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Daddy's Junky Music ends on a sour note after 39 years

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 26. 2011 11:23PM

Daddy's Junky Music, the 39-year-old company that flourished thanks to the New Hampshire Advantage, folded on Wednesday, a victim of the struggling economy and shifts to Internet sales, founder Fred Bramante said.

A page on the company website said the company ceased operation as of the close of business Wednesday. The company thanked customers for a wonderful 39 years.

At its closing Daddy's counted 12 stores in four states, including locations in Manchester, Nashua, Salem and Portsmouth.

Bramante said Wednesday was one of the worst days of his life.

'I had to tell people who had been working with me for decades they were losing their jobs, and it was heartbreaking,' said Bramante, a member of the state Board of Education.

He said the four New Hampshire stores employed 52 full-time workers and 14 part-time workers. The company also has stores in Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Bramante made his first guitar deal in 1972, when the lead guitarist of his basement rock band said his friend needed to sell a red Hagstrom 2 guitar to raise bail money.

Bramante knew the guitar was worth more than $600. He bought it, resold it and entered the world of music retail.

His business grew on the New Hampshire Advantage, as wannabe rocks stars flocked to New Hampshire from surrounding states to purchase instruments and amplifiers.

Financially healthy, Daddy's branched out into all New England states and New York. Recognition followed: New Hampshire retailer of the year, national retailer of the year and best service of any company in America.

Bramante's stature grew too. He ran for governor a couple of times in the 1990s, and he was an early advocate of a state education focused property tax.

But for the last three years, the company has struggled because of the sour economy, he said. And another tax-free entity started eating into its sales.

'The New Hampshire Advantage is real, it worked, but the Internet advantage is really similar to the New Hampshire Advantage,' he said. His stores in sales-tax states lost sales to the Internet.

And even in sales-tax free New Hampshire, the Internet does not need to locate in expensive real-estate in high traffic areas, he said. Local real-estate and construction suffer. And local charities and schools don't get the contributions from retailers.

He applauded California's efforts to force Amazon to collect sales tax.

'It really is an issue that needs to be dealt with. Eventually they are going to figure out this is a job killer,' Bramante said.

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