Meet the Owner Series presents…
Harry Tueting opened Harry’s Guitar Shop in 1985, 32 years ago, all because his band needed equipment that no store sold. After a great deal of frustration, the next day he started working on his own shop and six months later, a business was born. Tueting began his career after attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in folklore. He held a corporate job for The Boy Scouts of America while maintaining his musical career with a band on the side. At this time, music was focused on 80s “glam rock” as Tueting would say, and he specialized in acoustic music, which very few store employees cared about. The dissatisfaction towards the big box music stores sparked some inspiration for Tueting towards the way stores are managed.
The first location of Harry’s was on West Johnson Street and was fairly small, compared to his current location. He chose the location primarily based off of a nearby restaurant, that he thought would bring in his projected target market. After being on West Johnson for a couple of years, Tueting moved the shop to Glenwood, which he says was a far better idea. Although Tueting enjoyed having the central location, the climate on Glenwood was not a great fit for retail. Not to mention, Harry’s Guitar Shop outgrew the space tremendously due to the popularity in lessons and the need for equipment.
Harry’s Guitar Shop sells all types fretted instruments including acoustic guitars, electric guitars, banjos, mandolins, and ukuleles. They also sell equipment and accessories and have a wide selection in the store. Tueting says that if they don’t have something a costumer wants in the store, they will order it for them, which is an aspect that contributes to their awesome customer service. “We are able to bring in new things, faster than the other big stores,” said Tueting. “The Raleigh area is a hotbed of creativity of all sorts of things and this helps my business, and other businesses, gain the clientele,” says Harry. “We have a great, wide group of customers and a lot of people play music in their life, not always for their livelihood.” Tueting prides his store being the oldest and largest guitar shop in North Carolina and sees a wide variety of people from all over the state.
I asked Tueting what advice he had for someone just starting their own business and he said, “treat people how you want to be treated.” With his major being folklore, Tueting was not familiar with many aspects of owning a business. “When it comes down to it, you run your business like you run your house,” said Tueting. “Don’t overextend yourself. If you can buy one car, you don’t buy three.” Tueting focuses on listening the needs of Harry’s Guitar Shop and budgets based on what is going to be successful for the business.
Harry’s Guitar Shop has six full time employees, a couple part-time, and a decent amount of independent teachers. There are nine studios for lessons, which he didn’t have the space for at the Glenwood location. The location on Pylon Drive is twice as big as the old location and has plenty of space to grow. There are 150-200 guitars in the shop on any given day. Their biggest market is for acoustic guitars and electric guitars. I asked Tueting what his favorite was and he laughed. “It really depends what I am doing at any given moment,” said Tueting. “I’ve played the same Taylor Guitar for over 30 years.” Tueting enjoys playing every day, especially with his wife and family.
I asked Tueting if he could describe Harry’s Guitar Shop as a genre of music, what it would be. I was surprised when he replied with “jazz.” Being a guitar shop, I assumed he would say rock and roll or even bluegrass. “It all fits in the frame of music,” he said. “Everyone who comes in can do their own thing with what we have in our store.”
Tueting says that he sees a wide group of people come in and learn from his employees, and he enjoys seeing their skills grow and they loyalty continue. “We are an easy target for people to come back to.”
Written by Megan Brown
Shop Local Raleigh Intern
Harry’s Guitar Shop
556 Pylon Dr, Raleigh, NC 27606