The huge signs currently hanging in the window of T.I.S. Music Shop on 3rd Street read “25% off.” They have been enticing local musicians since the end of spring break. But for many, the “Store Closing” signs serve as a more important, cogent reminder that this longstanding local business is down to its final gasps.
The store, unable to compete with the Internet in what T.I.S. president Tim Tichenor has labeled a “small-niche market,” will close sometime mid-May or early June. The actual date depends on when inventory levels sink low enough.
A memorandum sent out by the Tichenor family, who collectively run the T.I.S. company, stated that the store’s closing, “follows a national trend in music retailing whereby publishers gradually reached directly to the customer through the powerful Internet.”
T.I.S. Music Shop has been in operation in Bloomington since the 1960’s. It used to reside inside the general T.I.S. Bookstore location under different management, under its original name, “Curry’s.” T.I.S. took over ownership of the store in 1983 and moved it to its current location down the street in 1999. The store mainly sells sheet music, but it also provides customers with other music-related items such as metronomes and tuning forks. T.I.S. runs a music catalog operation out of the store as well.
While the music shop will not move back to its old spot within T.I.S. Bookstore, Tichenor said the bookstore will take over stocking certain items such as Jacobs School of Music apparel and music books related to classes. “We hope we can continue to serve the School of Music in some capacity,” said Tichenor. For the most part, though, patrons of the music shop – mostly Jacobs students and faculty – will have to move to the Internet for their sheet music demands.
Tichenor said the demonstrated commitment of longtime store employees made the decision to close extremely difficult. Music shop manager Stephen Chambers has worked there for 20 years. When asked what his plans were for after the store’s closure, Chambers responded simply, “I don’t know, at this point.” T.I.S. is offering a severance package to the shop’s employees.
Despite the struggles of the music shop, T.I.S. Bookstore will remain open. Business there, according to Tichenor, “is still very strong.”