After 66 years, Bringe Music Center is closing in St. Petersburg. A liquidation sale of instruments, accessories, fixtures and more is happening now through June 25, the store’s last day.
The owners, Lynn Weigand and her partner Joan Clinger, have decided to retire. They purchased the business from Bill Findeison in 2000. Weigand has been working there since 1981.
“I just turned 65 and I’m tired,” Weigand said. “We decided that it was a good time to close and just go ahead and smell the roses a little bit before we’re too old to do that.”
She said the decision is bittersweet because so many people consider Bringe Music an icon in the community.
The building at 2129 First Ave. N traces its roots back to 1956, when it was Preston Music Co. In 1978, Findeison, a former band director at Lakewood High School, bought Bringe Music from Walter Bringe. That location was on Central Avenue near 40th Street. Two years later, needing more space, Findeison purchased the Preston Music building as that spot was starting to close. He ran Bringe Music for 23 years before selling it to Weigand, who was the general manager, and Clinger.
Since the beginning, one of the main facets of the center was to service schools throughout Tampa Bay as a school band dealer, selling them instruments and accessories and doing repairs. They also rented instruments to students who were interested in joining the school band and wanted to try instruments before buying them. Thousands of instruments were rented out to students over the years.
In addition to being a full music store selling a wide variety of instruments and accessories, the center had a School of Music where students took lessons.
News of the closing has sent a wave of emotion through the community.
“We’ve helped thousands upon thousands of students start band. Some of those students have turned into band directors,” Weigand said. “So we’re hearing from all different quarters of the universe, you know, it’s like, ‘oh, my granddaughter played this.’ ‘The School of Music was where my kids went.’ You know, ‘I bought my first flute and oboe from you.’ It’s been wonderful, you know, a lot of feedback on Facebook.”
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The start of online shopping was a blow to the business, Weigand said, but then people started to come around to the idea of paying more for the services they offer.
The owners considered finding someone to carry on the business, but realized that wasn’t their best option. But some of the tradition will live on through repair shop manager Clint Tate, who is opening his own repair shop in Safety Harbor. Findeison is in the process of selling the building, which he said would be torn down.
Weigand said the biggest loss schools will feel with the center closing is the instrument rentals, but they have sold instruments to band directors who will provide their use to students who can’t find one.
“It’s been our honor to serve the people of St. Pete and beyond,” she said. “We have always taken our responsibility to the community seriously and we believe in the intrinsic value of music and for kids learning music and anybody playing music. You know, society is much better when people are busy playing instruments instead of looking to get into trouble. So we will miss it, but we have been honored to be a part of the community for so long.”
Bringe Music Center will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 25. A farewell gathering will take place 4 p.m. June 17. Admission is a bottle of wine or champagne.