Guitar Man/Shopkeeper Sells Six Strings & More

by Nathan Oravec


For The Guitar Room, 315 North Cleveland Avenue in Hagerstown, a musical instrument marketing presence in the community for many, many years, the inception of stock beyond that of its nomenclature didn’t necessarily call for a name-change, but, instead, an amendment of sorts. As it evolved, the store gradually added DJ equipment; stage lighting and sound systems; CD players; mixers and even school band instruments to its impressive roster - becoming multifaceted in its musical oeuvre. “We had to add the slogan, ‘Not Just Guitars,’” exclaims R. Craig Schoppert about his shop’s ever-expanding inventory. “We didn’t want to change the name, we’ve been around for so long.”

Indeed, Schoppert’s father’s store, sharing the same signature, had done business in the Martinsburg area for over two decades when, in 1985, the company’s patriarch approached his son with the proposal to launch a new venture, branching off with a satellite store in Hagerstown. The deal was made, deeds signed, and The Guitar Room opened downtown soon after, where it operated successfully until three years ago, when the ravages of a fire forced Schoppert to scout a new locale for the family business.

The Guitar Room would find a new home in a spacious storefront on North Cleveland Avenue in town, where it opened anew - with the same name, a brand-new look, and what Schoppert touts modestly as “pretty much a full line [of music products].” Included in this line are quality guitar products from trusted brands such as Martin, Tacoma, Guild, Samick, Jackson and Schecter; PA Gear from Peavey Products; American DJ mixers and CD equipment; stage lighting; sound equipment and much, much more. From picks to pulse-pounding amplifiers, The Guitar Room quickly became a one-stop, comprehensive shopping experience for the amateur to the professional musician.

In addition, Schoppert proudly assists those studying the trade. “We started a school band rental program about six years ago,” he explains. “Which was great. It really got us into the schools.” Encompassing all of Washington County, band instruments are available for rent to students as well as for purchase.

It is important to note, says Schoppert, that The Guitar Room services all instruments and equipment that it sells; an added, hometown store convenience that is rapidly disappearing in an increasingly industrialized world. “We’re also competitive with mail order and Internet sales. Being able to purchase these instruments locally, I think, is the key to good service, which is usually the biggest thing people look at.”

For all that it offers, the staff of The Guitar Room is rather minimal. Schoppert and his wife, Vicky, share in operating duties, while local musician Rob Richardson also serves as a regular employee and part time help is sporadically enlisted to help out. Beyond his work at The Guitar Room, Richardson plays for the local band Jester. According to Schoppert, the store has worked with many local bands and talents throughout the Tri-State area, an opportunity he is always pleased to encounter.

One of the biggest and most recent developments for The Guitar Room, is the refurbishment of its web site, www.GuitarRoom.com, something Schoppert is very excited about. In addition to customer links to all of the manufacturers - such as Peavey - that the store deals with; location information; updates and e-mail capability - plans are in the works for an online catalog for the store. “We’ll have an actual catalog online for all of our music products and, in the near future, a lighting section for the web site. Everything will be online and available for purchase, probably by spring of 2004.”

So, it seems big things are in store for the future of The Guitar Room, whose business continues to grow. For the Hagerstown habitant, serving musicians throughout Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, the word is out - here, it’s “not just guitars”, but quality products, person-to-person service, and more instruments than you can shake a six-string at.

The phones are ringing.

For Schoppert, that’s music to his ears.

Hours for The Guitar Room, 315 North Cleveland Avenue in Hagerstown, are Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The store is closed on Sunday. For more information, call 301-797-2464 or visit www.GuitarRoom.com.