MacArthur Music: The Fat Lady Sings Again

Liquidation ‘Yard Sale’ set for Feb. 15-16



First it was Dennis Pharmacy at United and Simonton, then Fast Buck Freddy’s on Duval, now MacArthur Music. On Feb. 28 another cherished Key West business institution dies as MacArthur Music, which started in one of the old Harris School studios 25 years ago, closes its door for the last time.

“It’s time to retire,” Carol Brooks told KONK Life at the store, for many years now located on a lane off Kennedy Drive, on a hot, sunny day last week.“We tried to sell, but it didn’t work. We had a buyer from Buffalo, N.Y. They could afford the business but couldn’t afford a house.”

Happily, Brooks and partner Chris Novak aren’t leaving the Keys, but they will spend more time up north visiting family, especially a four-year-old “grandbaby,” in upstate New York, Mya Grace, myriad photos of whom decorate the desk behind the store’s counter. Mya is clearly already a performer.

Founders back in 1988 were Phil and June MacArthur. Phil, who also taught math at the community college, did repairs and tuned pianos, while June, a writer, minded the shop. Brooks, June MacArthur’s sister, moved down to help out in 1992. The MacArthurs surprised friends by deciding to return to New York and in February 1999, Brooks and Novak bought the store.

Local youngsters (and adults) in all the performing arts will miss the one-stop music store, which was always tickets central for Keys Kids and any major performances in the schools and many outside; their front windows were (and as of this writing, still are) a veritable bulletin board of current and upcoming performances.

Beyond their community spirit, however, there are specific services MacArthur Music offered that will end with the store’s closing, including the rental and layaway sales of Yamaha keyboards and guitars, Clavinova digital pianos and virtually all band instruments, besides the published music and myriad musical accessories they have made easily available. Their motto has always been, “If we don’t have it, we’ll get it.”

The store has been a major support of all school bands from Key West to Sugarloaf as well as the Bahama Village Music Program, the Keys Chorale and local theaters. Youngsters could rent an instrument just to try it out and, if necessary, then participate in their rent-to-own program. Visitors rented keyboards for their own enjoyment, “for a day, a week, a month,” Carol said. For years, Rob O’Connell was on hand to give guitar and ukulele lessons on site six days a week, with students of all ages.


For a while, at least, some of those services will remain in the form of a referral listing for all kinds of music teachers, instrument repair (Joe Dallas, Jr., she said) and the like that Brooks plans to run from home. They plan to keep the store’s phone number, (305) 294-9239, and callers will be able to get the referrals they need.

But the merchandise has to be sold; to that end an in-store “yard sale” is set for the weekend of Feb. 15-16, from 7:30 a.m. till 2 p.m. each day. “Everything must go,” Brooks said firmly.

She invites everyone to shop for real bargains — and share a bittersweet goodbye.



MacArthur Music owners Carol Brooks, at right, and Chris Novak will liquidate remaining merchandise at a “yard sale” from 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., Feb. 15 and 16.



The lonely guitars.



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