BY TAYLOR PACE
A new guitar store opened in the downtown Galt area of Cambridge in February, with the owner hoping to reinforce the growing community and local music scene.
The Galt Guitar Shop, located on Water Street, sells an array of guitars, ukuleles, amps and accessories. Alongside the guitars you will find owner Rob Swift, sitting comfortably in his chair in the back corner, with a picturesque view of the Grand River.
Swift always dreamed of opening a guitar store later in life, but his vision really took hold last summer while watching TV.
“I was watching American Pickers on TV, and I had a whole bunch of instruments that I’ve had forever, guitars and amplifiers, and I was thinking about selling one of them. I thought, ‘I don’t want to take it to Toronto, who is here locally that I could sell it to?’”
But with no local guitar shops in the area, he decided to open his own.
“I wanted it to be a small, local guitar shop, with a few hand-picked instruments, but mostly concentrating on guitar setups and maintenance, like a little repair shop. So far it’s been going really well,” he said.
Although a lifelong dream, Swift was inspired to open the store sooner than planned after seeing the success of other local businesses like Forch’s Record Store.
“Forch’s was part of my inspiration for doing this,” he said, because he used to manage similar stores in Toronto. “With Forch’s and E-bolt (music school), (the time) just seemed right.
“There’s a really good, creative scene here that’s started to grow … I’d like to work with (other local businesses) and grow the Cambridge music scene.”
Swift wanted the store to have a gallery vibe to it, and it does. Hanging on the white walls are a series of instruments, each proudly displayed like art.
“I was going for a very minimalist, let the instruments speak for themselves look,” he said.
With the exception of the new Gretsch guitars, all of the electrics are second-hand, carefully selected and purchased by Swift.
“Some of them are mine from years ago,” he said. “But over the past year I really started picking up guitars from people locally selling them.”
His love affair with guitars started at an early age.
“I started playing guitar when I was 14, and fell in love with it. I’ve played in a lot of bands in Toronto and have done a bit of touring,” he said. But his career shifted away from music to web and graphic design –that is, until recently.
“I’ve always wanted to open up a guitar store. I thought, why wait until I’m retired? I’ll try to do it now.”
His intention is not only to bring guitars to the community, but also to build relationships with people in it.
“I love talking to local musicians and meeting people,” he said. “I really want it to become part of the community.
“My main goal is that it will create a small hub for musicians and creative people,” he said, adding he would frequent local guitar stores in Toronto when he was a musician there. “That’s what I want to bring to this area.”
Galt has been without a guitar store for many years, and since MacAuley’s Music closed its doors in Preston in 2014, Cambridge musicians have had to flock to other cities to get their independent music store fix. Swift’s new business will fill the void.