Some businesses offer more than goods or services. They're a place to shoot the breeze, a bar without the booze, a destination.
Chuck's Music aims to be that kind of place, says Jesse Taylor, who owns it with his father, Doc Taylor.
"It's like a barbershop for musicians. We talk, we know what's going on, we help each other out," says Jesse, 36, who used to tour as a professional musician and was a frequent visitor to Chuck's when the man himself, Charlie Moreland, owned it, in a different location on Southland Drive.
After Moreland retired, there was a void in Jesse's life. Where was he to buy his music supplies? Where would he find communion with like-minded souls?
He talked to Moreland, who told him that he could have the old sign if he wanted to reopen the store.
Jesse went to Doc and asked him if he'd want to go in on the deal, and in the summer of 2010, after a two-year break, Chuck's Music reopened.
The beat goes on
On a recent afternoon, Jesse and Doc had just taken delivery of 35 guitars, an order for Sayre School's music program. As they're tuning and talking, a visitor comes in and sits down.
"This guy here was actually one of the original guys from the old shop," says Jesse. "He's an electronics guy. He hung out and would help fix things. As soon as this place was open the regulars came back, so it was like it never skipped a beat."
"It was like déjà vu all over again," says Mark Watson, the visitor, who agrees to have his picture taken only if there's a clock in the photo that reads 5:05. (No worries — it will be published on a national holiday.)
"He still fixes stuff and is one of the greatest guys I've ever met, and it's all because of opening this shop," says Jesse.
Filling up the wagon
Jesse and Doc Taylor are Virginia natives, from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but have been in Lexington since 1987.
Doc, 69, grew up surrounded by music.
"My dad played guitar, mandolin. I don't consider myself a musician really, I play a little," says Doc, who spent a career working for an engineering firm on highway construction. But to Jesse, he's a born entrepreneur.
"He's always had ideas for businesses, and knows a good deal when he sees it," Jesse says of his dad.
This particular good deal came with a small hitch: not a lick of inventory. And Doc did not want to go into debt.
"You can't sell anything off an empty wagon, so to get stuff to sell we started out with consignment," says Doc. Fate stepped in and lent a hand: A man died who'd had a knack for buying guitars, close to 200 in all.
"His family couldn't walk in the house because there were guitars everywhere," says Jesse. "The kitchen, the bathroom. The family consigned all of them with us. And that's how we got going."
It was, he says, a "true blessing," and a sign that Chuck's Music was destined for a comeback.
Now the shop is about 20 percent consignment. It's filled with new, used and vintage instruments — acoustic and electric. If you're in the market for a dulcimer shaped like Kentucky, you can find it there.
Jesse holds up a banjitar — part banjo, part guitar — made by a local luthier.
"I'm very proud of our customers. Anything that anyone's done or accomplished, I display it," he says.
He's also proud of the recording studio upstairs, something the old Chuck's didn't have. On this day, two students in Morehead State's traditional music program are playing banjo and fiddle, two-thirds of a group called the Local Honeys. They often play with Jesse's current band, Jollett Hollow, named after the Taylors' Virginia home.
Though he still is on stage often, studio work is what he likes best and he spends a lot of time up there. "My place is behind the computer, mixing somebody's music," he says. "I've been doing it since I was a kid."
Two doors down
Jesse used to tour with another group, the Gloria Bills. But after six years, he was ready to quit the road. He came home and, as luck would have it, in 2005 he "met a woman." That woman now has the last name Taylor and is in charge of Doc's other business, A-1 Vacuum Sales and Service, two doors down.
How did Doc go from part-owner of Chuck's Music to full owner of a vacuum shop?
"The guy who owned it was ready to retire," says Jesse. "He came in last year and asked if we knew anyone who wanted to buy the shop. I called Dad and tongue-in-cheek asked him if he wanted to buy a vacuum-cleaner place. He said, 'How much?' The inventory was there; we just walked right in. And Britt loves it." That same old feeling
Another visitor has dropped in to Chuck's and is checking out the shipment of guitars bound for Sayre.
That's Jay Fore, a retired Lafayette teacher, Jesse says. He's in a band called the Famous Deceptors.
What does Fore think of the new Chuck's? Is it just like the old Chuck's?
"It's a music hub in the south end of Lexington," says Fore. "There are all kinds of supplies, and it's just a good place to talk music."
A statement like that, it's fair to say, is music to Jesse's ears.
IF YOU GO
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10-6 (closed Labor Day)
Where: 132 Southland Dr., 1-C
To contact: (859) 277-1649; www.chucksmusiconline.com
A-1 Vacuum Sales and Service
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9-5:30; Sat. 9-1 (closed Labor Day)
Where: 132 Southland Dr., 1-A
To contact: (859) 278-8445; a1vacuumoflexingtonky.com
Vicky Broadus: (859) 231-3516.