ashland.news
July 21, 2024

New Talent music store seems to have struck a chord

Customer Will Sharrer and Plectrum Music owner Daniel Porter both happen to have on Pink Floyd shirts. Ashland.news photo by Morgan Rothborne
September 13, 2023

Plectrum owner says as many customers coming in per day as used to in a month in prior location

By Morgan Rothborne, Ashland.news

“As far as I’ve been told, I’m the only music store ever in Talent,” said Daniel Porter, owner of Plectrum Music Company. 

At his new shop at 806 S. Pacific Highway on a Friday afternoon, Porter leaned into a chair surrounded by gleaming guitars, racks of straps, strings and stacks of amps. 

Porter can promise his customers all things guitar with the personal understanding of a musician of over 40 years. The store is proud to be the largest Alvarez dealer south of Portland, the only dealer in Oregon selling Kepma guitars — and Alvarez’s hand-constructed and hand-carved Yairi models. But even as he listed off lavish high-end guitars, he emphasized it’s also important to him to accommodate a working man’s budget in his shop.

Owner Daniel Porter poses for a photo at the counter of his new shop, Plectrum Music. Ashland.news photo by Morgan Rothborne

Porter also offers in-store guitar repair. The day he set up his workbench, customers were lining up asking for help before he was finished putting it together, he said. There is currently no waiting list for repairs and customers are welcome to bring in their instruments for a consultation during store hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

The shop’s phone rang and, as he moved to answer, Porter shook his head. “It’s been like this since I opened — nonstop,” he said. 

After 13 years of living in and three years operating Plectrum Music in comparatively slow and isolated Burns, 200-plus miles to the northwest in eastern Oregon, Porter has been pleasantly surprised with the traffic at his new store. When he opened the doors for the first time on Aug. 26, the response was overwhelming. 

“I had more people in my store in one day than an entire month in Burns,” he said. 

The store in Burns was successful, he said, but the local population wasn’t enthusiastic enough to support growth — only a kind of plateau. The store in Talent is a choice born of optimism, a calculated gamble to live a dream deferred by the tragedies of the previous three years, Porter explained. 

In early 2020, Porter and his wife had sold their home and were looking to move to Ashland. He had potential jobs lined up with organizations such as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Live at the Armory. But then, just as the couple prepared to move, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world. He looks back, grateful that he hadn’t been able to move when he wanted to, as new hires are often subjected to lay-offs first.

Then, later that year, he and his wife tried again.

Guitars on display at Talent’s new music store, Plectrum Music. A “plectrum” is a thin piece of metal, bone, plastic, etc., used for plucking. Ashland.news photo by Morgan Rothborne

“One of the houses we were making an offer on, it burned down in the Almeda Fire (on Sept. 8, 2020),” he said. 

A few months ago, he and his wife were visiting the Rogue Valley, hoping to find a way to make it work on the third try. 

“We were driving out of (Ashland), and we passed it — we both said ‘Did you just see a for lease sign?’ We called, we saw it, we signed that night,” he said of his new business space.

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Visit the Plectrum Music Company website at plectrummusiccompany.com.

Now, with Plectrum Music open, Porter is finally in Talent but he isn’t really settled, he said. He’s renting an Airbnb unit with an understanding that his needs are semi-long term. 

“I don’t have a house, I’ve sunk all my money into this. … It will work. I’ve done a lot of crazy things in my life, but I’m a planner. I calculate all the pluses and minuses, then I do it. … It’s going to go like a locomotive — slow to start, but it’s going to go and it’s going to go hard,” he said. 

From the drizzle outside, incoming high school freshman Will Sharrer (also known as Alex) stepped into the store, slowly moving through the racks of instruments. 

Asked what she needed, Sharrer replied she was looking for reeds, as she’ll be playing in the band at her high school in the fall. Shy at first, as she was standing at the register she noticed she and Porter were both wearing Pink Floyd T-shirts. A bubbly conversation followed. As she left the store, Porter turned away, almost misty-eyed. 

Passing music on to the next generation is a passion, he said. He’s always moved to see little children coming into the shop and holding a guitar for the first time. With a small business in a small town, one musician selling to others, relationships are possible. 

“You get to see those kids grow up. … You light that spark, you fan it, it’s going to create fire,” he said. 

Email Ashland.news reporter Morgan Rothborne at morganr@ashland.news.

Plectrum Music is next door to Crown Market at 806 S. Pacific Highway. Ashland.news photo by Morgan Rothborne
Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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