Robert M. Sides means music to community
The very name, Robert M. Sides, conjures up thoughts of music.
And why not?
The business has served the area music community for generations.
Peter Sides and his sister, Alysha Sides Greevy, are owners of the music center at 201 Mulberry St., Williamsport.
The city store is the headquarters for all the Robert M. Sides stores located throughout the region.
Peter said music simply runs in his family.
His grandfather, Robert M. Sides was an accountant and a musician who learned piano turning.
After moving to the area, he opened up the first Robert M. Sides Music Center at 45 Washington Blvd.
Robert’s son, Pete Sides and his wife, Carol, eventually took over the business and moved it to its present site in 1986.
Later, stores were opened in Wilkes Barre, Throop, State College, Shamokin Dam, and Horseheads, N.Y.
A visitor to the Robert M. Sides store will certainly notice the many different musical instruments on display and for sale, including the impressive number of Steinway and other types of pianos.
But Peter noted there is much more to what the business does than sales.
There’s the repair of instruments, which Peter estimates at about 11,000 per year.
“We probably do 1,000 piano tunings a year,” he added.
Luke, Chris and Bob Dincher, who represent two generations of that family, have long been offering piano care services.
Robert M. Sides also provides teaching and training for aspiring musicians.
“We do music lessons for professionals at lunch,” Alysha said.
That particular program, she added, has become very popular of late.
And of course, reaching out to local school systems, which are rich in musical programs and talent, keeps the business busy.
“When times are tough, parents still invest in kids’ music programs,” Alysha said.
The set-up and design of sounds systems at local venues, including the Little League World Series complex, are yet another part of the business.
Robert M. Sides employs about 100 people, most of whom work out of the Williamsport store, many of them trained and/or educated as musicians.
That’s a plus for customers who benefit from the passion the employees have for music.
Being part of the Williamsport business scene has been a great fit for the company, according to Peter and Alysha.
Peter noted the renaissance of the downtown of recent years with restaurants and hotels opening.
“Downtown is good for us,” he said. “There are a lot more places to eat. It used to be everyone fled downtown after 6 o’clock.”
It’s certainly not the forbidden, crime-ridden place after dark that some people believe it to be, Alysha noted.
Peter and Alysha noted that the business has experienced growth in recent years, with openings of more Robert M. Sides stores.
It is now the 65th largest music company in the U.S.
“Size is not what really matters,” Peter said. “But it is the result of hard work and loyal customers. Hopefully, we’ve done enough right to provide value to them. The fact we are still relevant after all these years speaks highly of our staff.”
Alysha said the future will mean focusing on “taking care of our customers.”
This year, marks the 80th anniversary of the company, and in November, a Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce PM Exchange will be held at the store.
“We are looking forward to that,” Peter said.