The Ground Floor: Vintage guitar shop continues Czech Village tradition

Bo Town Guitars aims to help make Cedar Rapids entertainment center

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Since the Flood of 2008, there hasn’t been a music shop in Czech Village, Michael Clair said.

That changed on Black Friday this year when Bo Town Guitars opened up on 16th Avenue SW.

“Traditionally here in Czech Village, there was always a guitar shop or a mom-and-pop shop,” Clair said. “There was variations, but there was always a music store down here. After the flood, nobody put another one in.”

Bo Town Guitars — staffed by two employees, along with co-owners Clair and Brett McCormick — sells vintage guitars and other string instruments such as mandolins, banjos and violins.

To be considered vintage, the instrument must be at least 25 years old, Clair said. Most of the instruments at the store, while used, start at $100.

Some have interesting qualities, such as the acoustic guitar signed by all members of U2 and an electric guitar signed by Paul McCartney last year.

“We definitely are not what I call a ‘junk store,’” Clair said. “These are really nice instruments for the most part.”

Bo Town Guitars also does guitar repair, said Clair, who has been dealing with vintage guitars for 40 years. He added the store hopes to offer guitar lessons as well, as soon as they find someone willing to teach.

The majority of its customers are established musicians or collectors, Clair said, and most of the store’s instruments cater to that demographic.

“It’s a place for a serious collector or someone who wants a great guitar,” Clair said.

However, they do have some beginner models for those starting to learn.

Bo Town Guitars falls under the umbrella organization Bo Town Entertainment, a Cedar Rapids based entertainment company founded in 2015.

With the help of Bo Town Guitars, Bo Town Entertainment aims to bring back entertainment into NewBo, McCormick said.

“There’s a motto in the company that we want to make Cedar Rapids the Midwest capital for arts and music,” Clair said.

The Bo Town Entertainment Park outdoor performance amphitheater, on Second Street SE, hosted the Harvest Moon Festival in September, which drew about 1,200 people to see local bands perform. Plans are in place as well to open two new venues, McCormick said — Bo Max, a restaurant set to be open on 16th Avenue SE in early 2017, and Bo Town Live, indoor concert venue on Third Street SE.

— Know a business that would be ideal for “The Ground Floor”? Contact Michael Chevy Castranova at michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com.

— Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

At a glance

• Business: Bo Town Guitars

— Owners: Michael Clair and Brett McCormick

— Address: 56 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids

— Phone: (319) 320-7283

— Website: www.botownguitars.com

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