A longtime Salem music store has announced it is closing its doors.
Ridenhour Music is shutting down in a few weeks after 74 years in business.
For store employee Frank Hatfield, Ridenhour Music was where he came when he chose to start playing guitar.
“I’d come here and get to play all the stuff that I didn’t have and get my hands on it, and it was inspiring,” Hatfield said.
Hatfield had been a customer at the store for 16 years before being hired to work in the guitar department two years ago.
A longtime fixture in downtown Salem, Ridenhour Music now has new signs posted on its storefront announcing its closure.
“It’s sad, not from a job perspective, just ’cause you get used to it – comfort,” Hatfield said.
“It’s been a meeting place,” said Cathy Ridenhour, who owns the shop. “People have grown up here.”
Cathy Ridenhour said she has operated the music store with her husband since it was passed down from his father.
Ridenhour Music first opened in Portsmouth 74 years ago before being relocated to downtown Salem, she said.
“Music is a fun business to be in,” Ridenhour said. “We’ve met a lot of good friends and good people over the years.”
“It’s such a big legacy,” said Steve Gross, a former store employee who worked at Ridenhour Music for ten years. “Some of the biggest names in the music industry have come through here. Wayne Newton is one, Steven Chapman and people that are huge in the contemporary Christian market and even traditional country market have taken lessons from Elmer Ridenhour.”
Members of the Ridenhour family said they are proud the shop has helped customers of all ages follow their passion for music.
“We get people coming in daily saying great things about my grandfather and what he’s meant to the area for many, many, many years,” store manager Jerry Ridenhour said.
“If anybody takes anything away from this store, it’d be that you can always come here and have someone that’s happy and excited to share with you what they know,” Hatfield said.
Cathy Ridenhour said she and her husband plan to become more active with their church during retirement.
Ridenhour Music is running a retirement sale to help sell off the store’s merchandise. The shop is expected to close at the end of the year, Cathy Ridenhour said.