After More Than 40 Years, Mollet Music Closing Its Doors

A lot of people in the Yankton area will be saddened to hear this news. I remember going to Mollet Music in the early 1990s to get my first French horn …

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After More Than 40 Years, Mollet Music Closing Its Doors

By Nathan Johnson

It wasn’t an easy decision, but on the day before Thanksgiving, Lanning Mollet announced that he would put to rest the source of a great deal of his happiness over the years.

A “store closing” sign was hung up at his business, Mollet Music. The store, located at 416 Broadway Avenue, has been a music instrument mainstay in the Yankton area for more than 40 years.

“I’ve been thinking about this for three or four years, actually,” Mollet said Tuesday afternoon. “But I just made the final decision and put the sign up before Thanksgiving. I’ve been doing this for 41 years, and to take that final step and put the sign up was hard to do. But it’s time for me to do something else. I’d like a little more time for myself and to cut back on the days I have to work.”

A sale to liquidate inventory is being held at the store, and he anticipates Mollet Music’s doors will close for good in January.

Having served as a band director and taking on several other jobs through the years, Mollet decided to open his own music instrument store in Yankton in 1969 at the age of 30.

“I was probably pretty naive, but it worked out,” Mollet, now 71, said.

He originally operated in a building across the street from his current location before moving to the Yankton Mall for five years. In 1984, he settled in at 416 Broadway.

During its heyday, Mollet Music employed about a dozen people and helped approximately 80 schools with their band instrument needs every week.

“That just isn’t in the cards anymore,” Mollet said. “In some cases, there are four or five kids in a class at these smaller schools.”

The music instrument business has seen enormous changes through the years due to evolving technology and culture, he added.

“Video games and that kind of stuff — they take interest away from music,” Mollet said. “There is also just a whole lot of pressure on these kids anymore. They fill their school day up.

“It’s a changing world, and I don’t think it’s going to change back,” he continued. “There will always be musicians. It’s just going to be a different way of approaching it, I suppose.”

During his years operating the business, Mollet played a role in many people’s lives. “Lanning has helped a lot of people become what they are today,” said Mike Clausen, who began working for Mollet as an instrument repairman in 1973 and eventually bought that portion of the business in 1987. “He gave them a chance. Some of them that were kids now come to the store as band directors.”

Clausen will continue to operate Mike’s Band Instrument Repair at 413 Cedar Street, which is right behind Mollet Music. He said he was a little blindsided when Lanning told him last week that the decision had been made to close the music store.

“It’s been a great 38 years,” Clausen said. “We worked together and everything clicked. I hate to see him go.”

Mollet said his favorite part of the business has been the people he has met as both customers and employees.

“Musicians are pretty nice people, almost to a fault sometimes,” he said. “With the school stuff, you’re dealing with parents who are interested in their kids. It is really a people business. It’s not a superstore thing, where somebody comes in, throws it in a cart and goes. You talk to people and try to figure out what they really need and help them find it.”

Once the store closes, Mollet said he will still need to maintain his instrument rental program until it can be phased out. Also, he plans to maintain an online presence at http://www.molletmusic.com.

“Our website has been doing some interesting things,” Mollet said. “I’m finding some niche products and used things that I’ve been working into. It looks like I may have some success at that, and it’s not probably something I’ll have to do every day.”

He said he appreciates the support he’s gotten from the community and the surrounding area through the years.

“It’s been really nice and we’re grateful for it,” Mollet said. “I’ve been happy. Not a lot of people get to do what they really want to do every day. I’ve been lucky to be able to do that.”

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