If Billy Joel is the Piano Man, then one might consider calling Rick Holaus the local Music Man.
The longtime musician, musical instructor, businessman and family man recently opened Fretworks on Fording Island Road (Hwy. 278) in Bluffton. Beyond selling nearly every possible instrument a musician might want to play, and teaching young and older wannabe musicians of all skill levels, Holaus really just wants to spread the enjoyment that playing music can bring to the life of everyone who walks into his store.
“We offer a great program, in a great environment, very upbeat, in a family-friendly and musician-friendly environment, which isn’t easy to create,” said Holaus, a Wisconsin native who was an executive in a major music retail store in Milwaukee and founded a golf retail store and a sunglasses company there. “Those are two ends of the music spectrum; to be a cool, hip store and also be a family-friendly store.”
He and his wife and three boys moved to Greenwood 10 years ago to escape the winters up north, and he opened the first Fretworks there. He later opened another one in Yuma, Ariz., that his sister manages, and opened his latest retail venture in Bluffton on July 1 after moving here last September.
“I really want everyone in the Fretworks location to think of us as the local music center, meaning that when anyone thinks about anything that relates to enhancing and forwarding their personal enjoyment of music, they think of us, and we’re the place who will help get them there,” said Holaus, who majored in percussion in college, but was also an Eddie Van Halen-inspired guitarist. “We really want to be the music hub, the support hub.”
Inside the spacious 3,100-square-foot music center, customers will see a vast array of instruments, from ukuleles to drum sets to music systems, woodwinds and brasswinds, harmonicas, amplifiers, tuners, keyboards, accessories and, of course, dozens of acoustic and electric guitars hanging tantalizingly in three horizontal rows across an entire wall.
The guitars, which are the perennial best seller in the industry “by far,” Holaus said, range in price from less than $100 to about $5,000 for a top-of-the-line Taylor model.
The center also has six soundproof music studios for instruction, including a large space for group gigs, and also offers rentals, repair service and reconditioning.
“It’s a very positive space,” Holaus said. “We all come from different walks of life, but in here, we have that commonality, that common thing – music.”
Fretworks is located just past Seaquins Ballroom on the eastbound side at 1304 Fording Island Rd. in Bluffton. For more information, call 843-815-3738 or visit www.fretworksmusic.com.
Dean Rowland is a veteran senior editor and freelance writer living in Bluffton.