“He just kept expanding his roster of students and he started bringing in some accessories he needed to showcase,” Hauer said. “He took over one of the showcases that was in the store and, and sooner or later, he was kind of taking over the store. The owner asked him, “Hey, do you want to purchase the store?’ and that’s how it started.”
Moving the business from 34 East First St. to Patterson Boulevard in 1989, Hauer’s father, Jerry, transformed it into “a major store and a musical wonderland” by gradually expanding the amount of teaching lessons and musical instruments. He also opened a satellite location in Kettering in 1958, which closed in 1993.
Jim Hauer and his brother Bill are Hauer Music’s third generation and Jim’s children, Eric and Ashley, are its fourth. Eric is a store manager who takes care of inventory, purchasing and guitar and piano keyboard sales. Ashley, the store’s “Swiss Army knife,” handles everything from being a cashier and all online transactions to taking care of inventory control and school billing for rental instruments.
“We do a massive school rental program, renting instruments to individuals who are just starting out, whether it’s fifth, sixth or seventh grade, to get their feet wet,” Hauer said. “We rent hundreds of instruments every year.”
Hauer Music features a diverse array of instruments, from guitars, drums, keyboards and pianos to flutes, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets and much more. The store also sells and installs PA systems at schools and churches and teaches close to 400 students per week.
The business also feature a “major service shop,” one that is estimated to do thousands of repairs between four employees. Clients have included famous trumpeters Wynton Marsalis, Clark Terry and Tonight Show bandleader Doc Severinsen, among others.
Stopping by to give clinics over the years have been drumming legends Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, the Tonight Show’s Ed Shaughnessy and Tommy Aldridge, who played with Whitesnake. Their signatures, and about 70 more, adorn drum heads on display in the store.
Guitarist Joe Bonamassa, 45, gave his first clinic for the store when he was 15.
“His dad drove him down here from Utica, New York,” Hauer said. “I think we were one of the first clinics that he actually did for Fender. They knew he was kind of a hotshot kid because they found out he had already played with B.B. King when he was 12 years old.”
Hauer attributes the store’s longevity to the longevity of its sales force.
“With having that longevity of people who know their product, we have smart individuals that know the history,” he said. “I can name you a dozen stores in the Dayton area that have come and gone, but most of them had high turnover and so when they got a new person in, they came in with very limited knowledge.”
Of the store’s 16 full-time employees, about seven have been on board for more than 20 years each, not counting the teachers because the teachers are independent contractors, Hauer said.
The store is “definitely proud” of making it to 85 years and even more proud there is a fourth generation still involved in its day-to-day operations, he said.
“I’m looking forward to (the store reaching) 100 years, you know?” Hauer said. “To me, that would be the cool milestone for Hauer Music, but also a milestone for the Dayton area.”