It started back in 1971, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Sharon McInturff and I had both finished college, and we figured that if we searched for older fretted instruments, we could probably sell them, make a little profit, and have fun doing it. Within a year we had moved into a small (8' x 10') space in the basement of a retail building in East Lansing. The shop opened on July 5, 1972, with about 15 or 20 used instruments. We called ourselves Elderly Instruments because we planned to carry only vintage instruments.
We wanted a store where people could feel comfortable, be allowed to play the instruments — a rarity in those days — and find great prices and great customer service. Before we knew it, we were carrying strings, some accessories and (much to our surprise) new instruments, too.
Fast forward to 1975, and we had a 100+ page mail order catalog, plus a much expanded space in the building where we started. We knew a few things when we started, but we were constantly learning. We learned about instruments from experience, from talking with customers, and from the burgeoning world of vintage instruments. We learned about different kinds of acoustic and electric music from the LPs we were selling, from our customers, and from the many great musicians coming through town. We learned about running a business. As the world changed, we learned more and Elderly Instruments continued to grow.