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Business // Entrepreneurs
Christina O’Connor

Kaimuki Music Store Carries On Legacy

As a trumpet player and orchestra conductor, Harry Yoshioka wanted to provide a place that could offer other musicians supplies they needed. In 1946, he and his two brothers opened Harry’s Music Store in Kaimuki, which quickly became a go-to spot for instruments, accessories, sheet music, repairs and more.

Now, nearly 70 years later, Harry’s Music Store is run by Harry’s nephews, Alan and Clay Yoshioka, whose father Clifford was one of the store’s founders. Clay grew up hanging out in the store, helping with things such sweeping the floor, while older brother Alan has been working at Harry’s since he was in high school. In the 1970s, a 20-something Clay joined Alan to work at the store full time, and has been there ever since.

“There were a lot of good times when we had the whole family working at the store back in the 1970s and 1980s,” recalls Clay, who grew up playing the clarinet.

After closing down their longtime location in 2012, Harry’s Music Store reopened across from Sacred Hearts Academy last year.

It might be a new location, but customers can still find the same goods: CDs and records by local musicians, instructional books for various instruments, and speakers, as well as a collection of instruments, including guitars, ukulele, drums and violins. The store also is stocked with accessories such as guitar strings and straps.

Harry’s Music Store has a close relationship with a number of local schools; band directors from schools across the island turn to Harry’s for their students’ needs. The store also offers instrument and electronic repairs.

Not only does Harry’s provide current musicians with supplies, it has helped to cultivate the talents of many new musicians on the second floor of the store’s building – a long hallway lined with private music studios that instructors rent to conduct lessons in voice, drums, piano and more.

Throughout the years, the company has faced numerous challenges. Recently the store has been forced to compete with other music suppliers selling their goods online, sometimes at cheaper prices. To adjust to the shifting marketplace, Harry’s Music Store aims to uphold its dedication to quality goods and service in order to compete.

“We try to keep instruments that we feel are the best buy for the price,” Clay says. “And we have the expertise. We have people here who know their instruments and know their products.”

Through it all, a fervent dedication to keeping the family business thriving has guided their business practices.

“We want to keep the name of Harry’s Music Store going. That is the goal,” Clay explains. “We try to keep it in the family.”

The family-run store seems to foster a family-like environment with its customers as well. One afternoon, a customer is greeted immediately by his first name by three employees as soon as he walks through the doors.

Meanwhile, Emogene Yoshimura browses through the music books while she talks story with Clay. Yoshimura, a veterinarian who plays guitar and piano in her spare time, first stopped by Harry’s about 50 years ago, back when she was a high school student taking guitar lessons. Throughout the years, she has bought a guitar from the shop, as well as sheet music. She came by Harry’s this particular afternoon to find a music book of Disney songs to learn on the piano.

“We need stores like Harry’s Music because they sell everything you need,” Yoshimura says.

“What I like about it is the feeling. You know, it just has a very welcoming feeling when you come in here.”

coconnor@midweek.com

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