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Beaumont music store gets new home after nearly seven decades

todayMarch 30, 2022

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Swicegood Music has spent nearly all of its practically seven a long time in enterprise on School Road in Beaumont.

When it relocated from the unique downtown location, Swicegood and a 24-hour pig stand diner have been the one companies on the highway.

It’s a scene troublesome to think about now, as Baptist Hospital and different well being care places of work fill the roadway, together with an H-E-B grocery retailer, pharmacies, limitless quick meals choices, eating places, fuel stations and extra fill the heavily-trafficked hall.

The expansion spurt introduced in business realtors on the lookout for extra alternatives for builders and, because of this, a number of buy presents to Swicegood Music proprietor Kurt Killion.


He’d at all times mentioned no, even after Swicegood flooded throughout Tropical Despair Imelda.

“We have been solely closed a couple of days and will nonetheless do out-the-door gross sales for easy gadgets like strings or reeds whereas cleansing up,” Killion mentioned, including, that inside, “it wasn’t fairly with a naked concrete flooring and partitions lacking up a pair ft.”

Nevertheless it was the very business progress on School Road itself that made Killion severely take into account his newest sale supply, now over a yr in the past.

The glut of site visitors on the roadway, particularly at lunchtime when well-liked drive-thrus like Chick-fil-A might tie up an entire lane of site visitors move, made getting out and in of the shop extra problematic.

And there was a rising subject with unhoused folks staying within the space, most of whom Killion and staff had gotten to know over time.

“As an individual, you’re feeling for them, however as a enterprise proprietor, it wasn’t good. Some prospects have been afraid to return in (if a homeless individual was sleeping out entrance or hanging round),” he mentioned.

When he’d arrive to search out an individual sleeping exterior the storefront, he’d inform them they needed to depart, saying, “’Look, I get it, however I’m attempting to run a enterprise right here.’”

Then, the shop was vandalized.

Reportedly, an unhoused man threw a brick via the shop window and stole a number of guitars earlier than police arrived on the scene.

The person was arrested and guitars recovered from close by pawn outlets, however the devices had been broken.

When Killion’s pice to promote Swicegood was accepted the subsequent day, he moved the veteran Beaumont enterprise elsewhere.

“It was simply the proper time to do it,” he defined. “The cash was proper and the constructing was 60 years previous.”

Killion known as Gerald Farhar — a pal in actual property — and mentioned, “I received to go.”

Farhar prompt a brand new property he’d gotten alongside Twin Metropolis Freeway in a brand new business improvement zone. This web site was the primary developed on a model new road — Lone Star Drive in Nederland.

It was Killion’s previous stomping grounds and 1,500-square-feet bigger than their previous property, the place the storefront and exterior warehouse and storage items amounted to roughly 8,500 sq. ft.

The scale distinction isn’t large on paper, however the brand new property’s format, with warehouse stock, restore and showroom underneath the identical roof, made it really feel bigger than the numbers confirmed.

The open flooring plan on the new web site allowed for bigger showroom shows, for one.

“There have been some issues, like impulse gadgets or shows of drumsticks, what-have-you, that we didn’t have room to show (earlier than on the ground). They have been all behind the counter on the previous location,” Killion mentioned.

The sheet music and books have been in a separate room on the previous house, as nicely.

It amounted to a cramped buying expertise.

That isn’t a difficulty now.

“Aesthetically, that is a lot nicer,” Killion famous.

It’s a distinction prospects have observed, as nicely.

“The return prospects like that it’s newer and larger,” Killion mentioned, and for the reason that transfer, “we’ve seen some new faces right here — primarily folks from Mid- and South-County that hadn’t gone to Beaumont earlier than.”

His staff like the brand new house, as nicely.

What they’re missing in walking-distance lunch break choices on School Road, they’re making up for in in-house performance.

“Our work areas are extra spaced out right here,” mentioned Myles Peace, who began at Swicegood as a janitor eight years in the past whereas finding out at Lamar, “(The transfer) was an adjustment, however it’s good to have your personal space and never be packed collectively, having to ask, ‘Can you progress that, so I can get to this?’”

It’s a spacious profit they’ll seemingly respect extra in a couple of months, when Swicegood’s instrument restore group sees its highest quantity of enterprise from its greatest prospects — college band applications.

Greater than 1,000 instrument providers come in the summertime months earlier than college resumes.

Swicegood Music providers greater than 90 regional colleges’ music-related wants — offering devices, repairs, sheet music and making routine on-site calls to examine in with band administrators about rising

wants all year long.

Their service ranges from colleges all through the Golden Triangle to East Houston and north to Livingston, Cleveland and the lakes area.

“There’s not many shops like this in our space,” Killion mentioned, including,

“Clearly we’re right here to make cash, but it surely’s extra of a service to our faculty music applications. We assist colleges get entry to and provides of the sheet music and devices/repairs they want.”

“Texas is the ‘gold normal’ with regards to college band applications,” Killion mentioned, noting these applications dovetail the state’s devotion to highschool soccer.

It’s a mindset that has helped Texas music applications keep away from the inventive program price range cuts skilled by many faculties all through the nation.

“The Texas Music Educators Affiliation has a very good foyer in Austin. They be certain these applications get their share,” Killion mentioned.

That retains the bands marching on, and doing enterprise at Swicegood’s, as nicely.

“What grows our enterprise are robust band applications the place dad and mom really feel just like the monetary contribution is value one thing — it’s a very good factor to spend cash on. When you might have extra children in band, we have now extra enterprise” he mentioned.

Doing extra for college bands goes past being good for Swicegood enterprise, nonetheless.

It’s a mission Killion benefited from as a baby, when his dad and mom received him his first instrument for college band — a saxophone bought from Swicegood Music a long time earlier than he’d grow to be the shop’s proprietor.

The saxophone set off a trajectory of private music historical past that led Killion to grow to be a music main at Lamar College, then a center college band instructor for ten years – two at Port Arthur colleges and eight in Nederland.

Since becoming a member of Swicegood in 1992, he’s given again to the very applications from which he benefited and made various associates alongside the best way.

Killion and others grew to become bandmates in Eazy the Band, which included Michael Westbrook, a former Hardin-Jefferson Excessive Faculty band director and the primary native confirmed fatality because of COVID-19.

They nonetheless play, largely now at Pine Tree Lodge, although reveals contemporary within the wake of Westbrook’s loss have been troublesome, Killion mentioned.

However the energy of music heals, and Killion is ensuring that Swicegood endures as a music useful resource for generations to return, together with staff like Steve Huelsman, who was 18 when he began working part-time at Swicegood’s.

He’s now a part of the instrument restore group on the store whereas persevering with to carry out as a guitarist with bands all through the area.

“I’m in my twenty fifth yr, and I haven’t left but,” he mentioned.

kbrent@beaumontenterprise.com



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