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UPDATED: World Music hits final notes

Retail: Music store closes after more than a decade of service in Newhall

Posted: May 7, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 7, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Lori Martinez stands outside World Music in Newhall on Thursday, which has closed after many years in the community. The store closed its doors forever last Saturday. Lori Martinez stands outside World Music in Newhall on Thursday, which has closed after many years in the community. The store closed its doors forever last Saturday.
Lori Martinez stands outside World Music in Newhall on Thursday, which has closed after many years in the community. The store closed its doors forever last Saturday.
David Green, drummer of the group Moonraker, packs up drumsticks at World Music in Newhall on Thursday. Green had worked in sales at the store for four years. David Green, drummer of the group Moonraker, packs up drumsticks at World Music in Newhall on Thursday. Green had worked in sales at the store for four years.
David Green, drummer of the group Moonraker, packs up drumsticks at World Music in Newhall on Thursday. Green had worked in sales at the store for four years.
Lori Martinez stands near a guitar display at World Music in Newhall, on Thursday, which has closed after many years in the community. The store closed its doors forever last Saturday. Lori Martinez stands near a guitar display at World Music in Newhall, on Thursday, which has closed after many years in the community. The store closed its doors forever last Saturday.
Lori Martinez stands near a guitar display at World Music in Newhall, on Thursday, which has closed after many years in the community. The store closed its doors forever last Saturday.
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World Music, a family-owned music retailer and hub for hundreds of musicians and music students in the Santa Clarita Valley for more than a decade, closed its doors forever last Saturday.

“It’s recession-related,” Lori Martinez, guitar player, teacher and co-owner with her percussionist husband, Javier, said of the Newhall business. “The store was not pulling in enough money. That’s all I can say. It’s not something we wanted to do.”

Former employees, instructors, students and friends will gather one last time at the store on Lyons and Peachland avenues for a farewell party tonight from 7 to 10.

Members of The Victor Ship, Moonraker and Motown cover band Revival — all featuring World Music alumni — will host the event. The show is open to the public for $5.

“They’d been talking about doing it, then I saw it on Facebook,” Lori Martinez said. “It’s nice that they want to do something.”

The Martinezes, of Simi Valley, employed six people at World Music. Another 15 people taught music lessons to between 200 and 300 students of all ages, mostly schoolchildren or young adults. Almost all employees, instructors and students were SCV residents.

“Luckily, some of the teachers had students who wanted to continue lessons with them, and they’ve worked something out,” Lori Martinez said. “We were really worried about that. It’s heartbreaking. We had a lot of students, our open mic night once a month, and feel like we’re part of the community.”

“Three out of the five members of The McGrath Project (band) teach here, so we’re all out of our jobs,” said musician and bandleader Gary McGrath. “It was the only store that had a weekly jam night for kids to play with their garage bands and show off what they could do, and now it’s gone.”

(The McGrath Project signed a three-album deal with Universal on Thursday, so it’s the end of one era and the beginning of a new one for the popular local band.)

Javier and Lori Martinez opened World Music in 1999, with a full line of instruments, equipment, accessories, sheet music and more.

“At one point, it was very successful,” she said. As the economy suffered in the last few years, though, so did the store’s revenue.

“Things happen. People have to pay their mortgage and not buy a guitar. Our lessons were right in there as far as what we charged — but I have kids, too, and I know music lessons are expensive. Is it that, or putting food on the table? So it trickled down to us.”

Martinez said she and her husband decided to close “not that long ago,” but before the Guitar Center chain officially opened its newest retail outlet a couple of miles away in Stevenson Ranch April 28. Some locals assumed the events were connected, the case of a large national chain overtaking an independent, privately-owned retailer.

“That might have played a little bit into (our) closing but that was not the reason,” she said. “It just was another part of it, like, ‘Oh, great — now they’re here,’ but it was completely coincidental.”

The store’s closing comes at a time when the economy is rebounding, according to most economists. “That’s what they say, but I hadn’t really seen that,” she said. “Better for whom, I’d like to know. Places that have been around for a long time are closing. Our dry cleaner is going out of business after 15 years.

What’s next for Javier and Lori Martinez?

“I’m going to be unemployed,” she said. “I am 52 years old; I don’t know what I am going to do, how I am going to find a job. It’s not like we are retiring. We have two small children and a house payment, and we are unemployed. It is pretty scary, for everybody.”

Her strengths and experience are in music, so she will probably stay in the field. "I was thinking of trying to teach guitar because that is my instrument," she said. "There are no retail stores in Simi but there are places where musicians can teach. I can do a little retail on the side. So, yeah, I am going to work on a resume and get out there."

Martinez said her husband is also unsure what the future looks like. "Javier's a percussionist so he might do that. But we don't know. We're still mopping up at the store and haven't really had time to figure it out."

Martinez and ex-employee David Green, a member of Moonraker and one of the organizers of tonight’s show, were at World Music packing up unsold stock Thursday.

“It’s going to be weird not coming here and opening up the store, for me and I’m sure for Javier, too,” Martinez said.

She choked up and paused a moment.

“I would like to really thank everybody, because the community has been very supportive through the years,” she said. “We are going to miss everybody.”

speeples@the-signal.com

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