Tuesday, 12 December 2017

A History of Phinneys Music Store

Phinneys — The Maritimes’ leading music store

What began in the Annapolis Valley’s Lawrencetown as a small organ store in 1877 is today one of Canada's leading music businesses and the most flourishing in the Maritimes. It is Phinneys Company Ltd., of Barrington Street, a company which for the best part of a century has enjoyed a reputation second to none in the music business of Nova Scotia in particular and Eastern Canada in general.

The founder, Horton Phinney, moved the business from Lawrencetown in 1912, since then it has expanded steadily over the years. The company began in Halifax in downtown Granville Street. Then Mr. Phinney employed one salesman — John P Sullivan. The company still specialised then in organs as it had at Lawrencetown. But when it moved onto the main shopping thoroughfare of Barrington Street, its specialization was divided, with other musical instruments being included in its stock. Within two years of opening in Halifax, Phinneys bought the Halifax Plano and Organ Company.
Increased business forced the company to move once again, this time only two doors away to its present premises. Today there is a staff of 24, working on the premises’ four floors.

In the 1920’s Phinneys bought the first Marconi radio set made in Canada. And in the early days of broadcasting Radio Station CHNS had its first studio in the Phinney building.
Today the company has the biggest collection of records in eastern Canada. From classics to pop music, and all the in-betweens of music, are available on the first floor of the store.
Also on the first floor are TV and radio sets, electrical appliances and sheet music. On the second are sporting goods — a department managed by “Mr. Sporting Goods” of the Maritimes, Harry Edwards, a well known athlete in former years. He made his mark in hockey and football circles and, when it was popular in Nova Scotia, with rugby.
The piano and organ department is also on the second floor. Here the best known makes of these classical instruments can be found.

The third floor has reconditioned pianos and offices and the fourth houses the service department of the company.
In the last five or six years pianos and organs have regained some of their lost popularity — popularity lost in the late 30s and during the Second World War and for a few years after it. That popularity is increasing.
As a spokesman for the company said, radio and television have done a lot to encourage more and more people to play their own instruments. Not only that, the modern teaching methods make piano or organ playing today much easier than years ago.
Another reason, one which is always important, is money. It is unusual in a world where the cost of living does little else but rise that organ prices have dropped and any increase in the prices of pianos has been modest.

History of Phinneys Music Store in Mail-Star, March 1, 1962 page 13 (microfilm 7516)
Original sourced by Philip L. Harting – Archives of Nova Scotia

Digitized by Doug Frizzle, December 2017.

1 comment:

PooPooFinder said...

Good digging Doug. Very interesting background on one of Nova Scotia’s exceptional retail family and entrepreneurs!

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