ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – In the streets of downtown Roanoke, Fret Mill Music Co. has been helping the Star City find the right notes for over 40 years.
Ken Rattenbury opened the store with his wife back in 1979.
“We came back to Roanoke and thought well, we will give this a shot. You know maybe it will be a year or two, and you know it just kinda stretched out longer than I thought,” Rattenbury said.
Over the years, the store has become a place where musicians can find the right gear or just escape from the daily grind.
“I would spend my lunchtimes here,” musician Mickey Wanzer said.
Wanzer said Rattenbury created a type of refuge for folks like himself.
“And the thing is you’re always welcome here to come in, play,” Wanzer said.
After years of being a customer Wanzer is now an employee at Fret Mill and will soon be getting a new boss.
Rattenbury announced his retirement a couple months ago and is passing the baton to another passionate musician.
Marie Anderson is usually in front of the mic but now she will be behind the counter ready to continue the store’s legacy.
“I am just super excited for people who want to continue to play, people who want to learn to play because that has been a part of my life for a really long time,” Anderson said.
Rattenbury will be around to help with the transition but plans to take things easy,
“I am going to take a while to do something I have never done to just imagine what could I or what should I be doing,” Rattenbury said.
He will soon be finding a new rhythm beyond his downtown store.
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