In the spring of 1986, our Texas location opened its doors in Grand Prairie, Texas. The branch was managed by Mike Purdy, and Luana Marler was hired as the assistant manager. Four other women worked in shipping, receiving, order filling and customer service. After a few years in Texas, Mike, a confirmed New Yorker, left to return “back East.” It was then that Luana took over as Pepper’s first female branch manager.
On April 29, 1993, we moved to Fort Worth. We were written up in Music Inc. and the Fort Worth Star Telegram as having “the music showplace of the Southwest.” This location became the “hub” of music directors and was often busy with customers from early morning until late afternoon.
In December of 2009 we moved again but retained the open-door policy for our teachers in the area. We now have a fantastic reference center area and music store off 121/Airport freeway. Teachers from school districts all around the area meet frequently for staff development days. Customers have driven in from as far away as Arkansas, Louisiana and El Paso (you need to be Texan to get that joke!) The coffee pot is always ready — and the fridge is stocked with bottled water.
The most consistent aspects about Pepper of Texas are the long-term employees. Alan Kerr has been with the company for 20 years. He is the organist and music director at Faith Methodist Church in Fort Worth. Robby Chaplin has been with the company for 16 years. Robby is a musician and plays the guitar and sings. He is our representative at the Arkansas Music Educators Association conference each year. Anthony Carollo has been a member of the Pepper crew for 9 years and is also a guitarist. Many of you see him at TCDA handing out packets, or coordinating the packet staff. He is also our representative for the Louisiana Music Educators Association. John Borah, the “new” guy has been here for over 4 years. He has a degree in music theory and composition, and is an accomplished pianist. We have worked together for a long time and consider ourselves family. The support system and camaraderie among the crew is outstanding. Luana continues to lead the team in her role as manager and Pepper Vice President.
Our store is known for its Texas hospitality. We want all of our customers to feel completely at home. It’s not out of the ordinary for a customer to come and spend the day, putting their lunch in the fridge and making themselves some coffee. Teachers often meet up for after-school discussions on contest material and programming. The store allows people to have the peace and quiet needed to talk, listen to music and plan. Our philosophy is simple: you have enough stress in your everyday life — you don’t need more stress when you are trying to select music. It doesn’t matter if you call, use the internet or come in the door, we want your shopping with us to be as pleasurable as possible.
Ya’ll come see us!