The loudest instrument in Dean’s Strings and Music Supplies is the wind chime hanging on the back of the front door.
Every couple of minutes, another customer walks in, sending the chime into a frenzy of dings.
Dean Tower opened at his new location two days ago, and he’s already inundated with customers.
“There’s a big need out there and somebody has to fill it,” says Tower, who could only be interviewed a few minutes at a time, between customers looking for Christmas gifts.
Originally housed on Third Avenue, the store moved to 312 Wood Street this week, between the Yukon Cinema and the Golden Thimble fabric shop.
“It was time to move,” he says. “My little store was getting packed and it was time.”
He’s run the business for three years, handily competing against two other Whitehorse music outlets.
It’s not surprising Yukoners have more than their fair share of music stores.
“If you look into it, the Yukon has more people per capita who claim to be artists on their tax forms than elsewhere,” he says.
The new location is spacious and not too cluttered, with guitars lining the walls and a row of keyboards near the back.
There’s a bookcase filled with instruction manuals, and a wall covered with quirky instruments like glockenspiels and Jew’s harps.
Tower came to music as a violin player, and earned a bachelor of education so he could teach the instrument.
That’s what he did in the Yukon for years, before he opened the store.
A customer with a banjo book walks up the register, putting the interview on hold.
“And I’ll take another Snark,” he says.
Tower turns around a picks up one of the small specialized guitar tuners off the wall behind him.
“Did you already lose your other one?” he asks.
“No, I didn’t lose the other one,” says the customer.
“It makes a great stocking stuffer and my brother, who plays guitar, has never Snarked it, so it’s time he gets a Snark.”
Tower originally ordered 30 Snarks at his old location, but they sold quickly, he told the customer.
Another 90 Snarks are on their way.
Ordering instruments is a tricky business, he says after the customer is gone.
You can line up standard brands, but it won’t be long until someone wants a specific make.
“You have to guess, but it’s always hard,” he says.
Just then, a man from Dawson City walks up to the register with a half-sized classical guitar.
He’s here buying Christmas presents too.
“You’re from Dawson?” says Tower.
“Could you bring an envelope there for me?”
Tower has an envelope that needs to get to some woman named Gaby.
“She works in my office,” says the customer.
Then Tower asks if he can bring a large portable heater for another friend in Dawson.
“Sure,” says the customer, with a little more suspicion in his voice.
Meanwhile, the credit card machine isn’t working.
“You can tell it’s Christmas – the lines are busy,” says Tower.
He slides the card though it a third time.
“Hmmm, I might add something,” says the customer, turning his head to the wall with the glockenspiels.
“I was looking at those little accordions.”
Just then, the machine beeps and the receipt flows out.
“Ha, it worked,” says Tower.
“Oh well, next time,” says the customer.
Tower smiles while he hands over the receipt.
“Damn it,” he says with a laugh.
The customer laughs too, but then pauses.
“Let’s have some fun – I’ll take one of the red ones,” he says.
The customer leaves after Tower grabs one of the accordions off the wall.
But he’ll be back tomorrow to pick up the heater, he says.
In the tiny opening before Tower helps the next customers – two teenagers eyeing guitars – he’s able to explain that there will be an open house on Saturday to celebrate the new location.
After the regular store hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Kim Beggs and Kevin Barr will play music at 7:30 p.m.
There’ll be food too, he says.
At that moment, the doors chime again, and the interview is over.
Contact James Munson at