Music shop closing

November 14, 1996



Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - John Grissinger remembers when, back in the early 1960s, Jane West ran the best place in Martinsburg for buying 45 rpm records.

"All the kids did. Jane was the only one in town who had the top 100 hits," said Grissinger, a former Martinsburg radio disc jockey. "We'd buy a stack, four or five at a time. If you bought a lot you got something off."

West remembers those days, too.

"If they bought 10 they'd get one free. We sold hillbilly and country music, Bing Crosby, Sinatra, Elvis, Earnest Tubbs, rock 'n' roll and Patsy Cline," West said.


Her store, Music and Gift at 213 N. Queen St., and the Flower Basket, a flower shop in the same building at 209 N. Queen, will close on Dec. 1. West is retiring, and her going-out-of-business sale is under way.

West, 73, and her husband, Ronald West, 82, bought the building with its four apartments and a music store, for $100,000 "on a handshake" in 1949, she said.

The Wests had been living in Hagerstown where she grew up. They moved into one of the upstairs apartments and started running the music business. The gift shop came later.

The Flower Basket opened 20 years ago. It was sold to the couple's son, Ronald Jr., He just sold it to Mary Cole, a store employee. Cole will move the flower shop to 129 N. Queen St. on Dec. 1. Mary Wroe, a 10-year employee in the shop, moves with it.

West's husband operated Coaches Supply, a sporting goods store, next door until 1980 when he retired.

Annabelle Puffinberger was looking over the sale merchandise in the back of the gift shop earlier this week. "I've been coming here since the store opened. I guess I'm just not a mall shopper," she said.

"You don't find loyal customers like Annabelle anymore," West said. "I guess that's one reason why I stayed here so long, because they were here and because I've been having so much fun. My customers are what kept me in business for the last few years."

West said most of the older downtown businesses have moved out to the malls. "It's the trend, but I still feel a business can succeed downtown with quality merchandise, good service and good prices."

A big seller in West's gift shop, with its higher end merchandise, are the Cairn Collector Society artwork series, a collection of thousands of whimsical figurines, mostly gnomes and little animals.

William Smith, a retired Air Force colonel, and his wife, Patricia, have collected more than 200 pieces, he said. "We bought them all here," he said last week while perusing West's dwindling stock.

West sold her building to Greg and Janie Henry of Berkeley Springs. The Henrys run an art gallery in their home but have run out of room, Greg Henry said.

They will renovate the downstairs of the Queen Street building turning one side into an art gallery and the other into a framing shop, he said. The new store will open in March, he said.

Jane West will spend her new free time with her dogs. She shows and judges at dog shows.

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