Katzin Music & Studios, after 39 years serving musicians and music students in Durango and the Four Corners, will close its doors at the end of the month.
“This is so hard to give it up,” said Ruth Katzin, who owns the shop with her son, Jim Gillaspy; her daughter, Cathie Duncan; and her son-in-law, Scott Duncan.
Like many small retailers, Katzin said the shop has been hurt by online sales – starting with Guitar Center and then facing the even more powerful presence of Amazon.
In addition, the store, which at one time had more than 10,000 titles of sheet music, was hurt by the easy availability of free sheet music on the internet, Gillaspy said.
“We put together the numbers, and it just wasn’t working,” she said.
Besides sales of musical instruments, sheet music and musical equipment, the store was the focus of private music education in Durango, even the Four Corners.
About 300 students weekly were taking private lessons provided by 30 music instructors, who worked as independent contractors with the store. “It’s all about supporting music education at all ages,” Katzin said.
She said the business is in talks with Stillwater Music, a nonprofit involved in music education, to continue providing lessons and studio services popular with many amateur musician.
Katzin noted her shop is not unique; small, independent music stores have also closed recently in Denver and Albuquerque.
Katzin’s closing leaves Durango without a music shop after Band Wagon Music, which was located on College Avenue, closed in June 2017.
Katzin said the shop’s customers weren’t limited to Durango, and a good deal of business came from Farmingtion, Cortez, Pagosa Springs – some music students even coming from northeast Arizona.
Roger Zalneraitis, executive director of La Plata County Economic Alliance, said his analysis of factors behind sales-tax growth always predicted higher increases in sales than what was actually seen, but when he took into account the loss of population in Farmington, the predictions improved dramatically.
“Since 2010, San Juan County, New Mexico, has lost about the same population as the city of Durango,” he said. “You can imagine what would happen to your business if the entire population of Durango disappeared – probably nothing good. But that’s what’s happened in San Juan County.”
All items at the store are marked 20 percent off through Saturday, when items will be marked down to 30 percent, and at some point, any remaining inventory will be marked down 50 percent or more, Gillaspy said.
The business opened in Durango in 1979 by Katzin and her ex-husband, Bob Katzin. It has been at its current location, 1316 Main Ave., Suite D, in the Crossroads Center, since 2003. It originally opened in the Durango Mall and also had a store in Farmington for about six years in the 1980s.
Besides the four owners, the store had three employees, Roger Smith, Stella Dickson and Logan Gasdia.
“I care about my employees. They are my family. I care about my teachers. I care about my customers. Stella cried. She said, ‘I know all the students. I know all the parents. We care so much about our customers,’” Katzin said.
But Katzin said she doesn’t want to linger on the negative.
“We’ve done a good job of promoting school musicians and the value of music education,” she said.
She noted the shop worked with Mark Walters, director of bands at Fort Lewis College, to start Southwest Civic Winds five years ago to provide an outlet for adults who wanted to keep their musical skills sharp.
The shop also worked with Music in the Mountains, providing instruments for Instrument Discovery Day held each year at FLC.
In the end, Gillaspy said the internet provided an outlet for musicians to buy and sell their instruments online, bypassing small shops that had filled the niche.
Katzin said the missing link with online sales is the product knowledge her staff could provide novices.
“People would come in and say: ‘I need strings, but I don’t know what kind,’” she said.
Gillaspy said people are now using the internet and Amazon reviews to replace the knowledge found by musician-employees with years of experience at ma-and-pa shops.
“They used to rely on our years of expertise and years of knowledge, and they’ve traded it all in for Amazon reviews, four-star and five-star reviews,” he said.