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Sweet Strings opens in Bell Buckle

By ZOË HAGGARD - zhaggard@t-g.com
Posted 10/11/22

There’s a new business in Bell Buckle’s downtown with some sweet guitars and even a few sweet treats. Sweet Strings officially opened its doors on Oct. 1 to music lovers of all kinds. …

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Sweet Strings opens in Bell Buckle

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There’s a new business in Bell Buckle’s downtown with some sweet guitars and even a few sweet treats. Sweet Strings officially opened its doors on  Oct. 1 to music lovers of all kinds

This may be owners, and husband-and-wife team Colin and Gail Gabhart’s, first music store business, but it’s not their first experience with guitars.  

“Colin grew up playing music,” said Gail, who is a fitness instructor and also knows how to find the rhythm of music in the latest, greatest hits.  

“I have played guitar my whole life,” said Colin. He has a harp, a banjo, a piano, guitars—both acoustic and electric.  

“He can play everything. So does one of our daughters,” said Gail. And it was actually the Gabharts’ daughters, Olivia and Annika, who came up with the “sweet strings” idea. That is, to sell a few sweet treats like cookies, cinnamon rolls, and even jellybeans.  

“It’s kind of an odd combination,” Colin admits. “But we hope it works.”  

Colin added that he was also inspired by his son, Abraham—who’s just as talented with instruments—and wanted a place where he could bring his friends and get them interested in music.  

On any given Saturday night, you’ll probably find the Gabharts playing classic rock, like the Beatles and Creedance Clearwater Revival, in their home studio.  

“For us, it’s the joy of music. It’s a language everyone can understand,” said Colin.  

Between 2017 and 2020, Colin was general manager for Gibson Guitar in Nashville, where he said his interest in guitars developed even more.  

“Between our backgrounds and our love of music, it just naturally came about,” said Colin.  

There he saw every aspect of the music business—from meeting artists to understanding endorsements to seeing the retail side—helping to make the transition to owning his store natural.  

“I met a lot of people. I gave Slash from Guns ‘n Roses a tour of the factory. I met Katy Perry and bunch of other people and got a lot of connections in the music industry—different suppliers and people who make cases and strings,” he said.  

The Gabharts first came to Bell Buckle in 2017. They had just moved to Murfreesboro from the Goodlettsville area and were taking their family to eat at the Bell Buckle Cafe. Little did they know that they would own a store beside the Bluebird Café.  

“My impression was, I love this place. It’s cute, it’s quaint, it’s got unique gifts,” said Gail. “When we found Bell Buckle, it was just the place that I thought anytime I had family visiting I’m going to take them here.”  

Last summer they came across the property, unsure of exactly what they wanted to do with it. By July, they bought the historic storefront that used to be a barber, then a toy store, then a wellness emporium, and now a guitar shop.  

“We kind of had a vision of it when we first saw the building. The prior owners had done a really fantastic job of remodeling it,” said Colin. 

“We just thought about what we were passionate about in life, and it came down to music. It was as simple as that.”  

Colin added, “We really wanted to—in as small of a space as we have—cater to a wide range of price points...I just hand-picked a wide range of acoustic and electric guitars that gave a good variety.”  

They work closely with locally owned Nashville Guitar Works as well as String Joy, who supplies their strings.  

“As much as possible, we’re trying to support local and bring in local instruments, local talent, and local people,” said Colin.  

But it’s more than just a guitar store. Walk into the long narrow store and you’re met with shining guitars of all types, vintage vinyl records, t-shirts and hats, ukuleles, accessories, shadow boxes, and yes, a row of jellybean dispensers.  

At the front of the store, there’s a special guitar made of individual pieces of wood. It’s a guitar made by Colin’s sister, Meleah Gabhart, who’s a North Carolina-based artist and has displays across the country—and now in Bell Buckle. Colin said she’ll even have a booth set up at the upcoming Bell Buckle Craft Fair.  

They say, too, Bell Buckle has been extremely welcoming.  

“It’s been an amazing experience… There’s so many musicians and we’ve several reach out to us about wanting to be involved in it, whether it’s giving lessons or playing here occasionally,” said Colin.  

This push from musicians wanting to perform has encouraged the Gabharts to hopefully have open mic nights in the future.  

“We’re new to retail. We’ve never done this before,” said Colin. “It’s been a journey really of discovering how things need to go in, what combinations, and how it needs to look for what we want to do.”  

For more information, you can find Sweet Strings on Facebook and Instagram @SweetStringsBellBuckleor call 931-813-3061. 

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