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 then we could probably sell them, make a little profit, and have fun doing it. Within a year we had moved into a small (8'x10') 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 have 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. Who knew? We did know a few things when we started, but we were constantly learning. We learned about instruments from experience, talking with customers, and the burgeoning world of vintage instruments. We learned about different kinds of acoustic and electric music from the LPs we were selling, and from the many great musicians coming through town. We learned about running a business. The world changed; we learned more and Elderly Instruments grew.
By 1983 we had outgrown the original building, so we bought and renovated an old lodge hall in nearby Lansing. My partnership with Sharon ended in 1986. (In case you’re wondering, Sharon is currently in the antiques business, and still here in Lansing.)
By the 1990's our experience in mail order paid off when we created our first web site. One of the challenging things about business is that every few years the technology changes dramatically. When we opened the original store we did not have a cash register; we didn't even have a calculator. As crazy as it sounds, it was many years until a hand-held calculator felt affordable. In 1988 we automated our inventory.
The important things, however, haven't changed. We're still a family business, with my wife Sandy joining the Elderly staff in 1990 and our daughter Lillian in 2014. The rest of the Elderly family includes over 70 stellar employees, many of whom have been here for well over 20 years. We want you to feel like you are walking into our living room.
We have great new and vintage instruments, accessories, instructional materials, and even a few wacky things, all at great prices. We offer free advice, or we can write an appraisal that your insurance company will gladly accept. Our 11-person repair shop sets up most instruments (new and used) unless we are selling them AS-IS at a bargain price. The shop is also widely known for its professional restorations on any age acoustic or electric guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, ukulele and more.
We want to be the music store that does it all for you, and our thousands of customers will tell you that we succeed. Plus, we're still learning, and it's still fun!
Thanks for stopping in.
We believe in old-fashioned customer service!