November 19, 2008

Business Beat: No swan song for Barker's Music after all

The reports of Barker's Music's death have been greatly exaggerated.

Owner Kyle Barker announced 10 months ago that the Central Valley music institution would be closing its doors forever.

But now, entering his 40th year of business, Barker has decided to ride out the rough economic times instead of shuttering.

"I was very sincere at the time," he said. "It's complicated. I've been doing this for 40 years ... What else would I do?"

Since selling off about half of its inventory and reducing its work force, Barker's has been able to tighten its belt enough to keep its Modesto and Stockton locations open.

Barker, who opened in 1969 and moved to his main McHenry Avenue location in 1979, said he has shifted the shop's focus from sales to services.

He teaches more and has added teachers at both locations. The stores offer guitar, bass, drum, violin, piano and vocal lessons.

He has a part-time office manager and a salesperson between the two shops. He also rents out his equipment to various community groups.

Hours have been shortened to 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday in Modesto and noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday in Stockton. Most sales are done by appointment.

It was around August, Barker said, when he realized he could weather the storm instead of closing.

"I can ride it out, I just have to wait a few years," he said.

Call Barker's in Modesto at 526-0347 and in Stockton at 956-0347.

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

Barker's isn't the only area shop feeling optimistic through the downturn.

Modesto antique and collectibles gift shop Remember When has increased its size tenfold since opening three years ago. The most recent expansion in September doubled its size to 5,000 square feet. The store houses more than 40 vendors of largely second-hand goods -- from vintage clothing to garden accessories, jewelry to toys.

Owner Kerri Aguiar said the economy has made people even more interested in second-hand goods.

"I just think they feel like they are getting a better deal," said the Modesto resident. "I try to make the shop affordable for everyone."

The Modesto store originally opened in a 500-square-foot spot on Scenic Drive and moved two years ago to its current location, 3102 McHenry Ave., Suites C, D and F,

next to the Fisherman's Galley. It took over another suite in September.

It will have its third annual holiday festival Saturday, inside and outside the store from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with live music, food and holiday items.

Remember When is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. Call 872-8682 ...

Aqua Lounge & Bistro is up and swimming.

The new Modesto eatery's high-profile opening last month was scuttled because of last-minute conflicts. But the restaurant at the site of the old sushi spot and club Aqua Shi opened last week with a new menu and look.

Entrées range from grilled barbecued chicken ($17) to coriander crusted ahi ($22) and bacon-wrapped petit filet ($26).

Aqua, 910 12th St., is open for dinner 6 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 5 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday. An assortment of sushi rolls and sandwiches are also available. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/aquamodesto.

Have an item for Business Beat? Contact Marijke Rowland at The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352; 578-2284 or mrowland@modbee.com.

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