BEST MUSIC STORE - 2003
When MARS (Music And Recording Store), the chain of music "superstores" founded by the former CEO of Home Depot, spun out of orbit and into the dark sun of bankruptcy last year, it took with it some of the fears of the folks staffing this family-owned company. After all, their employment depends on offering customers "a little more fine-tuned attention than you'd get at a Home Depot," says Alan Hager, one of the helpful employees at Groth, with a wry smile. As you wander from one sprawling specialized section of this 21,000-square-foot store to another, you're politely asked by staffers in each if you have questions or need help. If you don't need assistance, they let you be. If you do, they've got the expertise to answer just about any query, no matter how technical, and the interest and patience to explain the basics to newbies (most of the employees are musicians; many have worked the floor for years). In addition to the usual rock-related gear, Groth has a small-planet-sized selection of ethnic musical instruments, including dozens of djembes as well as drumlogs, congas, cuicas, tablas, goatskin doumbeks, bagpipes, Nigerian waste rattles, and much more. They even have the proverbial jawbone of the ass at Groth. These bleached jawbones from Peru (complete with big ol' teeth) would add a nicely spooky, clacking layer of percussion to a wake for another chain of superstores. Wal-Mart, anyone?