New owners take on the Great Divide
October 1, 2007
ASPEN ” The local undersheriff and a well-regarded area musician are teaming up to buy the Great Divide Music Store in Aspen, which founder Sandy Munro has run for the past 30 years or so.
The changeover will take place at the start of 2008, after the finalization of the sale to Pitkin County Undersheriff Joe DiSalvo and well-known musician Michael Jude, who currently plays with Take The Wheel and once was the bassist for Little Blue.
Munro put the business up for sale back in August, carrying a price tag of $200,000, which he said included roughly $160,000 in inventory but no real estate. The store long has been on the Monarch Street side of the Moore building at the corner of Monarch and Main streets, and will continue to do business there.
DiSalvo, who moved here from New York in the 1970s, said that essentially he is a “silent partner” who came up with the financing, the details of which he declined to discuss. He said the partners plan to do a little renovation and remodeling of both the exterior and interior of the space, but that not much else will change.
Jude, who has lived in the area for 14 years after moving here from New York, said he will be overseeing the work on the space, which probably will close the store in November for a few days. He is to be the on-site managing partner of the store once it reopens under new ownership.
Jude said the idea to buy the store came up in August, when DiSalvo called him to ask if he wanted to be a partner in a music store. Having worked in music retail in the past, he was skeptical at first but soon warmed to the idea.
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DiSalvo, who had been taking guitar lessons at the store for three years, said he read about Munro’s decision to sell the store in a newspaper article and decided it was a chance he should not pass up.
“I have a passion for guitars, believe it or not, although I’m not a good player,” he confessed. “I’ve always just loved the store. I didn’t want to see it go away. I was worried about that.”
DiSalvo said he will keep his job with the sheriff’s office and won’t be much of a presence at the store.
“January first, the store will change hands, and Michael will be the face of the store,” he said. “I can’t tell you how excited I am.” He added that his wife, Marcy, an amateur pianist, “was more excited than I was” about the idea.
Jude said the business will remain essentially the same, selling guitar straps, strings and picks to local musicians, and CDs to the general public.
“What we’d like to do is switch the focus and make it a vintage guitar store” beyond the scope of the current shop, bringing in more electric guitars than Munro has had on the walls and nationalizing the store’s reputation even more than it already is.
“Ultimately, what I really would love to do is keep the feeling of a local music store but be much more far-reaching,” Jude said, “so that when the Beaters come to town, they’ll want to come in to the shop to see what we have.”
He’ll work even more closely with nationally known vintage-guitar dealer Michael Jones, who has been working with Munro for a couple of years already.
“He’s, like, probably one of the top five in the country when it comes to vintage guitars,” Jude said. And Jude himself has a wide circle of musician friends, some of whom play with national acts such as Crosby, Stills and Nash and singer/songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Munro, who has said he is pleased to be selling the shop to Jude and DiSalvo, will continue working there “a couple of days a week,” playing music and working on a book he hopes to publish based on his family’s history.
John Colson’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org