The Piano Man Superstore on Route 1, about a five minute drive from the University of Maryland, will close its doors for good on May 3 because of a lack of sales and permit troubles, according to the store owner.
In 2012, Nick Margaritas purchased what was then Jordan Kitt’s Music store, transforming it into a piano liquidation center. In May 2015, Margaritas decided to reopen the liquidation center as a “used piano superstore.”
When he opened the piano superstore last May, county officials told Margaritas he had to re-obtain both occupancy and sign permits because the business was technically a new one, he said.
He said he wasn’t allowed to operate the business until October when he received the occupancy permit, but it wasn’t until January that he obtained the sign permit, which allowed him to advertise the store.
“That period absolutely killed me,” he said. “I would say it was virtually not open because we couldn’t advertise. We couldn’t have a Piano Man. We couldn’t have any type of sign out front.”
The store “looked like an abandoned building,” and Margaritas’ inability to overcome the loss informed his decision to close the store. Piano stores typically do best in more affluent, suburban areas like Rockville, he said.
Margaritas will continue to operate his original piano store, The Piano Man, which opened in Catonsville in 1974.
“The truth is most of my business does not come from College Park,” he said. “The ideal profile for a piano buyer is parents between 35 and 55 with children under 10.”
He added that college students don’t often buy pianos.
Michael Angelucci, a piano performance doctoral student at this university, said he bought his Boston grand piano from the store in 2012.
“I’ve had no problems with this piano,” Angelucci said. “I got very lucky. I felt very fortunate to have, you know, kind of stumbled upon this instrument.”
Fewer people buy pianos for entertainment than they did 40 or 50 years ago, he said. He noted pianists will miss out on educational opportunities once the store closes for good.
“They have a lot of really interesting instruments there — brands that I think a lot of serious pianists, including myself, may not be all that familiar with,” he said.
Matthew Dohm, a senior music education student at this university, suggested to the parents of his five-year-old student that they go to the Piano Man Superstore, as he has driven past it often and notices frequent sales.
“It [was] kind of a constant, ‘We’re on sale,’ ‘Now we’re really on sale,'” Dohm said about the store’s 60-day closing sale. “I told them, ‘If your budget is $5,000 … you could go to the store at the end of the month and get a $15,000 piano for $5,000. That’s a hell of a deal.'”
As for the less than 200 pianos left in the store, Margaritas said he and his staff will prepare any sold pianos for delivery. The rest will be sold at outside benefits sales, like the one he will be hosting at Anne Arundel Community College May 13 through May 16.
This will be Margaritas’ first outside sale after the store’s closing, he said.