Save The Trading Musician!

Photo: brewbooks. CC-BY-SA 2.0

As a musician living in Seattle I am very disappointed to learn that the Trading Musician music store is being sold and may disappear unless someone steps up to buy it ASAP.

Eddie Vedder, Macklemore, Ann Wilson, Dave Mathews, Brandi Carlile where are you? The community needs some angel investors to save the Trading Musician!

I consider the establishment to be the best used musical instrument shop in the area which has served the music community extremely well for a generation.

Located on Roosevelt Way just north of the University District, the Trading Musician has been designated by the city’s Office of Economic Development as a “Seattle Gem”, and for good reason. It’s not just a music shop where local music acts can trade in their instruments or purchase and rent excellent gear – it also serves as a vintage musical instrument museum, curiosity shop, and a great place to meet other musicians and start a band!

For many of us it is an essential part of the music community, inspiring young up and coming musicians and veterans alike. The city is a much better place for having such a supportive venue for creatives who want to learn and grow as performers and recording artists.

This venerable institution was founded 32 years ago and has been owned by Robin Bartlett-Smith. I’ve purchased many instruments there, including drum sets, microphones, multiple guitars and amplifiers. It’s the only place in town where you can find a beautifully carved Chinese string instrument called a pipa. The store also features a guitar repair shop.

The employees are musicians who really appreciate their jobs and see it as more than employment – it’s a lifestyle. 

I especially love their “flying v” guitar head logo which I sport proudly as a sticker on my studio door. It reminds me to be proud of my musical pursuits and never apologize for being a musician in a city that loves rock and roll.

No one is asking for charity – Trading Musician is a profitable enterprise. The Seattle Office of Economic Development’s 2017 report found that creative goods and services contributed $24 billion to the local economy – 18% of Seattle’s GDP, so it’s not just Boeing, Starbucks and tech giants who create wealth here.

I know that when I buy a guitar at Trading Musician it will be set up professionally by their luthiers. By offering trades they allow unfunded bands and artists to procure better equipment without a huge investment. 

In addition, if you need a part for a drum set, seek vintage tube amplifiers or special guitar strings, they will set you up in a very non-corporate style by staff members who truly love music. This is a locally owned operation that offers a refreshing alternative to the huge national chains  such as Guitar Center or Sweetwater.

According to anonymous staff, an offer has been made by a religious group who would like to replace the current business with a “music healing center” – which is an honorable venture, but would not provide the kind of support and service that Seattle musicians and bands require. 

The Trading Musician Facebook page says the building is listed at 1.7 million. A feasibility study by a potential buyer was scheduled for January 25th.

The entire music community will mourn the loss of such a special Seattle icon if it closes. I am not exaggerating when I say that tears have already been shed by local musicians. Trading Musician is a one of a kind business with a legendary history. We will never know just how many great bands were born during a visit to this glorious haven for local musicians. 

I know I speak for many artists who have expressed their sadness over this news. We would all like to see Trading Musician continue to serve the community as a major part of the Seattle music world.

Listing by Foundation Group:,it’s%20a%20whole%20musical%20experience.

Economic Development Report 2017:

Video tour of the store:

(Facebook post for October 22, 2022):

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