Nominations Now Open for the 2018 Dealers' Choice Awards: VOTE NOW!

Village Music Wellington Redefines What it Means to be an MI Store

by Victoria Wasylak • in
  • Features
  • January 2018
• Created: January 29, 2018

Share This:

Ah, the joys of visiting your favorite music store. Parsing through any new clearance items, ogling at the guitars hanging on the walls with pride, and… visiting the in-house café?

Building on the current trend of adding performance spaces to MI stores, Village Music Wellington has created one heck of a hub for musicians, featuring a stage and adjacent café, spaces for workshops, and bustling repair area, all in about 4000 square feet.

Combined in one facility at 10410 Forest Hill Boulevard in Florida, Village Music is taking what it means to be a music center to the next level (and the level after that).

“More than a store, we see ourselves as a community music center,” says Donna Willey, co-owner of the shop. “The concept of offering a full-service retail store as well as a dynamic lesson program, a dedicated repair shop, a performance stage and a live-music venue is what differentiates us. We believe that the presence of our center, in a very prominent location, will intrigue and inspire people who may never before have had a connection to music to come in and explore. We want people, whether involved in music or not, to hang out here, be motivated and experience the power of music.”

The origins of the new music center are rooted in 2014, two years after they had opened their first store in Wellington. After quickly outgrowing the initial 1800 square foot space, the Village Music team realized they needed more lesson rooms and more space for an expanded concept.

In 2015, Village Music started to look for a new location for their dream store, finally selecting a spot in the Wellington Mall. The owners of the building had initially wanted to rent to national chain, but after witnessing the positive effect that the store was having on the community, they changed their minds. From there, Village Music moved forward with their blueprint for a new kind of music store experience. The store celebrated its grand opening on December 2 and 3 with live music, tours of the facilities, product demonstrations, tastings at the new café, and opportunities to meet their staff and instructors.

“We began creating the concept when we realized that there was a huge demand for activities like after-school music camps, ensembles, Mommy & Me classes, etc., – which we did not have adequate space to provide,” Willey adds. “We started to build the unit out in June of this year and moved in on October 1st. Now we’re able to offer all of those services and more – rock camps, chorus and ukulele workshops are already in progress!”

As an extra boost of encouragement, Village Music provides the ukuleles at the uke workshops so that total beginners can come in and feel comfortable experimenting without the burden having to buy an instrument.

“We’ve already started running weekly ukulele workshops, string ensembles and after-school rock camps. After Christmas, we’ll start running Mommy & Me (early musical education) classes, Adult Rock Camp and Drum Master Classes,” she adds. “We are also in the process of organizing some vendor-sponsored artist visits which will be added to the roster early next year. Also, we run weekly Student Showcases on Sunday afternoons and Jazz Breakfast on Saturdays, with students providing the music.”

Workshops and lessons are only a fraction of whole package, however; a major chunk of the store also brings musicians and visitors together in the performance and café area. Ukuleles and Native American flutes strewn on the café tables provide an interactive aspect to the space, inviting people who may have never touched an instrument in their lives to experiment with music in an unintimidating atmosphere.

Between offering open mic nights and a family-friendly space for guests to kick back and enjoy some chow and a performance from a local musician, this part of Village Music has been booming.

“We’re already seeing that the use of the stage is going beyond its original intention, which was as a space for the students to perform on a regular basis, which we believe makes their lessons more meaningful,” Willey adds. “In the meantime, we’ve had all sorts of talented individuals from the community coming and asking to perform here, to which we say ‘Yes!’ We’re so happy that the café is becoming a gathering place for musicians, and people interested in listening to live music. We’ve started doing open mic nights on Thursdays and have professional live music performances every Friday evening. For one hour before the Friday evening shows, all students and kids from the community are invited to share the stage for an hour as the ‘opening act’ in an open-mic type setting.”

Willey said that the idea for a stage in the center spouted from recognizing the demand for performance spaces in the western Palm Beach communities, one that they were happy to provide.

“We wanted to have the space for a stage to give the students the opportunity to perform on a regular basis, together with other students. And, we heard out of the community that there was a need for a more family-oriented, intimate live music venue. So, we decided to try to fulfill all those needs and design a casual coffee-house type venue with a stage, which would facilitate both the students and the community.”

The coffee house portion of the store, however, was born from the desire to give multitudes of parents a place to relax and grab a snack while their children are in music lessons. Needless to say, the concept has bloomed far beyond what the Village Music team had had in mind.

“The addition of the café was initially motivated by the multitude of parents that hang out in our store!” Willey explains. “We have 350 students, and most of them come in with one or both parents. Our original thought was to provide a place for them to relax and enjoy the time while they’re waiting. We serve gourmet coffees, flat breads paninis, pastries and salads in the afternoons. Once it became obvious that this was also becoming a local hangout and an evening venue, we added the wine, beer and charcuterie boards, which have become very popular. The parents who bring their kids in for evening lessons also tend to relax with a glass of wine or beer while they’re waiting.”

The store’s recent grand opening showcase went so well that Village Music aims to host more of them after the holiday season, starting a new Saturday block party tradition.

“The grand opening was epic! We had a line-up of live music from 2:00 through 11:00 p.m. and a full house the whole time,” Willey notes. “Along with local bands, we had students and teachers performing. It was a beautiful showcase of professional and budding talent. In fact, the turnout was so massive and the reception from the community so positive, that we decided to replicate it on a regular basis! We’re planning Saturday afternoon Village Music Block Parties to start after the holidays. They will provide a venue where the community can come together to enjoy some great music and enjoy each other.”

Put together, the complex is the whole package, save for maybe save for an arena or an orchestra pit. All the layers of Village Music are a piece of the puzzle to what it takes to making a comprehensive and all-encompassing music center.

“We’ll do whatever it takes to encourage, enthuse and spread the joy of music, because we understand the power of music to change lives,” Willey says.

Share This:

Leave a Comment:

Check Out Some Past MMR Magazine Issues