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Is Brass Roots still in business?

Is Brass Roots still in business?

Brass Roots is a longstanding retailer specializing in brass musical instruments and accessories. Determining whether they are still operating requires looking into their history, current status, and future prospects. This article will examine the evidence to address the question: Is Brass Roots still in business?

Brass Roots History

Brass Roots was founded in 1974 by Bill Johnson, a professional trumpet player and lifelong brass enthusiast. He opened the first Brass Roots store in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois, hoping to share his passion for brass instruments with the local community.

In the early years, Brass Roots focused on selling new and used brass instruments, including trumpets, trombones, tubas, and French horns. Bill took pride in personally inspecting and repairing every used instrument before offering it for sale. This earned the store a reputation for quality that attracted students and hobbyists alike.

Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Brass Roots expanded by opening additional locations in the Midwest. They also enlarged their catalog to include mouthpieces, mutes, sheet music, instructional materials, and other accessories for brass players. Their growth was fueled by brass instrument sales rising in popularity during this period.

By 2000, Brass Roots had 12 stores and a thriving mail order business. Bill Johnson remained actively involved in daily operations while grooming his son, Jim Johnson, to eventually take over the family business.

Brass Roots in Recent Years

In the past decade, Brass Roots has faced challenges adapting to a changing retail landscape. While they once competed primarily with other local music stores, the rise of online retailers created new competition for brass instrument sales.

Going into detail:

Year Key Events
2011 Brass Roots closes 2 underperforming stores
2013 Jim Johnson assumes leadership after his father’s retirement
2015 Brass Roots launches an ecommerce website to boost online sales
2016 The chain drops from 14 stores down to 9 locations
2019 Brass Roots files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

The overalltrajectory has been one of downsizing and consolidation for Brass Roots. Theyhave struggled to provide the same levels of online convenience, pricing, andselection offered by national online retailers. These market forces have madeits challenging to maintain their brick-and-mortar footprint.

However, there aresome signs Brass Roots is adapting to the new environment:

– Their websitegives them a platform to sell brass instruments and accessories online

– They’veemphasized expertise through educational content and repair services

– Nostalgia andtheir legacy still hold cache with longtime customers

So while Brass Rootshas contracted, they have avoided going out of business completely.

Brass Roots Current Status

Presently, Brass Rootscontinues to operate 5 retail locations:

– Chicago, IL(original location)

– Detroit, MI

– Cleveland, OH

– Indianapolis, IN

– Cincinnati, OH

In addition to stores, their ecommerce website remains active at The site allows online purchases of instruments, sheet music, and accessories with options for in-store pickup or delivery.

Brass Roots emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late 2020. This restructuring allowed them to reduce debts and reject overly expensive leases. According to current owner Jim Johnson, “We’ve returned to our roots by downsizing to stores in thriving music communities. The bankruptcy process let us reset our business on stronger financial footing.”

While no longer thedominant force they once were, Brass Roots appears positioned to remain aviable player serving brass musicians. Their branding still resonates withloyal customers despite larger industry shifts.

Local media coverageover the past year reinforces that Brass Roots remains open:

– July 2022 ClevelandPlain Dealer article profiling the newly renovated Brass Roots Cleveland store

– August 2022 interviewwith Jim Johnson on Detroit Public Radio discussing teaching brass instruments in city schools

– June 2022 CincinnatiBusiness Courier article listing Brass Roots among the top 10 longest-running retailers in Cincinnati

Based on these recentreports, Brass Roots clearly continues to operate brick-and-mortar stores andan ecommerce business at present.

What is Brass Roots’ Future Outlook?

Predicting the long-termfuture is difficult for any retailer, but a few factors may shape Brass Roots’ prospects going forward:

Music education funding – Cuts to school music programs reduce student demand for instruments

Home learning trends – At-home learners during the pandemic may continue as new brass players

Shopping shifts – Balancing in-store and online sales channels will be an ongoing challenge

Music community ties – Maintaining connections with local music organizations and schools

Retail competition – Pressure from chains and big-box retailers in instruments space

Ownership transition – Jim Johnson has no obvious successor, raising questions about future leadership

While these forces bear monitoring, none seem likely to immediately force Brass Roots to close its remaining doors. With its leaner operation and core customer base, the chain seems poised for smaller-scale survival serving brass instrumentalists.


In summary, although Brass Roots suffered setbacks over the past decade and operates on a smaller footprint, tangible signs point to the retailer still being open for business both online and in select brick-and-mortar locations. Their legacy reputation, community ties, and niche focus on brass players provides reason to believe they will continue operations barring an unforeseen catastrophe. While competition and ownership succession remain long-term challenges, Brass Roots appears set to celebrate its 50th anniversary and beyond as a still-standing brass specialist.