Blue Note Guitars shutters after 26 years

After 26 years in business, guitar store Blue Note Guitars in San Luis Obispo is closing.

Co-owners Kevin McNeill and Cheryl DeLeon have owned the business since 2005, when it was purchased from Pete Morin and previously known as Blue Note Music.

The closure is partly a retirement decision for 58-year-old McNeill, he said, and partly financial.

“The economy has been no friend,” he said.

He declined to disclose profitability or specific figures, but said that both guitar lessons and retail sales have declined. The store has three employees.

When McNeill moved the store in 2006 from a small location in The Creamery in downtown San Luis Obispo to a significantly larger 2,700-square-foot location in The Village at Broad and Orcutt streets, sales doubled.

But the economic downturn has caused dwindling sales, especially in high-end items, McNeill said.

“Traditionally, we have sold lots of high-end items, but now lots of people don’t want to pull out their credit card for a $4,000 guitar.”

McNeill has adjusted inventory accordingly, and sales of entry and midlevel instruments have done “good business” recently, he said. He is hoping to liquidate all merchandise by the end of the year.