“At one point in Eau Claire there were a lot of music stores, I'm sure there were four stores downtown," says Jeremy Neff, Owner of Neff's Pianos. Now there are only a few.
“The traditional acoustic pianos, there is still a small market for it but most people today opt for something electric you know what we call a digital piano,” says Rich Morgan the Owner of Morgan Music.
Stand-up acoustics range from $3-5,000, electrics average $500.
“The culture has been shifting. There are fewer middle class families and so there are fewer that are able to afford lessons and pianos,” says Neff.
But it may not be as much about price as it is about priority.
“I just think it's the mindset of where our culture is going,” says Holly Fentress, a Neurological Music Specialist, “It's been proven through research that music and art and drama can build strong neurological connections, but of course with budget cuts and everything, music is taken out of the schools.”
While Morgan Music in Eau Claire has adjusted to the decrease in sales by adding other instruments to sell, Neff's on Water Street has stuck with traditional pianos. However, they say the lack of competition has allowed them sustain their sales throughout the years.
UPDATE: Since this story aired, we heard from one of the co-owners of Eau Claire's newest piano store, Bello Piano, in Oakwood Mall. Anita Clark says their sales have exceeded their expectations since opening in November. The store has a grand opening set for January 17.