Local business bringing music, memories
Clark: ‘We are going after people first, not profit’
A Nashville native is bringing a sought-after opportunity to Barry County.
Banjo Ben’s General Store in Exeter opens Wednesday with a soft local opening, and plans for a larger grand opening are taking shape for this fall.
Owner Ben Clark has been operating an online business for years, and for the last two-and-a-half years, he and his store manager, Jake Stogdill, have been also working out of a metal building on Washburn.
“We were out-growing that building, so we decided to look for a storefront location,” Clark said. “The remodel is complete, and we are ready to open our doors.”
Banjo Ben’s General Store is the go-to place for music supplies, however, they specialize in bluegrass and acoustic genres.
“I have been an online music educator for 10 years,” Clark said. “I operate one off the largest online instructional websites in the world banjobenclark.com.
“The store grew out of a need and a desire to supply students with the instruction and supplies they are looking for. It is important in this day and age of online ordering to trust the folks you are purchasing from.”
Clark said he and his employees focus on building a relationship with their customers.
“The customers are our first priority,” he said. “We treat them like family. I have been successful in that, and now, we are expanding and opening The Banjo Ben’s General Store.”
Banjo Ben’s General Store offers banjos, acoustic guitars, mandolins and all the supplies that go with them.
“We also specialize in instrument repair and setup,” Clark said. “I am not from this area, and have only done online sales up to this point, so I guess it is kind of strange to decided to open a storefront in Exeter. But, the reason for choosing Exeter and the Barry County community is because of my store manager.”
Clark met Stogdill years ago, and he has a history and a background in the industry.
“Already, we are shipping thousands of orders all over the world out of the Exeter location,” Clark said. “It is neat to have a place right there in Exeter — it is perfect for us.”
Clark said he has built the storefront around the people he will have running it, since he isn’t in the area all the time.
“So far I have five employees,” he said. “I am from a small town in Texas, so I understand the value on making your community better. We look forward to being involved in the community as benefactors.
“A business is more successful, if the community is successful.”
Clark said the store is a destination, not just for fans and students.
“It is an experience,” Clark said. “Even when we were operating out of the small building in Washburn, we had people driving hundreds of miles to see it. It is more than products on the wall, our goal is offering families a good time and entertainment whenever they come.”
Clark said he still expects for most of the sales to come from online business, but he wants something that the locals can be involved with.
“We already have plans for the future with the store,” he said. “Around Black Friday, we are expecting to make a big, nationwide announcement.”
Clark said the storefront could bring in thousands of visitors to the surrounding area.
“We are going after people first, not profit,” he said. “The current shop hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but we are expecting to expand that more in the fall.”