The Music Box Keeps Things Small
Owner and operator Tim Bowditch shares the story that made the store what it is today.
Even when he was a small child, Timothy Bowditch had an affinity for music. He started with the piano at age six, and steadily moved on from there. Bowditch is now the owner and operator of The Music Box, a local music shop in Wrentham.
Originally from Foxboro, Bowditch was first introduced to music by his father. He had always been around music as a child, and by sixth grade realized that it was what he wanted to do professionally. He picked up some other instruments along the way, like the clarinet and trumpet, but apparently fate had some other plans as to his calling — Bowditch is now a guitarist and guitar teacher, but not by his own choice. It began with the first non-school band he started with some friends in eighth grade, which they called Void.
"We all sat around and picked instruments out of a hat," he said. "I actually just picked guitar. A buddy of mine picked bass, and now I'm a guitar teacher and [the bass player] to this day is a bass teacher. We were a god-awful band, but hey, that was in eighth grade."
He and the bass player later went on to start an '80s hair metal band called Backstage Pass in 2002, and still they remain friends today. Bowditch said '80s metal is still his favorite genre of music, and still reveres the band Van Halen with devotion.
Bowditch started teaching guitar and trumpet during college at the Foxboro high school in 1996. He studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and his skills as a teacher helped pay for his own schooling. From Foxboro, he started branching out to other high schools, including King Philip Regional High School, and worked as a teacher six days a week. This turned out to be a significant step in making the connections that cemented the Music Box into Wrentham.
Bowditch's first foray into the music shop industry was in Mansfield, where he and a few friends opened up the Mocking Bird Music store. The store opened in September 2001, and is still in operation today. He said, while the shop was becoming successful, he and his partners had different ideas about direction the store was taking.
"You know that little saying about never open[ing] a business with your friends?" he said. "That's very true. They were kind of going from a small mom and pop type of vibe to a megaplex-type thing."
While Bowditch did express his dissatisfaction with the direction of the store, his partners were all in favor of turning the shop into a Guitar Center-like superstore. He said it was in 2005 that he really started to put in motion his plans for the Music Box.
He said the first place he looked to open a new shop was in Wrentham, mainly because he had connections with the KP music department. His experience with teaching there opened up opportunities that would be vital to the Music Box's existence. Because Bowditch taught trumpet after school at KP, he formed a relationship with music director Peter Tileston. Tileston told him that the towns of Norfolk and Plainville needed a music teacher for beginning band, and Bowditch took both positions.
"So I knew the teachers in a lot of the towns," he said. "I also knew that these teachers were not overly happy with the company they were using for their [instrument] rentals."
He said that this helped him to open the Music Box with the knowledge that he could not only teach new students and sell instruments out of the store, but also make steady income by facilitating the rental process to schools in the area better than the service they were using at the time. He still rents instruments to local schools through a subcontractor called K & C Music, which provides instruments to hundreds of schools in New England.
"That was huge in surviving the beginning of the business," he said. "It was very helpful having the schools."
The Music Box officially opened in Aug. of 2006 and, as Bowditch was finding teachers and students, the beginning of the school year brought steady rental income to the store. Since then, he has kept the business small and strong. He said he wanted to keep things small not only to preserve the personal atmosphere of the store, but also because he does not believe music should be dealt with in the same business model as selling stocks or cars.
"I worked over at Daddy's Junky Music in Dedham, and it wasn't as bad as Guitar Center, but [it had] a similar kind of corporate style of business," he said. "You have to deal with commissions and other salesmen fighting with you, it was like working in a car dealership. Music is something that doesn't lend itself to that style of business. It's something you love and cherish; it's not something you sell like a commodity."
The Music Box's website can be found here.