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Iconic Tasmanian music store celebrates 80 years of business in Launceston

A man with short hair wearing a red and white shirt, standing in front of a wall covered in guitars.
Mark Barratt says there was no pressure on him to take on the music store as a manager.

ABC Northern Tasmania: Fred Hooper

Barratts Music has been in Launceston since 1937 and it is still owned by the same family, who are hopeful it might stay in the family for a fifth generation.

Mark Barratt has been the current owner since 1991, and said there had been "very little" expectation on him to take over the iconic family business.

"My father said, you do what you want to do with your life, the business is there if you want it, if you don't want it someone else will buy it," he said.

"I really appreciated that growing up and I did go off and do some other things before I came here."

When the time was right

After about eight years of working in manufacturing, Mr Barratt's work situation changed and he decided it was time to taste life within the family business.

The store was started by James Barratt in 1937, followed by three generations of the family in Cyril, Rob and now Mr Barratt.

An old photo of a row of buildings with cars parked in front.
Barratts music has been at the current location since 1937.

Supplied

One of the current employees, Cheryl Masters, has worked in the store since 1974.

"That was the popular instrument. There was none of the electronic keyboards or anything like that.

"Guitars were big but probably not as big as they are today. Certainly they go in trends."

Autographs on a wall in a music store.
Well-known visitors to the store have left a reminder of their visit.

ABC Northern Tasmania: Fred Hooper

Mr Barratt said his earliest memory of the shop was from about 45 years ago in the upper level of the two-storey building.

"Upstairs was quiet. There were pianos in bits everywhere and the smell of glue in the air, and these old pianos being repaired," he said.

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Conveniently for the family there was a hand winch installed in the top floor of the building when they moved in 80 years ago, which is still used today.

A large door high up in a brick wall.
Pianos are lifted to this door at Barratts Music to be repaired.

ABC Northern Tasmania: Fred Hooper

"We wheel pianos down the laneway on a piano trolley and put some straps around them, and some unlucky person gets on the winch and starts winding," Mr Barratt said.

While it has been 80 years since James Barratt first opened the music store, Mr Barratt is confident his relatives would be pleased with the progress of the iconic shop.

"I'd like to think they'd be happy the business was still going and still family owned," he said.

Even though Mr Barratt has managed the store for 26 years, his passion for the store and industry has not diminished.

"I've loved it," he said.

A peach-coloured building in Launceston.
The music store has been in the same location since 1937.

ABC Northern Tasmania: Fred Hooper

When asked about the next generation of Barratts to manage the store, Mr Barratt said he would not be putting any pressure on his children to take over.

"I'll take the same approach as my dad. There's no compulsion. I'd like to see that but it's absolutely not going to be forced onto my kids."