

Quinn’s main point is that he’s comfortable, according to Conley.

“It’s either comfortable or it’s not comfortable. And here we try to make it comfortable if people just want to come in and talk and ask questions,” he said.

Learn more about Quinn’s music at www.quinnsmusic.com.

Leave a Reply