Heard on the Street: Longtime music store changing its tune

August 22, 2018

After 64 years in downtown Rochester, a small, family-run musical instrument shop is changing its tune a bit.

Welhaven Music Co. has merged with Music Mart, another Minnesota-based, family-owned music center.

Music Mart has taken over the retail shop and the business of leasing instruments for school bands.

Brothers John and Tom Welhaven will continue to operate the instrument repair shop as an independent, related operation.

Music Mart has stores in Lamberton, Mankato and Faribault.

The transition happened quietly in the spring, though it is becoming more noticeable as the shop, now called Welhaven Music Mart, computerizes the business.

“I told the school band directors that the same guy is going to be calling on you. He’ll just have a different name on his shirt,” said John Welhaven.

He explained the change is kind of “a phased retirement” that actually brings the business back to what it was when his father Earl Welhaven started it in 1954.

“Now it is kind of coming full circle,” he said.

John and Jim Welhaven still own the 2,596-square-foot shop tucked in between a city parking ramp and a mosque at 15 North Broadway.

Music Mart leases the building, but John Welhaven doesn’t expect that to be a long-term situation. Music Mart is looking to move to a location with parking outside of downtown, while developers eye the 103-year-old building.

“They (Music Mart) will move and a developer will buy the building. That’s a fact,” Welhaven said.

While he knows some people blame the changes in downtown on Mayo Clinic’s Destination Medical Center initiative, Welhaven believes the transformation started long before DMC.

“We’ve been on Broadway for a long time. I know people are going to say it’s going to be one more (business leaving) … When Dad was here, Daytons, Wards and JC Penneys were all there, too. Downtown actually started to change when the Apache Mall was built and all of those anchors moved out,” he said.

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