Dennis Runyan's Musical Odyssey
From Depot Town drum studio to expansive Saline storefront
by Billie Ochberg
From the June, 2018 issue
"Hi! We're open. Come on in," said Dennis Runyan on a sunny Friday afternoon at the end of April. He stood behind the sales counter of his newly opened music store while his business partner and co-owner, Sean Robinson, polished and retuned recently unpacked guitars.
Dennis's Music may be new to Saline, but it's been selling new and used items and providing instrument repair and music lessons in Washtenaw County for years.
"When I first started, it was just a little drum studio in Depot Town. Over time, we morphed into a store, and then we moved to Whittaker Rd. in 2004," says Runyan, who recently turned sixty.
"That's when I first came on board," says Robinson. "I used to help with repairs and admin stuff, and then in 2009 I bought out Dennis's previous business partner." Robinson still calls himself the tech guy. He does most of the guitar and light electronic instrument repairs.
When their Ypsilanti lease came up earlier this year, the two decided it was time for a change. They found a 2000-square-foot location on E. Michigan Ave. formerly occupied by Total Sports Shop.
"Folks are finding us, old customers and new ones, and so far, nobody's mad about the move. It's all good," says Robinson, tall and lean, wearing a knitted hat. He's forty but looks much younger. Eager to share his favorite things about their new spot, Robinson is quick to point out that there was nothing wrong with the old location.
"This space just makes more sense for us. We used to be sandwiched between two salons. We've got a lot more room here, and it's a better value, a better layout. I have two repair stations now, and Dennis has more room to breathe," says Robinson. Runyan does the drum kit repairs.
"We've got great neighbors, too," says Runyan, pointing towards the picture windows and the parking lot, "Pizza, the brewery, a dance studio, and I can't wait to see
what food trucks roll in later today," he says, referring to the trucks that Stony Lake Brewing Co. owners Jerry and Heidi Tubbs book four nights a week (the Cosa Sabrosa food truck arrived later that night).
Dennis's Music sells drums, guitars, keyboards, amps, cymbals, and brass and woodwind instruments, plus all the wearables and accessories. "That's the straps, strings, cables, sticks, reeds, music, picks, parts, and stands," rattles off Robinson as he adjusts the neck on a guitar.
Another perk? "We've got a much nicer studio in the back for our instructors. Parents won't have to sit on the floor while their kids have a lesson. We've got a lounge area now," says Robinson.
Dennis's Music, 435 E. Michigan Ave., Saline. (734) 217-0547. Mon. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Wed.-Fri. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m. Closed Tues.
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