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Counting down to day the music dies

Mainstreet Musicworks owners Mark Renalson and Deirdre McNulty will close the lower Thames St business next month. Photo: Daniel Birchfield

In the future, April 18 may well be remembered as the day the music died in Oamaru.

After being unable to find a buyer for 18 months, Mainstreet Musicworks owners Mark Renalson and Deirdre McNulty have decided to close their lower Thames St store after nine and a-half years.

Mr Renalson said the decision to shut was not an easy one, but due to a downturn in sales, could not be avoided. The drop in sales, particularly over the past four years, was due to the impact of online shopping, second-hand products on the internet and changing demographics.

The pair will remain based in Oamaru and focus on their sound equipment hire business.

Looking back, Mr Renalson, who has played in various bands in Oamaru since the 1980s, said it was the love of music which made him want to enter the music retail sector.

''Basically, it was a desire to share our own expertise and enliven the music scene in Oamaru really.

''I think it's grown quite a bit since then, but possibly now it's at a plateau. It grew quite well for the first six years, but then started to plateau off.''

Another factor was ''there is probably less trends today.''

However, certain things did still influence what people bought.

Mr Renalson said smaller-sized guitars, the style played by Ed Sheeran, were in demand when he visited our shores last year and more recently, the Academy Award-winning film Bohemian Rhapsody had resulted in people coming in looking for drum cymbals.

He and Ms McNulty both agreed that the highlight of their time in the business was making a connection with people and seeing them walk out of the store satisfied.

''It's the joy on people's faces when they buy an instrument.

''They go away happy, smiling. They know they've made a great choice.''

They were also sad the store would not longer be able to support North Otago fundraisers, support music in schools, offering services such as restringing and setting up instruments and prompting North Otago musicians and music tutors.

Mr Renalson and Ms McNulty both held out hope that a buyer would come along at the last minute but said that was looking less likely by the day.

''We were hoping that a person with a fresh point of view would have been interested in purchasing the store as it still has untapped potential that requires different skills to what we can offer.''

daniel.birchfield@odt.co.nz

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