On the Beat

Harry’s Guitar Shop is on the move

Harry’s Guitar Shop is movin’ on up, to the west side of Raleigh.

A local-music institution since 1988, Harry’s is leaving its 616 Glenwood Ave. location in downtown’s crowded Glenwood South district to relocate about three-and-a-half miles west. As of mid-September, the new address will be 556 Pylon Drive, in an office park near the fairgrounds.

Following the late-July closing of Marsh Woodwinds, Harry’s is the second major instrument store to vacate Raleigh’s core in recent months. But unlike Marsh, Harry’s will live on in expanded form. It’s long been one of Raleigh’s most important local-music hubs, for advice as well as gear.

“It’s where I go to get supplies, music stands and strings,” said Joe Newberry, a local musician. “Advice, too. Whenever I need gear for trips out of town, I always build in a little extra time because I know I’ll go by Harry’s for advice about music stuff.”

Numerous prominent musicians work and teach there, too, including stalwarts like Jon Heames (of The Whom fame) and Backsliders guitarist Steve Howell. The teaching staff and repair-shop operation will both make the move, too.

“This will be nearly twice as big as the old space,” owner Harry Tueting said. “We just couldn’t grow there. Afternoons with students and teachers, we’d have 24 cars trying to cram into a 17-space parking lot, and that does not even begin to tell the whole story.”

The crowded conditions of recent years are a marked contrast to three decades ago. Back then, seemingly everyone Tueting knew told him he was crazy to open a business in downtown Raleigh’s then-sleepy environs.

Tueting took over an old Bausch + Lomb eyeglass-grinding facility, across Glenwood from a Sizzler steakhouse (now Mellow Mushroom). Next door was a small television-repair business, now long gone; and a medical-supply company occupied the building that is now Mojoe’s Burger Joint.

But a commercial real-estate boom kicked in around the turn of the century, transforming Glenwood South into a bustling nightlife district and also hemming Harry’s in. The new location will have enough room to display a lot more guitars, and even space for the occasional live performance or workshop.

As to what becomes of Harry’s old Glenwood space, that is still to be decided. Tueting owns the property and 3,800-square-foot building (which has a total current tax value of $651,640), and is in negotiations to sell it.

“I want something to happen there that’s respectful and kind to the neighborhood,” he said. “It would be nice if it were something retail, something art. There are enough places to eat and drink in that block. Somebody will have a great idea to make something happen.”