Hands Music, the last independent music instrument shop in Kingston, closed down a couple of weeks ago, which means the town centre is left without windows filled with guitars one can only dream of.
Hands Music is one of those charming local shops that the future generation will never get to experience. The staff were skilled and inspired aspiring musicians for 50 years.
The shop also had a café attached to it with a unique coffee selection. The music store announced it had to cease trading due to unforeseen circumstances, which led to rumours about rent increases and customers seeking cheaper online alternatives.
I bought my dad a small sheet music book on sale from Hands for Christmas. While I was looking, I had about six or seven books that I wanted in my hand but I decided that there were not enough songs in each to actually pay for them.
I went home and downloaded the chords from one of the various online sources and printed them out for free. I am the reason they are closing and I am really upset about it.
For years I have used Google when I want to know the chords of a song and if ever there was a book that I really wanted, I would have bought a used version from Amazon. I am a part of the problem that is causing local and independent shops to close down, one by one.
I used to treasure these types of stores in my childhood, and walking past Hands Music in Kingston brought back a lot of good memories from my local music shop. Losing Hands upsets me for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the future kids will not experience the pleasure of trying their first guitar in one of those soundproof rooms in a local music instrument shop and getting inspired when the talented assistant shows you his skills.
Secondly, Kingston’s coffee selection is shrinking, leaving Local Hero the only other independent coffee shop in the town centre. But why would we buy a more expensive version of something we can get cheap?
The circle of Internet shopping and cheap prices means local businesses struggle to keep their sales up and it becomes increasingly hard for them to stay afloat. If all residents in Kingston knew Hands Music was struggling, would anything have changed?
Would we buy the costly instruments and support them by taking an unnatural route to get coffee before work or lectures? I think not, which means we all have to take responsibility and accept that times are a changing.