Thanks for the Calls and E-mails on DJs …

The story’s below, and I appreciate your response. Rachel

By Rachel Pritchett
DJ’s Music, for 30 years the heart and soul of music in South Kitsap, is set to close.
“I haven’t been true to this store. I haven’t been able to put my whole heart into it, because he’s missing,” said owner Diana Watson.
Those painful words were on beloved husband Donald “DJ” Watson, who died is 2008 of Parkinson’s disease and who built the business from a tiny store he opened on Bethel Road in 1979.
DJ’s is the only music store in South Kitsap, and the 13 teachers who’ve earned livings in the DJ’s studios, as well as the thousands of students who’ve struggled with lessons here, hold nothing less than grief for what looks like the end.
“It was like home,” said Renee Cammers of Port Orchard, who over the years bought reeds, had her sax re-corked and her flute repaired after her sister sat on it, all at DJs.
The South Park Village store, at this location only since 2008, does have that home feel. Waiting parents sip coffee and read at tables, almost like a living room.
Those same kids perform maybe for the first time on the DJ’s glittering stage.
High schoolers drop by to sing, passing the DJ’s signature stuffed gorilla at the door.
Diana sleeps nights at the store in snow, to make sure it stays stay the usual seven days.
“There’s no such thing as no DJ’s,” astonished customers have told Diana on hearing the news, that sentiment echoed by teachers who must find other space or teach in homes.
“Losing DJ was devastating and now losing DJ’s Music is plain heartbreaking,” said teacher Brian Lilly.
“I feel terrible,” said teacher Bill Carter.
No music store has fared easy in this recession as strapped parents cut back on frills. DJs is no exception.
But there was trouble before for DJ’s Music, when DJ fell tighter and tighter into Parkinson’s grip.
For five years, Diana took care of him at home while trying to take care of the busy store, too, then at its best-known location at Mile Hill Plaza.
The business suffered and in 2008 when DJ died, Diana forged on, moving the store to South Park Village.
“Because I had teachers who made their living …. I had employees. It was needed in the community,” she said.
She threw much of her personal money into DJ’s Music, and is in debt, she said. Her Allyn home is near bankruptcy.
DJ’s Music began after DJ, who had been working for Bremerton Music Store, spun off on his own.
The Bethel store grew fast, buoyed by instrument rentals to the South Kitsap School District.
Diana worked alongside DJ, and over the years, the store expanded to Bremerton, Poulsbo and Silverdale, where it stayed for many years.
In 1991, the Port Orchard DJ’s moved to Mile Hill Plaza.
The store’s been for sale for several months, and even in this rough economy, there’s been a bite or two.
One came from former nightclub man Scott Hlinka.
“I was actually negotiating with her to get this place,” Hlinka said.
And it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that someone else could buy the business before she closes in a few days.
But it’s not likely, leaving South Kitsap music lovers to go to Tacoma or elsewhere in Kitsap County.
Diana, 61, said she’ll spend more time teaching her Bible studies and visiting family.
“I want out because I can’t deal with the memories,” she said.
She said that when it comes to parents supporting their kids, there’s no place like South Kitsap.
“I think this is the reason I put everything I own into this store. I’ve watched parents support their children in art, and what’s it’s done for these children.”
“And that’s been the biggest job in this business, is watching the children grow up.”

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