Iconic downtown piano store to be replaced by chicken wing franchise

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Piano2_ChuckWolfeSEATTLE — Sherman Clay, an iconic piano company and a fixture in downtown Seattle on Fourth Avenue since the late 1800’s, is going out of business. And while it’s been an institution for 142 years, the store’s owners said they want to get out of the piano business and focus on other interests.

Store manager Ben Klinger has been surprised by the outpouring of support.

“I had a lady call yesterday, as a matter of fact, and she says, ‘I don’t even play the piano, but Sherman Clay is just a part of Seattle. I just don’t know what’s happening to my Seattle,’ and she started crying,” Klinger said.

There was a time when a piano in the living room was as common as the couch. It’s played an important role in shaping our social culture and Sherman Clay has been there every step of the way, from delivery by horse drawn carriage to hosting the Beatles.

“In 1964 when the Beatles came for their last performance in Seattle, Sherman Clay had an arrangement with them where we would host their rehearsal before their concert  So the city shut down Fourth Avenue, they arrived in a limo, and then practiced on the second floor,” Klinger said. And, of course, the girls were there, he said. “There were ladies outside banging on the doors to get in.”

Things are a little less hectic at Sherman Clay today. You might hear a tuner hard at work in the store, but even that music will fade.

The store that’s been a slice of Seattle history will shut its doors Sept. 30, but before then more than 200 pianos have to find a home.

A chicken wing franchise is slated to take over the space — how’s that for progress?

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