Guitar Center is the latest store to open in the downtown mall. Photo by Mike Diegel.
The Los Angeles-based company bills itself as “the world’s largest retailer of guitars, amplifiers, drums, keyboards, recording, live sound, DJ, and lighting equipment.” The Silver Spring store is the fifth in the D.C. market and number 282 in the U.S.
“It’s a beautiful market, beautiful area,” said Rick Wallis, regional vice president for the company. “The way that the city lays out and the way that we strategically place our stores—this was a prime location for us.
“There’s a lot of people moving to this area, there’s a lot of activity and we want to make it convenient for our customers,” he continued. “We only had a few stores in the local market area, so we’re trying to establish ourselves locally enough so that each individual has basically their own store.”
The new store, which is 14,500 square feet, will employ about 20 full- and part-time workers at the outset. Wallis, who manages 97 stores for the company, said there are plans to do performances by students, faculty and customers in the plaza outside the mall.
The company tries to make its outlets one-stop shops for musicians and those who would like to be musicians, Wallis said. In addition to shopping for instruments and equipment, customers can try out instruments, get items repaired or come in for lessons. The store also offers rental gear.
“We want to be the one destination where everybody goes,” he said. “We want you to come here, feel welcome and be able to get anything that you need for your musical needs.”
Wallis, who formerly fronted an ’80s-style metal band, pointed out that it’s never too late to get started in music.
“If you’re someone who isn’t a musician and you want to start finding a hobby or something to really enjoy and enhance your life, music’s a great way to do it,” he said. “It’s a great way to connect with other people [and] it’s a great way to relax at the end of stressful day.”
A few of the many instruments on display in Guitar Center. Photo by Mike Diegel.