The Woodsy’s way: Music store in downtown Kent plays important role in local history


Abigail Griffith

Electric guitar’s for sale display inside Woodsy’s music store.

Chloe Cornely, Reporter

Woodsy’s Music has been a staple in the Kent community for over 40 years, offering musicians and music lovers a vast array of musical instruments and accessories since 1972. The Woodsy’s team has played an important role in the history of downtown Kent.

Paul Braden, owner of Woodsy’s Music and a graduate of Kent State, opened the original Woodsy’s Music in 1972 in a 300 square foot building under the name The Music Box. When Braden decided to grow the business and move to a bigger location, he also decided to change the name to Woodsy’s Music.

“We changed it for a variety of reasons. The main reason was because we did a lot of wood working,” Braden said. “We were mainly a repair shop. It was also a part of a family name as well.”

Throughout the past 40 years, Braden has worked to make Woodsy’s a home for music lovers in the Kent community.

“We have grown a lot since the beginning and we are fortunate we started in the era that we did,” Braden said. “There weren’t a lot of music stores in the area or around it. There were band and orchestra music dealers, mainly piano dealers, but back when we started in the 60s and 70s that’s when the music revolution was beginning.”

Many Kent State alumni continue to visit the store decades after graduating.

Loretta Straub from Lakewood is one of these individuals. Straub graduated from Kent State in 1989 and continues to visit Kent with friends from time to time.

“Woodsy’s has a reminiscent vibe that brings back great memories,” Straub said. “I used to come here with friends to visit the store. I had some friends who were in a local band and they would come here for different things.”

Although the music scene has changed through the decades, the heart of Woodsy’s has remained the same: loyal customers. Braden emphasizes the importance of great customers that continue to support Woodsy’s.

“It’s a team effort, basically, you know, this is not my store anymore,” Braden said. “We’ve got 80,000 people in our database. We have had a number of superstars in the store like Joe Walsh, Phil Keaggy and Michael Stanley to name a few.”

Woodsy’s offers a variety of services, including a retail store that mails orders all over the world, teaching studios, a band and orchestra department and an installation and touring company.

“We’re just about the biggest full line music store in the state,” Braden said. “We do more things as a music store than any other stores we’ve found.”

Woodsy’s also offers lessons for anyone interested in learning how to play a musical instrument. The store has over 30 teachers.

Devon Caskey, Woodsy’s lesson and contract coordinator, said Woodsy’s lessons are fun and welcoming for all.

“One thing that makes our lesson program really stand out is that we truly take on anybody,” Caskey said. “Our lesson program isn’t intimidating.”

Woodsy’s lesson programs are an important part of the community as well. Some schools in Portage County do not have orchestras or music programs for students to participate in. Woodsy’s allows students to continue their passion for music.

“Schools in our area don’t have orchestras in them but we have students from those school districts who are playing orchestral instruments,” Caskey said. “We provide a place for those students to have a music experience and education that’s not intimidating and gives them the flexibility to pursue other interests that they have while still keeping up with music.”

PBS published an article about the benefits of music education which stated that music programs enhance cognitive abilities, such as problem-solving and critical thinking skills, as well as improve memory and concentration. Learning music also encourages creativity, self-expression and self-discipline, which are essential skills for success in life.

Mary Luehrisen, executive director of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, a not-for-profit association that promotes the benefits of making music stated in the PBS article, “A music-rich experience for children of singing, listening and moving is really bringing a very serious benefit to children as they progress into more formal learning.”

Besides offering lessons to anyone willing to learn, Woodsy’s also works with other organizations.

“We service a lot of colleges, churches and local theaters like Lock 3 Park and Cain Park,” Braden said. “As we grew we became a big sound system installer and we traveled with a lot of audio way back in the day when that first started.”

Woodsy’s has always played a huge role in the Kent community.

A Kent Stater article from 1998 reported on Kent building The Home Savings Plaza, an outside stage on the corner of Main and Water Street for musicians to perform in front of Kent locals and visiting guests.

Many of the musicians who’ve played at The Home Savings Plaza have previously played at Woodsy’s and the store continues to service many of the concerts held at the plaza today.

Woodsy’s Music Store continues to service the Kent community by offering a vast selection of instruments, music lessons and repair services. As a new generation of musicians discovers the joys of playing music, Woodsy’s remains a vital part of the Kent music scene.

Chloe Cornely is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].