Mass Street Music started out as Michigan Street Music in 1978, as it was on Michigan Street in Lawrence. Owner Jim Baggett (L) and Rick Dishinger (R), together with Greg Smith, founded the store, dedicating themselves to the crafting and repairing of acoustic instruments. Jim studied lutherie and repair in Kansas City from 1971-78, and the other members brought similar skills. Building and repairing instruments led them to begin carrying accessories and parts. Soon, the store was dedicated to both sides of the equation – retail and repair. The growing demands of the business led Jim to purchase the larger building at 14th and Massachusetts Street where we are today. After doing some heavy-duty cleaning in the new building, Mass Street Music officially opened its doors with the new name in 1983.
In 1986, husband and wife Leo Posch and Susan Willits joined Mass Street Music. Leo was the first full-time repairman besides Jim, and he repaired thousands of instruments before embarking on his own venture, Leo Posch Guitars, in 2000. Susan has done everything that can be done at our store, and she is still serving as our bookkeeper.
In 1987, John Flynn joined the staff and later became co-owner. John sold guitars, designed PA systems, and managed the store for over 26 years. He remains part owner, though he is now working in another field. You’ll still see John in the store from time to time, most likely jamming a Grosh or an Anderson electric.
Around 1999, a 3,000 square foot addition was made to the existing store, effectively doubling its size. The addition was the first building in Lawrence to utilize ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) – an efficient, environmentally-friendly construction technique. The building addition enabled a much larger repair shop and the retail space was expanded to include a separate acoustic room. In 2013 we gave the store another big ‘facelift’ for our 30th Anniversary with the goal to create more comfortable space for customers to play music, and making room for more in-store events.
Didn’t I see you on the T.V.?
In 2003, owner Jim Bagget was asked to appear on the PBS television series Antiques Roadshow. His vast knowledge of vintage instruments has been a valuable asset to the program. Since then, he has appeared many times on the popular show. You can check out Jim Baggett’s televised appraisals here.
Jim has also shared his knowledge with builders, pulling “the best of the best” from his personal vintage collection as examples of what to strive for. He helped one of the largest and oldest guitar companies – Martin Guitars – refine the design of their ultra-nostalgic D-18 Authentic 1937 and D-28 Authentic 1937 guitars. As Jim has owned several of these original pre-war instruments, his advice helped Martin produce two of the most accurate, authentic, and splendid guitars made today. Most recently he worked with Bill Collings and provided his own vintage J-35 to Bill to help in the creation of the Collings CJ-35 – one of our favorite new models.
We joined cyberspace in 1998 with our website at www.massstreetmusic.com. Our goal has always been to give folks (both in Lawrence and outside the region) a real taste of the store – the unique gear, staff knowledge, and top notch service of Mass Street Music. We updated our site extensively in 2002, 2008 and most recently 2013 – still keeping in mind bringing the real in-store experience to customers, no matter where they live. Since 2011 we have also been sharing local and regionally made gear on our site, ensuring great Kansas and Missouri builders like Leo Posch, Seuf and others can be seen in more than just Lawrence, Kansas.
We are still an independently owned local store and ‘small’ by many standards, but our large selection of music gear is world class, as is our service, instrument repair and expert staff. We look forward to the future – always keeping at our core the love of music and community, in all their many forms.