On July 22nd, the Ottawa Folklore Centre declared bankruptcy and closed its doors for good. It has been an institution I had known all my life- in fact we were both born in the summer of 1977. When I was starting out as a luthier it was pretty much the only place in the city where one could see a real, handmade guitar, hung so high up in the tiny Bronson Street storefront that I would have to ask the staff to get a stepstool to reach one. They always obliged. In the back, mysterious sounds would emerge where they worked magic to rescuscitate old acoustic guitars.
Later, when they had moved to bigger digs on Bank Street, I worked up the courage to ask them to sell my first guitars on a consignment basis; they consented, barely. But the real value was in their mentorship, helping me to understand what I would have to do to make a real living at this difficult craft, and introducing me to other members of our little music community. This was invaluable help on my way to becoming a real professional guitarbuilder.
Sadly, it couldn't last forever. I even had a guitar hanging on their walls for sale (on consignment, of course- a folk-music establishment was never going to have much cash around) when I heard the news. I've got it back though: Cherrybomb. As far as I know there was no one major culprit to their closing, just a combinations of different market forces pressing and pressing until it just didn't make any since to go on. I don't think there will be another place quite like it ever again.