Sam Ash Music Stores
A chain store that has retained
its founder’s policies
Back in 1924, a young
married couple decided to open a music store. Actually, it
was Rose Ash’s idea.
Husband Sam was a violinist and bandleader. He also taught
the violin and had learned to repair them. His day job had
been as a fabric cutter in a dress factory. Rose was a bookkeeper
in a home for the aged. She felt that running a store
would give them more stability. Soon they found a young widow
in their own Brownsville section of Brooklyn, NY, who wanted
to sell her store. She would let them pay it out. For
the $400 down payment the couple pawned Rose’s engagement
ring. Later she got it back.
Sam continued to present
his band at dances and weddings. They lived in a small apartment
behind the store and started a family. Son Jerry was born
in 1925, and Paul in 1929. The “Great Depression” hit in 1929, and
most people and businesses went through hard times. They
barely survived. Rose often remembered the day a customer came
in to have his violin bow re-haired. She made him wait while
Sam did the job. She took the 75¢ payment directly to
the grocery store.
Sam’s honesty, friendliness and hard work,
built a reputation second to none. He added to the inventory
and selection as he could. Things picked up a little. Daughter
Marcia was born in 1935. Sam bought a car and started to deliver
sheet music to piano teachers. The store’s location was
difficult to reach by public transportation, and few people
owned a car. They moved the store to a better location
in the early 1940’s. World War II was on and Jerry was
serving with the Army in Europe. Paul worked in the store
After the war, Jerry took an interest in the
musical instruments that started to re-appear. He also cultivated
school business. Soon his bride, Bernice, joined the team.
Sam died in 1956. Three years later, the boys
moved the store to a larger corner store. In 1959, they opened
a store on Long Island and then another.
Fast forward to 2005. There
are 45 Sam Ash stores in 14 states, a mail order/catalog
division, and a manufacturing company.
While Jerry, Paul and
Bernice are still active, the company is mostly run by David,
Richard and Sam, the three sons of Jerry & Bernice.
The firm has been at
the forefront of new product development. First with synthesizers,
electronic pianos, disc jockey gear, packaged sound systems
and more. They sell
many thousands of guitars, but they still offer the wind and
string instruments, drums, and sheet music that Sam started
with. And Sam’s integrity is the rock the company
is built on. #