Music 6000 turned 50 in June, a business that was popularized by its musical owner, Johnny Lewis, and continues today under the leadership of his two sons, Steve and Jeff.
Saxophonist Johnny Lewis, the central figure in the Johnny Lewis Trio, bought Lacey Music Center in 1966 and changed the name when it moved to 6000 Pacific Ave. The business later moved to Olympia — where Lighthouse Antiques is today — then to its current location in 2007. That’s the former site of Thurston County WorkSource, also known as the unemployment office.
“Half our customers already knew the location,” quipped Steve Lewis about the move. They bought the building in 2006 and moved a year later.
It’s a big space, measuring nearly 20,000 square feet, and is filled with wall-to-wall instruments, equipment and other musician needs. It also has eight teaching studios. In addition to performing with the band, Ruth Lewis said her husband taught music at the store. He died in March 2014 at age 88.
“I miss him like crazy,” she said.
Music 6000 has rolled with the changes in musical trends, Steve said. At one time, musicians sought out instruments and equipment for specific genres of music — jazz, blues, rock or country — but music today has become a melange of sounds, he said.
Young artists, too, can purchase their own sound recording equipment for a fraction of the expense it used to cost years ago, Steve said. There’s been a recent run on ukuleles, partly because of artists such as Eddie Vedder, best known as the frontman for Pearl Jam, who released an album of ukulele songs.
Music 6000, too, had to weather the Great Recession, because instruments were viewed as a luxury item.
“The business is coming back,” he said.
One thing that has kept it competitive is that musicians want to come in and feel the instrument before they buy. The internet, though, has posed its challenges, because customers turn to it for musical accessories, Steve said.
Another competitive advantage is the store’s employees, many of whom have been with the business a long time.
“This store would not be what it is today without the employees,” he said, adding that they are good musicians who know music really well.
▪ Owners: The Lewis family, including brothers Steve and Jeff, and their mother, Ruth.
▪ Location: 3738 Pacific Ave. SE Olympia
▪ Type of business: Music store that sells, rents and repairs instruments and equipment. It also has eight teaching studios.
▪ Years in business: 50.
▪ Employees: 25-28.
▪ Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays; noon-5 p.m. Sundays.
▪ Online: music6000.com.
▪ Did you know? Music 6000 was run for years by local jazz legend and saxophonist Johnny Lewis, born Louis John Loiacono. He died in March 2014 at 88. More than 800 attended his funeral, his son, Steve, said. The Johnny Lewis Trio performed on “The Tonight Show” and recorded hits for Decca, Coral, Columbia and Capitol labels.