After a hard quarantine, Canfield’s Music Gallery is back

Josh Farley, Irene Dong, Grace Min, and Amy Zarbaugh

Canfield is known far and wide in Ohio for its top-quality music program. The Music Gallery, which has been open on Lisbon Street for 33 years, has played a big role in that success for many of Canfield’s best music students. However, with the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Music Gallery has gone through many changes in the last year. Luckily, the Music Gallery has stood strong, and is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Last March, Rick Barber, who co-owns the shop with his brother, Dan, knew just as much about the new global pandemic as the rest of us. Like everyone else, Barber expected a two-week vacation, and then a return for normalcy just in time for the spring concert season last year. However, as the pandemic and shutdown grew longer and longer, Mr. Barber feared for his business.

“Financially, we were at Ground Zero,” said Barber, reminiscing on the trouble that has faced his business for the last nine months.

To make matters worse, the Barbers were unable to secure a loan from the Federal government last year.

When it became clear that COVID-19 was not going away at all in 2020, Mr. Barber said he “… locked [his] door. There was zero money coming in for nine months.”

Surmounting the incredible odds of survival in the pandemic seemed challenging at first, but the small number of staffers who run the Music Gallery ultimately kept costs down enough to ensure the shop was able to make it to 2021.

Now that the Music Gallery has its sights set on a post-pandemic world, the Barbers are cautiously optimistic. The same problems as last year are still facing the store: trying to keep up with online stores like Amazon is quite the tall order for any small business owner. And with many performances still cancelled, overall demand for instruments has been down.

“Rentals down, sales down, without any of the competitions…” Barber said.

The Music Gallery has always been reliant on schools to keep them afloat. Luckily, many of these schools are reopening, allowing for the Music Gallery to begin its recovery. Sales and foot traffic have started to increase, since some private lesson teachers have returned to the Music Gallery, and things have definitely improved as the COVID-19 Pandemic starts to decline.

Lately things have been “a bit more like old times,” and the Barbers are looking forward to the full return of concerts, recitals, and festivals as places for musicians to perform.

With many public health experts predicting the Pandemic may see its end by the start of next school year, many in the music industry are anticipating a strong return to form before the end of the year. Hopefully, these performances will keep the Music Gallery going strong for many more years to come.