Closer Look

Paradise Music celebrates longevity in business

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Amy Kirkpatrick

Many businesses in Macon County can boast longevity. One of those is a Franklin institution called Paradise Music, which celebrated its 13th anniversary on April 1.  

The shop serves a wide range of music lovers, from the Beatles-influenced, Jimmy Buffett-loving guitar traditionalists to bluegrass instrumentalists to Rolling Stones-apostates. Paradise Music even appeals to Pantera-loving [heavy metal group] up and comers, like local Sam Waldroop, who was hanging out with owner Bryan Loy near the electric guitars and drum sets on a warm March day.

“My favorite thing to do is to talk about the shop,” said Loy. “The music business has been the center of my universe for close to 40 years.”

He explained that he started his music-focused life where he lived previously in Clinton, Tenn. 

“I was a piano major in school, but once I saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, I said that’s what I want to do. I was one of those kids, given a choice between a guitar or something to eat, I’d always pick the guitar and go hungry,” he quipped.

Loy’s love of guitar is demonstrated by the carefully curated acoustic, electric, and bass guitars carried by Paradise Music, including the Alvarez, Eastman, Gretsch, and Ibanez lines. The addition of Larrivée guitars known for their craftwork and sound is “a real feather in our cap,” he said.

For Appalachian music traditionalists, the shop carries mandolins and violins, along with drum kits, amplifiers, sheet music, and accessories galore.

“Since day one,” Loy stated, “I’ve fancied this as a hardware store for working musicians. We have most of all the things that you need to keep your gear working. We’ve got a repair shop for stringed instruments [and] a piano tuner on call.” 

The shop, in fact, offers sales, service, lessons, and equipment rentals.

MUSICIAN AND Paradise Music customer, Sam Waldroop, checks out a Gretsch Electromatic guitar.

“You can try the [instruments] and find the one you love. If you need lessons, we can teach you to play it. If it breaks, we can fix it. If you get tired of it, we can take it back and find you a new one,” he said.

Lessons are an important offering. 

“I’ve been teaching piano since I was 18,” he said. 

Paradise Music offers lessons in guitar, piano, banjo, violin, and drum. A staff of four teachers currently teach 40 students. Loy says he welcomes musicians to join the team. 

The shop offers weekly lessons for anyone ages eight to 80, based on a monthly plan. If students purchase an instrument, Paradise Music waives registration fees. Loy finds working with students gratifying, but is emphatic with students, telling them, “You’ve got to spend the time [practicing] at home. That’s the secret to being a musician. When you see the look on a parent’s face when a kid just smokes a piano tune or guitar tune and they’re like, ‘Wow! This is the thing right here!’ or you have an older guy who says, ‘I’ve been struggling to do this thing all my life and now I’ve got it.’”

BRYAN LOY and his wife, Kim, own and operate Paradise Music.

Changes in Latitude

After spending time between Tennessee and the Florida Keys, while following the tropical vibe in the early 1980s, Loy and his wife, Kim, found their way to Franklin. Dealing with the loss of his parents at the time, Loy said, “I needed to ground myself … and now I’m up here ‘til I die.”

He shared why Franklin has become his anchor.

 “I have never lived a place in my life that the people are so friendly. Ninety percent or more who walk through that door are happy and laidback. 

“You never know with a new town if they’ll accept you or not,” recalled Loy, remembering when he opened Paradise in Franklin in 2011. “You ask yourself, ‘Am I going to be able to make this [business work]?’”

He was pleasantly surprised. 

“People would come in, and they would look around, and then they’d grin and say, ‘Thank God somebody finally put a music store in this town.’”  

Every October, Paradise Music pays that sentiment back with an open house filled with good food and music to share with the community.

PARADISE MUSIC offers lessons in guitar, piano, banjo, violin, and drum and carries a varied selection of instruments.

Food for Strings

Additionally, every November, Paradise Music hosts an open house to support food security in the community. Musician Curt Mangan provides strings for this annual effort. Community members can bring six cans or boxes of non-perishable, non-expired food and in return, Paradise Music will restring an instrument free of charge. In a recent drive, Paradise Music collected 300 pounds of food to donate to CareNet.

“I don’t make huge money here. I could make more money in a bigger town like Charlotte, but I wouldn’t be nearly as happy,” reflected Loy, when asked about the challenges of running a business in Western North Carolina.

A self-taught businessman and contractor, Loy expanded to other locations but consolidated back to one store in 2020. The growth of online sales, coupled with heavy drive time overseeing stores ranging 120 miles apart influenced his decision.

The extra time Loy regained allows him to indulge in favorite pastimes like spinning tunes on internet radio station Paradise Radio as well as composing music, which often comes from past heartaches. 

“You suffer a little and it leaves you with a story to tell,” shared Loy. 

He can also devote more time to playing at outdoor festivals with his band, Paradise 56. Locals can catch Paradise 56 on June 8 at Pickin’ on the Square in downtown Franklin. 

Reflecting on the success of Paradise Music and being headquartered in Franklin, Loy said, “The people in this town have been amazingly good to us. They’ve taken us in like family … It’s impossible to tell people how much I appreciate the quality of life this town has given to us.”

Paradise Music is located at 292 NE Main St, Franklin and is open Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit

Amy Kirkpatrick is a member of the Macon County Beekeepers Association.