Foster Family Music Center Closes

Foster Family Music Center will be closing its doors on Dec. 20 after 30 years in business. The Bettendorf, Iowa-based store houses one of the largest selections of pianos and sheet music in the state of Iowa and was named a NAMM Top 100 Dealer in 2012 and 2013.

Foster Family Music Center founders Jim and Marilyn Foster, along with their daughter and co-owner Christi Foster Nunnally, said they were unable to find a buyer for the niche business. Beginning the week of November 10, the store will offer discounts of 30 to 60 percent to sell off its inventory of acoustic and digital pianos. The collection includes 30 new and used grand pianos including Yamaha, and many used Steinway family instruments.

The Foster family created and supported a number of musical events that became Quad City-area talent competition and performance staples. In a statement, the family said the store's closing is bittersweet. After 44 years in the music retail business, Jim and Marilyn will be retiring to a farm in Jackson County Iowa.

"Retiring the business was a difficult decision for me, too," said Christi Foster Nunnally "My husband and I have resolved that we want to raise our family without the pressing demands of running a business."

Jim Foster says he's seen a lot of change in the industry through the years: "I got my start with a Cedar Rapids music store in the 1970s. At that time, the industry was selling more than 250,000 pianos a year. Today, that number is less than 35,000 for an acoustic piano. Through the years, our partnerships within the Quad Cities music community have kept Foster Family Music healthy and vibrant. We lament the fact that we've been unable to find a successor. We're closing only because of our new family priorities."

"We opened this store 30 years ago during an economic recession," he continued. "We had 10 competitors in the Quad Cities. Of those competitors, we were the last piano specialty store remaining. The industry may be changing, but there will always be a community dedicated to the piano. There is good evidence that piano students enjoy success in school, have more confidence, and go on to achieve as adults. And all those competitions and concerts we sponsored were important in encouraging students to continue to study and perform."