Family-run business working to stay afloat after 54 years

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Updated: 9/29/2013 9:46 am
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & -- The Maytan Music Center has been serving northern Nevada since the 1950's. In tonight's Nevada Proud feature, News 4's Ashley Cullins shows us why operating in a new century is putting their family business at risk and what they're doing to keep it up and running.

Iris Maytan didn't plan on owning a music store. 

"On April 1, 1959 my husband came home from work and he said honey would you like to buy a music store?" Iris said. 

She thought it was an April Fool's joke. 

"He never said April Fools," she said.

The store has been in the family ever since. 

Her daughters, Marianne and Marilee, have been a part of the family business from the start. 

"I started here in 1959 cleaning ash trays for my dad," Marianne Maytan said. "I was ten years old."

"Growing up it was just a part of my life," Marilee Hunt-Mallett said. "I didn't know anything else."

Now they've been working together for the better part of five decades.

"It's heaven," Iris said. "I love them. They're just great."

"My dad used to say it was his dream to put a musical instrument in the hand of every child," Marianne said. 

The Maytan family has been working toward that dream since 1959, selling instruments and teaching classes for all ages. Growing from a small house on Center Street to the large, corner building they've been in for 34 years.

But it's a different world now, a half-century after the business started. 

"It's changed drastically," Iris said. "The little guys are really hurting in this area."

Marianne said national chain music stores are part of the reason, another is the internet. 

"Everybody likes to go shopping on the computer instead of going to the place," she said. "I've done it myself."

Something that's a major convenience for most people is a major challenge to small business owners like the Maytans.

"Right now we're in a pretty devastating position," Marilee said. "If we don't do something soon, we're going to lose the business."

But they're not going down without a fight.

"We're trying to downsize the store to make it more feasible so that we can survive." Iris said. 

They're going to focus less on retail and more on instrument repairs, education and making the most of the space, which includes 16 studios, two classrooms and a special event space with room for 200. 

"We're looking for qualified teachers," Marilee said. "We're looking for anybody who would want to rent some space."

Despite the challenges the Maytan family still dares to dream. 

"We're talking about Maytan Academy of Music, or Midtown Academy of Music, something like that," Marianne said. "That would be the dream come true." 

Iris isn't ready to quit.

"We want to keep going if we can," she said. "I'm not a giver-upper."

If you're an artist, musician or small business owner who is looking for space to rent you can contact Marianne at Maytan Music Center at (775) 323-5443.
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