Gregg Hornbuckle strings an acoustic guitar Wednesday at his business, Strings of Music, on Main Street in Tarboro.
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Telegram photo / Alan Campbell

Gregg Hornbuckle strings an acoustic guitar Wednesday at his business, Strings of Music, on Main Street in Tarboro.

Selling only a part of shop’s services

By John Henderson

Staff Writer

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Since opening a music shop in August in downtown Tarboro, Gregg and Marcia Hornbuckle’s business has tripled.

They operate Strings of Music at 420 Main St., which sells a range of electric and acoustic guitars and strings.

But they view it as much more than a store, calling it a “guitar shop for the community.”

The Hornbuckles invite people into their shop to play music. The shop offers lessons and lends instruments and equipment in some instances.

“We’re like a music shop here,” he said. “It’s a lot different than a music store. We try to gain confidence in the community. Like if a church needs a PA system, or if they are just broke and need help, we actually loan out stuff. Some kid that is having a guitar worked on, we’ll loan him one to play. If they are in a band, we loan equipment out. No one else does that.”

The Hornbuckles have faith in people’s honesty.

“We take a chance on people by loaning and expecting they are going to bring it back,” he said. “We just write them up a ticket on it. They can borrow it. People come in, they borrow guitars, amps, so we loan stuff out like that, and we trade. No one else does this.”

The decision to open a store was made after Gregg Hornbuckle stockpiled a number of guitars in his home when he was suffering from kidney failure.

Every time Hornbuckle would go to dialysis, he would come back to the house with a guitar.

He said his thought was if he died of kidney disease his wife would have a music store business to fall back on.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen to me,” he said. “I wanted my wife, who home-schools our children, to have something to do in the future. We just planned. I kept buying guitars every time I went to dialysis, and then we ended up opening the guitar shop.”

The Hornbuckles also sell their guitars nationwide on eBay.

Q: What products or services do you provide?

A: Marcia Hornbuckle: We have drums. We specialize in guitars, electric and acoustic. We have Yamaha, Fender, Carvin and Epiphone, Takamine. Guitars are our specialty.

We sell strings. That’s my husband’s specialty. He puts strings on them and repairs them. He used to work for Mosrite building guitars. He just works on guitars and puts strings on them. He gives guitar lessons.

Gregg Hornbuckle: We’ve got one young lady that teaches vocals, and we have two gentlemen that teach guitar lessons here. We do guitar repairs. We sell guitars and string guitars. It is strings and music. It is guitars, amplifiers – anything with strings. We sell amplifiers.

Q: Who are your key leaders?

A: My wife and I. My wife is the manager and the president of the company.

Q: How many people do you employ?

A: None.

Q: What is your business philosophy?

A: When we sell somebody a guitar, if they don’t like it, we buy it back for exactly what we sold it for, and no one else does that. And that is kind of the philosophy behind the business, you might say. It is the people who count more than the business. If we sell somebody a guitar they don’t like, we buy it back for the same amount of money. If someone comes in with a guitar, we trade a guitar just like you would trade a car. Sometimes we just trade a guitar for a guitar. No money involved.

We stand by our stuff. You walk out the door with it and you’re not satisfied, you bring it back a week from now, or a year from now, and we’ll buy it back from you for what you paid for it. No one else does that. It’s just a thing in our business that has helped us a lot – standing behind our products.

Q: What makes your business unique?

A: I think for the fact that we are a custom shop and everything has been hand picked, everything has been selected, everything has been worked on, restrung. Even if it’s new, we take the strings off, put new strings on them. We set them up so every guitar in here is playable. It’s not like they come out of a box.

Most of your guitar stores, they order stuff from China, different companies, and they come out of a box that hang right on the walls. We don’t do that. We actually hand select guitars nationwide. We buy guitars all across America and have them shipped in. In fact, we ship nationwide also, and so it’s kind of a unique business.

We have got people coming in. They know they can find a hard-to-find guitar here, a vintage guitar. We collect vintage guitars, banjos that are from 1926 and the 1930s and 1940s. We just have a lot of U.S.A. guitars, and in fact, we buy a lot of U.S.A. guitars from other guitar companies, music stores. If we go to a music store and they have a U.S.A. guitar, we buy that because we try to push U.S.A.

Q: How has your business grown?

A: It is going great. We sold three guitars today. We shipped one to Virginia and sold two out of the store. It is just the honestly about the business here, and I think that is what is helping our business. People know when they come in here we’re not going to overcharge them. We’re going to give them a good deal.

Q: What kind of growth do you expect in the coming years?

A: We’re thinking about opening another store in the future.