“There is nothing else quite like it.”
That is what customers say about a Silver Spring music store that is closing for good after being in business for well over half a century.
At Dale Music, they have reached the final verse of a long and lovely tune.
“Oh, I think it's the best music store that I've ever known of,” said one customer at the store’s final day.
“I've never seen so many customers in the store,” said owner Carol Warden.
Warden's parents opened the store on Georgia Avenue in 1950. There have been lots of memorable customers and even a few future celebrities.
“Goldie Hawn used to come in,” Warden told us. “Her father came in. She bought a show score for her high school musical and she didn't get the part. She wanted to come in and return it.”
Did she get her money back?
“I don't remember. My mother handled her,” she said laughingly.
Rachel Jayson stopped by to say goodbye. She begged for a job here right after high school.
“I worked in the instrument department for three and a half years,” Jayson said. “I had no idea what I was going to do -- if I was going to go to college. I was fresh out of high school and this store is the reason that I did everything with my life.”
“I’ve got dozens of gigs, played with many orchestras in the area just because the directors and other players were coming through. The band director at Howard University found me here and gave me a gig. And then said, 'Why aren't you in college?'”
Jayson is a teacher now. She has conducted an orchestra of teenagers. Those who work here have grown accustomed to vague questions.
One example Warden recalled: “The book has a red cover. My piano teacher told me to pick it up.”
Ed Hardy has worked here for 41 years. Nobody knows sheet music like him.
Customers have come up to him and asked, “I don't know the name of this, but it goes like this. And they will hum a few bars and we get it.”
Can Hardy almost always figure out what they are talking about?
“Pretty much,” he said.
When they say they have everything here at Dale Music -- they mean it. Where else can you get Mozart and Hannah Montana off the same shelf?
“They're so sad,” Warden said of the customers. “Some customers have even wanted to try to figure out how they can buy the place. [They ask] where are they going to go.”
Where will these customers have to go now?
“They're probably have to go to the internet,” Warden answered.
We asked one customer what he will remember about this place. He replied, “Just the kindness and the readiness to help you.”
“At the end of a career, it's a wonderful thank you,” said Warden.
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