NEW BERLIN — Cascio Interstate Music, a longtime favorite music retailer that also offers music lessons, has reopened to the public since the pandemic forced them to close in March.
Store Manager Craig Johansen said the closure came at a difficult time, since they first announced in February that they were filing for receivership.
An upcoming motion hearing is scheduled for July 16.
Johansen said they are interested in moving to 76th and Layton Street in Greenfield, although it is not yet official. If things pan out, Johansen said, he thinks they could change locations and reopen by September; however, the future is uncertain.
The current building in New Berlin is 33,000 square feet and the prospective building is about 8,000 square feet.
“I think the space (in New Berlin) is a little big for music retail,” he said. “I think the location’s a little tough too, because there was a bit more of a retail component in this area than there is now.”
The history of the building makes the prospect of moving bittersweet.
The business first started in 1946 and the New Berlin location opened in the 70s.
The store is a popular place for local musicians — Johansen himself said before he worked for Cascio Music, he would travel to the location in New Berlin even though he didn’t live close to the store.
“I was actually talking with Mike Cascio, (son of) Frank Cascio ... and he said he was born on the second floor,” Johansen said. “Like, he was literally born in this building, and hearing that, I’m like ‘Wow, I can’t imagine what that’s like.’” Johansen said a lot of the music teachers have worked in the building for over 20 years.
The store reopened for retail June 24 and is now open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Because of COVID-19, the store is currently not offering in-person music classes. They are instead held virtually.
“I think we’re holding off to see what the schools decide,” Johansen said. “It’s such an intimate thing to have the lessons.”
The retail portion of the store is open with sanitizer and gloves available to test-play the instruments. Brass or woodwind instruments are not available for this.
Because of the receivership, the business is working to sell the large amount of inventory they already have, Johansen said.
He said distributors had to shut down for awhile, but they are starting to pick back up.
The impact on the store from the pandemic resulted in a rush of customers before the closure, as customers wanted to be prepared during the pandemic. Johansen said some staff worked on inventory and later shipping while the retail portion was closed. Then they worked to prepare for reopening.
Johansen said the store is missing out on increased sales from canceled summer music festivals like Summerfest.
“On the flip side, music was kind of the perfect thing to do while everybody was home,” Johansen said. “Music’s been the perfect thing to occupy people during the quarantine ... I play in a band too and we tried to do some virtual things. We wrote songs together and we passed songs back and forth online.”
Giovanni Gripp was at Cascio Music on Thursday shopping for sheet music.
Gripp plays percussion and piano and has been taking virtual instructions.
He said it was nice to get music that he had wished he had before the quarantine instead of only having YouTube tutorials to work from.
“Whenever I need something to do and I’m trying to get my head around all this, I just play anything that I can play or try something out new that I can maybe master by the time the world opens up again,” he said.