Meet Your Neighbors
By Penny Humme, Berksmont News, Vol 132, No 20, September 2005
Visitors to Meadowood Music in Maidencreek Township may be surprised to find the owners Paula Taylor and Mike Andrews have a background in engineering and construction, respectively. “Clearly a direct path,” Taylor said sarcastically of the couple’s transition to the music business.
Taylor is a Brandywine Heights High School graduate. While she was in high school, she played the guitar and sang for her own entertainment. She went on to earn a bachelor degree from Penn State and a master’s degree from Lehigh University, and went to work as an engineer for Energetics in Columbia, MD. It was while working as an engineer she started getting serious about her music. Taylor enjoyed all types of music, but found going to jam sessions at a nearby store, Baltimore Bluegrass, a good way to meet people.
Andrews was born in Washington, DC., but spent nine years of his childhood in Miami, Fl. He began playing the guitar when he was 12, and said he learned three chords and two songs. “I thought that was it,” he said.
As a teenager he returned to D.C., and later moved to Maryland as an adult. He worked as a master electrician for 30 years, acting as a job supervisor for a DC area electrical contractor. But all was not well. “I woke up at 39 with anxiety,” Andrews said.
He found Acoustic Guitar Magazine and decided to pick up his guitar again. “It was like the weight of the world was lifted,” Andrews said. A friend told him about a nearby store that held jam sessions. It was there Andrews met Taylor. The meeting not only added a new romance to Andrews’ life, but also proved to be a catalyst for a career change.
“I was bemoaning my industry and Paula asked me what I wanted to do,” Andrews recalled. “I said I wanted to have a music store.” The couple got to work on the music store dream. It took five years of planning and preparation. Andrews went to school to learn instrument building and repair. Taylor began a market study, a five year business plan and built a Web site.
The pair researched products and visited 50 music stores to get ideas of what they did and did not want to incorporate into their business. “The single biggest thing we learned was that the owner must be there daily,” Taylor said.
The couple conducted a nationwide market survey to pick the best location for their store. They included some locations where they already had connections, including the Kutztown area. “It turned out to be one of the better locations, “ Taylor said, explaining that no one had a similar store within miles. In March of 2000, Andrews and Taylor opened Meadowood Music in Kutztown; they married the same year.
When Andrews read Taylor’s business plan, he was a bit skeptical. “I thought, this is a nice fantasy,” he said. But five years later, the couple has hit every target on their five-year plan, and began to outgrow their space in Kutztown. “I’m not running around saying ‘na, na, na’ anymore, but I was,” Taylor said. The couple began looking for a larger location for their store.
They were on their way to look at a property when they saw an old stone home for sale on Route 222 in Maidencreek Township that they admired back in 2000. They had to do some extensive renovating, including adding a fire escape and handicapped accessible restrooms and expanding the parking lot, but opened the doors in May.
“If we were to measure our success on how wealthy we are – well, we pay the bills,” Taylor said. The pair measure their success by the quality of their reputation.
In addition to the guitar, Andrews plays the mandolin, his favorite instrument, and Clawhammer banjo. He’s also a skilled violin maker and is in charge of instrument repair. Taylor said her primary instrument is her voice, but she also plays the guitar, upright bass and fiddle.
The couple recently completed their second five year plan. Perhaps it included time for the two to enjoy their other favorite pursuits. Andrews is an amateur photographer, competitive target shooter, and cyclist. Taylor enjoys pencil drawing, cooking and gardening.