FARMINGTON — In downtown Farmington, shoppers can stand on Broadway and see pink snow shovels for sale outside of Reny’s and smell fresh pesto at The Homestead, and hear Gaelic voices, a lone mandolin or Bach’s concerto in D minor coming from Everyday Music, the store that Ernie Scholl has owned and operated for almost 48 years. Scholl grew up in Calais, a town so close to the northern border, “if you sneeze you’re in Canada,” according to Scholl. He’s been a lover of music since he was five years old and bought his first ’45 record and spent much of his childhood listening to his parents’ big band music. He opened the store because of an idea he’d had with a high school friend of his. The two played in the same band together at the time and liked the thought of someday opening a record store. Though Scholl’s unnamed friend went in a different direction, after graduating from the University of Maine Farmington, Scholl remembered the dream he and his friend had once shared and opened Everyday Music as a record store. With only a passion for music and advice from family members who’d operated their own small business, Scholl retired playing himself and focused on encouraging others to find a love for music.
“I played for a while, but I’m an audience member now. And I’m happy with that. I hope to help people here and I’ve always tried to give them good music, good instruments and a fair price. Music speaks to people, and I’ve got a commitment to it that’s helped me stick it out all these years,” said Scholl.
While the store has been in the downtown location for 28 years, it occupied a space in the Mt. Blue shopping center for 20 years prior to that. With the arrival of Walmart in the last two years of that 20-year span, Scholl’s business started to suffer and encouraged him to move closer into downtown.
“The move was more economical, but it also put us within walking distance to the University students, you know to the people that are really bound to the town. The timing was nearly perfect too because the music industry was doing great right around then,” said Scholl who has witnessed each fluctuation of the music industry in the past 50 years.
“We peaked from around 1995 to 2008. During those years, the number one gift was CDs. Everyone wanted them. People think just because we’re a small shop in Maine, we’re behind, but that’s not true. When the industry grew, we grew.”
Similarly, with the mounting streaming options on the internet now, Scholl’s business has changed dramatically in recent years. With a steady decline in the demand for CDs, he’s had to transition to selling more instruments and stereo equipment. Some changes have been welcomed by Scholl though, especially that of the resurgence of interest in records.
“People want records again, or I guess they’re calling them vinyl now. There’s more young people coming back to the store, which is great. Selling albums again is a big positive for me since it’s where I got started,” said Scholl.
Today, when customers walk into Everyday Music, they might come in because they were attracted to the faint scent of vanilla and old paper that inhabits the storefront. They might have been enticed by the music they heard outside, or they might come for Scholl’s contagious and apparent love for the music industry and his place in it.
“You know, people say don’t make a career out of your hobby, but it worked out pretty well for me.”