Business Spotlight: Beacock Music

A family legacy of music and community, the business continues to instill a love of music with people everywhere

Sue Beacock (right) first opened Beacock Music Studios with her husband Dale back in 1976. Today, their children Russ Beacock (left) and Gayle Beacock (middle) own and operate the business. Courtesy of Beacock Music

When Dale and Sue Beacock opened Beacock Music Studios in 1976, they focused on providing music lessons. Dale was a music teacher and needed a place to teach private lessons, and he outgrew their spare bedroom at home. As his student list grew, they also requested products and services, and soon, the retail side of the business was born.

When they first opened their store, they had no fixtures, so Dale and Sue used picnic tables and anything “extra” that they had in their garage to use for displays. Sue had an eye for merchandising and focused on creating a cozy environment, something that Beacock Music is still known for today. In fact, the company has won several international awards for their merchandising efforts.

Today, the Beacocks’ children Russ and Gayle own and operate the company. The company has become a staple in Clark County and has since grown to employ 75 people. As of today, the company has acquired five stores in Oregon and they now have three retail locations – Vancouver (headquarters), Eugene and Corvallis. They will also open a new store in Albany on Nov. 1.

The full-line music retail business specializes in musical instrument sales, band and orchestra rentals, a full instrument repair shop, a large music education center, and has a robust outside School Services division.

Beacock Music’s headquarters is their location in Vancouver. Courtesy of Beacock Music

Gayle Beacock credits the company’s growth to a combination of passion for music and a willingness to take some risks along the way.

“We have maintained consistent and steady growth throughout our history,” she said. “We love the ‘game’ of retail … deciding what will resonate with customers, tweaking our product offerings, adding new dimensions to our business. We always say that the board of directors are here every day, and we can pivot in an instant. If something needs to be changed, we can do that now. We have the luxury of trying new things without a vote from corporate headquarters. We have been gutsy yet careful. We have relied on our instincts and a very long history of knowing (and being) musicians.”

When the pandemic hit and schools went to remote learning, Beacock Music experienced a sharp decline in their school instrument rental business. However, they remained open with a small staff of people to help customers with what they needed to play at home. In fact, Gayle said that many people started playing music for the first time while they were at home.

“Guitars, ukuleles and recording gear were flying off our shelves,” she said. “We delivered, shipped, met them at the curb — anything we needed to do to get them (or keep them) playing.”

Gayle said that while this time was challenging, they used it to regroup. They painted, repaired, and cleaned their facilities and stocked their shelves, so when they opened at full capacity again, they were ready to go.

“We are a tighter, more finely tuned company due to the pandemic,” Gayle said. “If we learned one thing: music is so important in people’s lives. No matter what — music will always be a happy place.”

Looking at the future, Beacock Music will continue to instill a love of music with people everywhere. Russ has two kids in college right now and they are hopeful that there will be a third-generation takeover of the business at some point in the future. The company will also be hosting a conference next month at the new AC Hotel by Marriott at Terminal 1 the Vancouver Waterfront. They will welcome 14 music stores from around the country, lead a tour of the store and discuss the music industry.

A lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, Brooke Strickland is a full-time freelance writer that specializes in writing blogs, website content, and business news for companies & publications around the country. She is also the co-author of Hooked on Games, a book about technology and video game addiction.