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Sherman Clay to Close Last Location

Longtime piano dealer Sherman Clay will close the last of its retail outlets. The downtown Seattle location of the chain is slated to shutter in September.

“There’s a tendency to lean toward viewing this as a collapse, as a sign of economic troubles, and actually Sherman Clay was very profitable,” said Tom Austin, president of the company’s retail division, who started with Sherman Clay 40 years ago as a sales trainee. “This was really a generational evolution. When the sons of Herman Schwartz got to the point where they saw their retirement within sight, they decided to close down the retail.”

Founded in San Francisco by Leander Sherman in 1870 and owned by the Schwartz family since 1960, Sherman Clay has long been recognized as one of America’s leading piano retailers. Earlier this year, the company’s Bay Area locations were acquired by Steinway & Sons. The Portland, Ore., area stores closed last winter. Austin said that the company had owned the Seattle location’s building since 1926, but sold it about a year-and-a-half ago. At press time, there was no word on Steinway’s plans in the Seattle market.

“We’ve been through world wars. Earthquakes. The Depression,” Austin said. “We were authorized to sell Steinway in 1892. It’s a sad day. But you put your arms around it and move on.”