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Forbes Piano to Shut Doors

Forbes Piano in Birmingham, Ala., will be going out of business at the conclusion of its liquidation sale, which went into effect on June 2.

“From Forbes family members who have been involved in providing pianos for more than a century, to our dedicated, professional staff, to the family of customers we have been proud to serve, Forbes Piano has been all about family,” said French Forbes III, the company’s vice president and general manager. “We have been honored to serve people in the Birmingham area and will find it very difficult not to serve them on a daily basis going forward.”

Founded in 1889 by E.E. Forbes, the company has been Birmingham’s exclusive Steinway piano dealer for nearly a half century. It has also been the area’s exclusive Yamaha piano and keyboard dealer.

During its long history, Forbes Piano has provided pianos to notables, such as Nat King Cole, Billy Joel, George Winston and Vladimir Horowitz. It also has been involved in the local arts community, working closely with The Alabama Symphony Orchestra, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham Southern College, Samford University and Montevallo University.

According to an article in The Birmingham News, staff writer Micheal Tomberlin indicated that the economic decline was not a factor in Forbes’ decision. French Forbes said it had more to do with cultural changes and less music education for young people.

“If you went back to shipments in 2001 in the piano industry, in general, compared to what it is now, it’s been a downsizing industry,” Forbes said in the article. “Our biggest competition has been sports and computers that have taken the place of music among children. It’s not like an Asian country where everybody learns to play some musical instrument. We don’t have that culture anymore.”

Forbes will continue to operate Allen Organs, a side business that sells and services organs to churches and other institutional customers.