We sat down with Pamela Cole from Fanny’s House of Music, one of the best local retail stores any town could ask for. Pamela and Leigh Maples started Fanny’s in East Nashville at the height of the “Great Recession” and have been growing the business the old fashioned way each year since. Today it’s a beloved East Nashville landmark and we’re proud that they’ve been a supportive dealer of Original Fuzz guitar straps since the beginning.
Here Pamela gives us the lowdown on the early days of Fanny’s and how rapidly the neighborhood is changing.
Lee from OF: How long have y’all been here, in this location?
Pamela: It’ll be seven years in March.
Lee from OF: And was it a crazy risky endeavor? Did you ease into it?
Pamela: Completely risky. We agreed to this house. We don’t own this house. We agreed to this house in July and the economy crashed in August.
Lee from OF: So that was 2008?
Pamela: 2008. And so we said, “Ok, no fear.” We just went ahead. Banks were not loaning, there was nothing. We went ahead and opened our doors. Everything was done on the inside. January, February, March, kinda a slow opening. It was crazy.
Lee from OF: Was it rough that first fall?
Pamela: That whole first year was rough, but the community was great. The schools that are around this area have been really good. The parents. The community was looking for a local music store with lessons, and that really kept us going. Eventually the economy got better and people had a little more money to buy instruments again. So, we started with literally just about nothing. So it’s been a total growing experience.
And then the area has just exploded in the past two years. That’s just about when you guys started.
Lee from OF: Uh huh.
Pamela: Cause I remember when you guys came in that first time with your little tackle box, and you know, just humping it, as they say.
Lee from OF: And it keeps going, the neighborhood.
Pamela: Yeah. It’s changing though too. So it’ll be interesting to see what happens. We’re looking at expanding, possibly. We’re trying to figure out a way to do that. So that we can grow our lessons. Our main objective is to continue to stay a community music store. Our mission is to be comfortable for everybody. So, that’s kinda what we do. We do odd and weird things, and you guys walking in the door was something that was new, with nobody having those type of straps at the time. The reason we carry the inventory that we do is because they are small businesses. They’re businesses that are working just as hard as we are, and if we can support those businesses while they’re growing. We hope everybody grows and gets great vendors, and great accounts, as long as its not Walmart.
Lee from OF: (Laughs). But y’all get a lot of interesting little instruments coming through here too.
Pamela: Yeah. We do consignment. We do trades. We do a lot of trades, and we’ve just started buying a whole lot more. Things are getting to where we have a little cash flow to buy and we’re making that go more and more. A lot of people want to trade in this area because there are so many musicians as you know.
Lee from OF: What would you say is the thing that makes your store stand apart on the Nashville landscape? What makes y’all unique?
Pamela: The thing that we do differently is that we carry player-type vintage and used guitars. They are player type. They’re not collectors. They are not collectible condition. They’ve been played. They want to be played again. Lots of times they have a story, which is always cool. The only new guitars that we sell are acoustic Recording Kings and Loars. Everything else in the store is used or vintage, so there are already two different stores in town–Gruhn’s and Carter–that do high-end, collectible vintage and this is a way for people to get into that middle-ground where they can get a nice vintage piece and maybe something they take on the road and leave the really high-end stuff at home, or they just don’t want to spend that much on a vintage piece.
Lee from OF: That’s also sort of the sweet spot for East Nashville.
Pamela: It is. Yeah. Definitely works out for East Nashville. Definitely the people that are over here. And that’s what I’m seeing is changing. There are more people coming into Nashville and East Nashville with a lot of money. So it’s going to be weird to see how that changes. If we expand we’ll be able to grow with that. But our heart is always going to be with pieces that are used and can get somebody into a really nice vintage piece for an affordable price. That’s always going to be our heart, because that’s what we’re about–making sure that music is for everybody.
1101 Holly Street
Contribution from Pamela Cole – Pamela is the co-owner of Fanny’s House of Music in East Nashville along with Leigh Maples. Find out more about Fanny’s at fannyshouseofmusic.com.
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