BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — A local music store is redefining the way it does business in order to stay afloat during the pandemic.
"Normally, we would have students come to the shop. I've got five studios and four other teachers that each with us, but right now, everyone's teaching from the house," says Rick Williams, owner of Running Dogs Music in Broken Arrow.
Their music lessons have gone virtual instead of in-person after COVID-19 restrictions to follow social distancing guidelines.
The store celebrated its opening on March 2, and 22 days later, it had to shut down.
"Right now we’re operating at about 60% capacity. A lot of folks didn’t want to do the online thing, held on to their spot," says Williams.
He teaches all levels of string instruments, including the guitar, ukulele, mandolin and the banjo.
Williams started teaching in 1988 with Guitar House of Tulsa for 27 years, then moved on to rent a space at Bishline Banjos for five years before opening Running Dogs Music.
"I did not anticipate a pandemic with everything I was thinking trying to open a store," adds Williams, "We were just getting started when we got closed down."
Having to adapt to the times and do lessons online, he shares, comes with some challenges.
“It’s not as handy with the Internet, there’s always a lag, so you can’t play back and forth, which is part of what we’re trying to do not just teaching the instrument. We’re trying to teach people how to be musicians," explains Williams.
It's also a new way of learning for students like Tom Tatro, who plays the banjo.
"It’s a little harder, you have to kind of stop and go. Both of us have to pay more attention because a lot of it is finger work," says Tatro.
Still he finds himself pushing even harder, especially with the safer-at-home order.
"I have something I’m supposed to do to be ready for our next lesson," says Tatro.
Despite the temporary setback, both the students and teachers are happy to share their passion and create music, until they can see each other again in person.
Williams is thankful for the community's support during these trying times.
"Hopefully, we'll just start again when this is all over," says Williams, "My students and the folks who have supported us over the years have just been incredibly phenomenal about trying to buy stuff from us and do everything they can do to make sure we stay afloat."
Running Dogs Music is also offering instrument curbside repair in addition to the virtual lessons. It is located in a strip mall at 1169 S. Aspen Ave., Broken Arrow.
If you'd like to learn more or set up a time slot, you can email them at Rick@runningdogsmusic.com or call 918-505-3131 or 918-630-6264. You can also follow them on Facebook for more updates.
The music store is one of several local small businesses we continue to highlight in our "We're Open Green Country" series.
Visit our website, for a full list of businesses. You may also fill out a submission form for a small business that is still operating and offering essential services.
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