Jr's strikes a chord
Jr’s Music Store & More began with a dream. Today, through Lloyd France, Jr.’s hard work, it offers everything from instrument rentals to sound system support. “I’ve loved music all my life,” Jr says. “Coming up in school, I played drums in the band and sang in the choir.” Along with his parents, Jr sang in The Family Five Gospel. “The group is special because his grandparents started it 72 years ago,” says Toni, Jr’s wife.
Jr knew the retail music business; he worked for ten years at Woodall’s Music. “I was a sales rep and did guitar repairs,” he notes. “When Sandy Woodall closed the business, I saw an opportunity and seized it.” Woodall’s Music provided band instruments for local schools, and Jr did not want that to stop now. “I wanted these kids to have the same chance I did,” he says.
Plans took shape when Jr met with Longwood SBDC Consultant Kelvin Perry. “Kelvin and I sat down one afternoon and discussed everything I wanted to do,” Jr says. “The second time we met, we started putting plans into action. I worked with Kelvin for about four months.”
Jr attended an SBDC small business class taught by Kelvin at Patrick Henry Community College. “I learned about keeping financial records and how important growth is,” Jr says. “They told us to keep inventory low at first. If you don’t plan carefully, uncontrolled inventory can take you out of business.” Kelvin helped Jr craft a business plan, and his assistance paid off. Since opening, Jr’s customer base has grown.
Jr and Toni also participated in the SmartSTART program offered through Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation’s Small Business Division. “We received two grants through that program that came to about $6,000,” Toni notes. “That was very helpful.”
From the beginning, being helpful hit the right chord with Jr. “We want Jr’s Music to be a hands-on business,” he says. “It is family oriented; come in, sit down, try a guitar!” Jr’s offers sound system support to the local community. If a microphone goes out in church, Jr’s helps, often just before a service starts. Local schools depend on Jr’s for band instruments. Toni points to a display of clarinets, trumpets, and flutes. “We have affordable rent-to-own plans,” she adds. Jr’s also offers piano and guitar lessons for older students.
“Stop dreaming; start playing” is the store motto, which also applies to local recording artists. In the recording studio upstairs, people cut demos and CDs. Soon Jr’s Pickin’ Porch will open to local performers, and anyone who sings or plays is welcome. “For Christmas, we’ll plan a recital for our students,” Toni adds. “The whole purpose at Jr’s is sharing music,” Jr concludes. What more could anyone ask of a music store?