While Lance and Meg Roederer settled on opening a music store 25 years ago, the success of Flagstaff’s Arizona Music Pro has allowed the two to be a part of something much more than just a business.
“Regardless of age or ability, it’s wonderful to see the joy music can bring into people’s lives,” Lance says. “It helps them through hard times. We get a lot of people that come in and treat their relationship with music as a therapy. It’s therapy for a lot of people. Being able to be a part of that is incredibly gratifying.”
Both graduates of Northern Arizona University, Lance and Meg held various other jobs for a few years before starting the business 25 years ago. Lance, who attended NAU on a full music scholarship, said the need for a shop like Arizona Music Pro in Flagstaff became clear while he was as a student.
After struggling to find some of the basic supplies a music student needed, Lance said he and his wife felt the music industry was the right path. Opening in 1994 just across North Agassiz Street in the storefront currently filled by Jeff Karl Jewelers, Arizona Music Pro started out with a much more modest inventory than it holds in 2019.
Starting out with about 10 guitars, a few string sets and some other basic accessories, Lance says as they sold two guitars they would turn around and buy three to steadily grow the business.
However, managing the demand of their customers became one of the toughest obstacles in the early days.
“Honestly, I used to say kind of jokingly that it was basically just holding onto the reins and trying to manage the growth. It really exploded much quicker than we anticipated,” Lance says. “It just took off so fast, we weren't prepared for that. A good problem to have for sure, but that was definitely an unforeseen obstacle.”
The business moved a few addresses over to its current location on Route 66 in 1999, expanding into lessons with the Arizona Music Pro Lessons Academy. With his father and grandfather both musical educators, Lance said teaching had been a part of his life from the very beginning.
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“That’s probably the most rewarding part of this business,” Lance says. “Watching some of those young kids learning music, being able to enjoy the benefits of making music and really seeing young musicians blossom.
“One of the coolest examples is Michelle Branch. She grew up down in Sedona, and I remember when she and her dad came in,” he continues. “She was too young to even drive at that point, but she was starting to make a name for herself. She kind of found the limelight pretty early in life. I remember when she and her dad came in and bought her first real guitar, a Taylor guitar. That was really cool to see her career take off.”
Thanking the store’s customers, staff, friends and Flagstaff in general, Lance said they could not have succeeded in such a way or won "Best in Flag" on multiple occasions without the support over the years.
And as shopping trends have changed through the years, with the rise of internet sales, Lance says he and his staff’s ability to make connections with musicians offers a shopping experience that is more engaging and personal. The ability for customers to see if something feels right or sounds right is “what sets us apart and gives people a reason not to buy online,” Lance adds.
While watching younger musicians start out has been a highlight of the Roederers' run with the business, Lance says the roughly 250 students attending the music academy weekly range in ages from anywhere between 5 to 85 years old. With new, used and rental instruments available in their inventory, as well as free clinics and workshops with musicians, Lance said the shop, and music itself, is always available to people.
“Our motto, which is actually part of our logo, is ‘Play the very best you can,’” Lance says. “And so we really try to live that. Our goal is really to just try to help them be the best they can be.
“Music will always be there for you whenever you are ready. A lot of time, myself included, people will take a break from music in their lives,” Lance says, “But it's always there for you when you are ready for it.”