Players of fretted instruments throughout Somerset County have had no need to fret since 2008—because that’s when Guitar Hut opened in Martinsville.
Since then, local guitarists have been taking their instruments in for tune-ups, repairs and, of course, lessons.
In fact, lessons are how Guitar Hut owner Evan Simons first got into business. A musician and guitar teacher by trade, Simons got the idea to learn about guitar repairs after a large number of his students expressed a need.
“My students starting having these problems with their instruments,” he said. “After a while, I started thinking that if I could fix guitars I could open up another door for myself.”
Since then, Simons has never looked back. The building where Simons originally taught lessons, located at 1954 Washington Valley Road, was converted into a shop, and the business has continued to grow.
“I teach about 20 students every month and the word has spread,” he said. “We do guitar repair for the whole community around Martinsville and it’s going really well.”
Guitar Hut also specializes in sales, selling any fretted instrument from guitars to basses to mandolins. Additionally, the shop goes beyond instrument sales, selling items like effect pedals and amplifiers.
Having his shop in a small-town atmosphere like Martinsville has been beneficial both to Simons and to Guitar Hut. Many of the businesses along Washington Valley Road interact with one another on a daily basis.
“It’s a small town, word gets around quick and we all know each other," he said. "I go to the same places to eat, we get a rapport going and we talk about each other to other customers. I’ve gotten a lot of referrals from everywhere, from the place where I get my hair cut to the place I eat lunch. Everybody knows everybody, and it’s really awesome."
It can’t be like that in a bigger city," he added. "You forget who you meet [in a large city].”
In the end, the people who Simons has met during his years owning and operating Guitar Hut have been the reason the business is so successful. This experience has afforded Simons the opportunity to learn something new every day.
“It’s been really amazing," he said. "This is my first stab at doing something like this. Even with the economy being so bad, I’ve met so many great people and I’m just learning every single day, which is probably the best part."
“It’s been three full years, and it still seems like it’s brand-new," he added. "I’m not tired of this at all. I want to keep going and expand, get bigger, get better and just keep servicing. We’re here to help the community, so it’s a really great opportunity that I was given here.”