to Herter Music Center and thanks for visiting our History page. We'd
like to spend a few moments to tell you about how the Music Center came
serving an apprenticeship for several years in a music store in Mt.
Pleasant, Michigan, Herman Hardy opened a small piano and
in Standish in 1903. Hardy operated that
store for about 13 years
selling pianos and organs throughout northern Michigan.
those days were made by horse and wagon, and many times over roads that
were nothing but logging trails through the big woods. The pictures
show how pianos were "peddled, sold and delivered" in mustache-cup and
About 1916, a man who had been
tuning and repairing for Hardy and who
lived in Bay City said he thought he could sell
some pianos there. He
wanted to know if he could try it on a commission basis. Hardy
The tuner proceeded to sell so many pianos that he persuaded Hardy to
open a small store on a side street in Bay City, to be operated in
conjunction with the store in Standish. The volume of business grew so
that Hardy found it necessary to spend more and more time in Bay City.
The possibilities of doing business in a larger, more populous
community became gradually more apparent and attractive to Hardy so he
closed the Standish store and concentrated in Bay City.
In October 1917, Hardy found
it necessary to move to a larger, more
elaborate quarters on Center Avenue. Through most of the next three decades the scope of his
operations gradually expanded with the
changing times to include phonographs, records,
later home appliances.
In the next few years, an urge
to create a even more extensive store
and also an
establishment which would
differ radically from the
accepted, standardized type of music house began to take hold of Hardy. The ideas for this
new type of store evolved from years of
in musical merchandising. Hardy felt that his
another respect too - the treatment of customers, anyone who walks in
the front door regardless of whether he buys or not. Hardy used
low-pressure sales methods. They didn't close their eyes
to the value
and necessity of making sales, but low-pressure selling,
properly handled, can be more
effective and much more pleasant. The percentage of sales to "drop-ins"
is convincing proof. They carefully
trained and imbued their sales people with those principles.
tried to impart a pleasant, homelike atmosphere to his store so as make
shopping a final decision as "painless" as possible for the customer.
bought the Center Ave building about two years later in 1919,
decorated the music-store part of the building. They carried a variety
of musical instruments such as Connsonata electronic organ;
pianos were Cable Nelson, Everett, Gulbransen, Jesse French
and Story & Clark; radios were Stromberg Carlson, RCA Victor,
General Electric, Wilcox Gay Recordio, Brunswick, Artley, Majestic,
Bendix, Admiral and Stewart-Warner.
his Center Ave location to 309 Third street in December of
building just 3 blocks away which he shared with a Cadillac dealership.
Store Changed Hands
September 18, 1952.
Phil Herter, a former music teacher from Michigan Center High
School near Jackson and who had a Bachelors and Masters degrees in
music from the University of Michigan and Baldwin-Wallace
Conservatory of Music moved to Bay City and at the time Hardy had put
the business up for sale. Phil
took over the business September 1st and then purchased the
business from Herman Hardy on the 18th. Several weeks later,
Phil added a TV center along with a new band and orchestra
instrument section. With his own background and personal
experience driving him, offering the new band and orchestra sections
only seemed a natural thing to do. Along with the new sections, and his
background in teaching, he opened a new school of music and housed the
lessons in the second floor studios.
Several years later Phil changed the name from The Hardy Music
to The Music Center. Since he bought the business in 1952, he has moved
twice to larger quarters in Bay City - once to the Davidson Building
and eventually in 1963 to the present location at Washington Ave and
1963, Herters had also established a store in Midland and in downtown
Saginaw. Eventually the Midland location closed its doors. In
downtown Saginaw store moved to Fashion Square mall, also in Saginaw.
Then in 1982, finding the mall location not large enough, the company
began construction of a new 7,000 square foot location just down the
road from the mall on Tittabawassee Rd. The
Saginaw location has survived
once peppered with competition.
which closed its downtown Saginaw store in 1976, went
bankrupt in 1981.
Gridley Music Center shut its door in Saginaw Township in 1983, and
Whitehead Music Service Inc. closed its store in Thomas Township in
In July 1981, Herter Music Center ventured into a larger market and
opened a location in a strip mall on Linden Rd in Flint Michigan. This
brought in sales from Lansing to Port Huron and as far south as
Detroit. As business grew, so did the need for a larger building. In
the spring of 1987, Herter's began construction of a 7,000 square foot
building on Miller Rd between I-75 and the Genesee Valley Mall and in
February 1988 they opened their doors. The Flint store stayed open for
28 years before finally closing due to a struggling area economy from
local automotive factories shutting down and unemployment rising.
Truly a Family Business
the years, generations of Herter family members have worked for the
Phil's oldest child, has worked for the business since he was a young
boy and eventually took over as president of the company in 1985.
Phil's daughter Deborah Downing, has worked for the business since she
was 16 years old,
performing many tasks behind the scenes in the office and also took
Vice President. Phil's
wife June, worked in the record department and small goods.
chairman of the board,
and his wife still own stock in the company. All family members have
participated in management and operations. Fred's wife Genie, works in
the office doing Data Entry. Fred's oldest daughter
Natalie Martinez serves as store manager for the Bay City location.
Natalie's husband Ernie, managed the Flint location before it closed.
Deborah's daughter Heather Leser is manager of the Sheet Music
Department as well as coordinates Band Camp. Heather's husband
Terry performs tasks from computer administration to piano delivery.
term 'Family Business'
means more to the
Music Center than just the Herter Family running the operations though.
Being involved in community events over the years and
to be part of the lives of the customers who purchased from them, they
thought they should also look internal. The Music Center has hired
sons and daughters of employees over the years. More than just a Music Center
further be a part of the community and provide a "unique" service, the
music center constructed a smaller version of a railroad coach, fondly
referred to as the "P&O Keyboose". The keyboose housed a piano and
an organ and traveled to homes to provide lessons to a variety of
the years, Herter Music Center has participated in many community
events such as parades and fund raisers. One
such event has been reoccurring for over 20 years is
Band Camp. Band Camp allows sixth, seventh and eighth grade
students to spend one week refining their music expertise. Camp first started
at Delta College, but eventually the Music Center worked with the YMCA
of Saginaw and took it to the YMCA's Camp Timbers location in West Branch.
Students not only spent the week working on music, but also spent time
enjoying themselves with activities such as swimming, horseback riding
hope you enjoyed your trip down our memory lane. Thanks for
taking the time to read over our nostalgic and illustrious past.