May 13, 2024 I Closure

Watermelon Music Announces Closure

Photo courtesy of the store's GoFundMe.

Watermelon Music in Davis, California, has announced it’s closing its doors after providing for its community musicians and educators for decades. The full-line retailer operated for some 28 years and offered a diverse inventory of musical instruments and accessories, as well as music lessons, instrument repairs and rentals.

Owner Jeff Simmons reflected on the impact Watermelon Music had on its community, as the support had been vital in sustaining the store through various financial challenges. Most recently, supporters raised more than $100,000 on GoFundMe to keep the store open.

“The Davis community has always put a high value on arts and music, both in public and private schools and spaces,” Simmons said. “One of the biggest factors enabling us to continue for so long is the community. About one year ago, I let people know about our struggle and debt and the community raised $104,000 in just 10 days. This allowed me to retire the debt we had accrued since 2020, and I really believed that we would be able to continue for another decade or more.”

For Simmons, Watermelon Music has been more than just a business venture; it has been a labor of love, a testament to his dedication to music and community. Despite the gratitude for the community’s support, the decision to close Watermelon Music was a difficult one.

“I follow income and expenses every month,” Simmons said. “Since the GoFundMe, expenses have been climbing while income has remained more or less flat. If I had confidence that expenses could be lowered or that income could substantially increase by making some changes, I would have made a different decision, but I don’t see either as realistic. I would prefer to go out on good terms with vendors, staff and the community, rather than be ground down and forced into some kind of bankruptcy or forced closure.”

Simmons’ vision was always bigger than mere commerce. He envisioned a space where musicians of all ages and abilities could come together to learn, create and connect.

“I have always wanted my store to be much more than a place to buy things,” Simmons said. “Lessons, rentals, donations, a performance/recital hall, and repairs all go hand-in-hand with merchandise for sale. More than anything, we wanted to create a real community for musicians of all ages and abilities — and I believe that we succeeded for nearly 30 years. I hope that there are some intrepid individuals or groups that will see an opportunity here and keep a music community alive. I hope that it’s still possible for a community-minded independent business to be viable, but these last few years have made me doubt it. Business today seems all about cutting employees, increasing shareholder profits and quarterly returns, rather than about building trust and working with the local community.”

No final closing date has been announced, but plans to shut down once the building is sold are in the works.

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