Twin Town Guitars founders Andrew Bell and former business partner Jimmy Peterson originally opened the shop with their bandmates in mind.
“Jimmy and I were both in different bands and played all the time, and we knew what our friends wanted,” Bell said. “We wanted a place that gives you a square deal, has lots of choice and something that would work with the musician — a place that could take trades.”
They wanted the store to keep products on layaway and give musicians time to put together a few payments.
“The idea of Twin Town was to take as many impediments out of the way of the musician [as possible],” Bell said. “That was the No. 1 goal we had. To make things easy.”
Twin Town hosted an anniversary celebration Aug. 5, featuring a performance by Jeremy Messersmith. The store opened in August 1997, tripled in size in 2005, added 100 solar panels in 2011 and expanded again in 2015 to create a dedicated drum shop. The shop’s lesson program teaches instruments including acoustic and electric guitar, piano, cello and harmonica, in addition to voice and songwriting lessons.
Bell said he decided to pursue solar power to make an impact on the community’s carbon footprint.
“The very nature of our business is recycling,” he said, adding that some guitars use tropical woods that impact rainforests. “We buy used and then we sell it again.”
After installing solar panels, the shop’s electricity bill dropped from the high hundreds down below $200 per month, he said. Excess energy goes onto the grid. Bell said he likes to imagine neighbors using Twin Town solar power to make their morning coffee before the shop opens every day.
Another recent change to the shop came with the expanded drum section, giving drummers a chance to play loud instruments without worrying about disturbing acoustic guitarists in the next aisle.
Bell said he never considered opening Twin Town in a different storefront. He and Peterson lost out on the shop’s initial lease, and they waited more than a year for it to become available again. The location is about 10 blocks from Bell’s house and stands in the former Benedict Music storefront, the “legendary” venue that operated there until the mid-90s.
“It always made sense that there were guitars on the corner of 34th & Lyndale,” Bell said.