In the simplest sense, buildings are just four walls and a roof meant to house people and objects. It is what you put inside that makes all the difference. Over time, J.W. Pepper & Son has moved in and out of many different buildings, depending on the needs of the company and its customers. No matter where Pepper employees are found, though, our dedication to service has always remained constant wherever we called home.
The American centennial was an exciting time for the nation. Cities and towns bustled with new industry and a brighter outlook replaced the bleak days that followed the Civil War. The country was looking for new pastimes, and one of the most popular was community bands. American patriotic music was experiencing a revival, with band leaders like John Philip Sousa rising to prominence.
The world has never been as connected as it is today. Technology has advanced such that we can communicate across the globe in a matter of seconds. Social media has become wildly popular, changing the internet from just a marketplace to a vibrant town square.
Education is the lifeblood of any successful society, preserving the best skills and techniques by passing them down to future generations. The music world has long benefited from passionate teachers who have imparted their knowledge to others.
You won’t see a lot of Pepper instruments out in the world these days. All told, the company only manufactured instruments for less than 30 years. During that time, however, Pepper led the way in innovation, creating new accessories, perfecting techniques, and even inventing a new instrument.
Part of J.W. Pepper’s dedication to serving musicians entails providing the largest selection of sheet music in the world. While the company has long prided itself on giving musicians as many options as possible, having such an extensive catalog of products can be overwhelming. This fact was the inspiration behind the service now known as Editors’ Choice.
The advent of the Internet changed retail forever, though that fact was not immediately apparent in the early days. In the mid 1990s, when the Internet was in its infancy, very few retailers saw the potential of this new medium. J.W. Pepper, however, has a history of exploring new business technologies and decided to explore the emerging medium.
For the generations of Pepper customers past, one of the defining features of our company has always been the Pepper Catalog. From very early on, the Catalog was a way to reach our customers when they could not make it into the store. It was a different world then, and the idea of a national music retailer was still in its infancy.
On the field, in the stands, or on the street, the Sousaphone is one of the most recognizable instruments in the world. Now a staple of show bands and parades, the instrument had its start in the late 1800s as a piece in John Philip Sousa’s Peerless Concert Band. As the name suggests, Sousa himself conceived the instrument, but the identity of the original manufacturer of the Sousaphone was disputed between C.G. Conn and J.W. Pepper.
It was the Mid-West National Band Clinic, 1964. Merrill Jones sat alone at a table with his publishing company’s entire catalog — one piece by Claude T. Smith, a well-known band director in the area around Kansas City.