- Kristina Webb Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
When Donna Willey received a letter from Citibank saying the chain was closing its branch outside the Mall at Wellington Green, her reaction was opportunity, not disappointment.
“I thought, ‘This is the spot,’” Donna said Monday from the former bank location, which now is home to the expanded Village Music, a store that offers instruments, lessons, rock and roll camps, repairs and even a cafe.
Donna owns and operates the store with her husband, Steve.
The pair moved into the space in early October, moving up to 4,000 square feet from Village Music’s 1,800-square-foot spot in the Fresh Market plaza just a mile west. It gave the couple the ability to add more lesson rooms, a performance space and a cafe.
“It’s big jump, but we outgrew that space,” Donna said. In the month since opening, Donna, Steve and their roster of more than a dozen music teachers have added about 30 students, bringing their total to 350.
They teach a variety of ages — “We get a lot of retired people in here, just wanting to explore,” she said — and ability levels, including children with special needs.
“We give our students a good theoretical foundation, but we keep it fun, too,” Donna said.
The instruments, sheet music and accessories are joined by Village Music’s new cafe, which serves Kona coffee and a variety of organic wines, flat breads, pastries, sandwiches and salads. The most popular item is the charcuterie board, Donna said.
She expects the cafe combined with the new performance space will draw people, who may then be interested in picking up an instrument for the first time.
“We know that there are people out there who are going to come in here and be inspired,” she said.
Should inspiration strike, Village Music offers open mic nights. Every Friday at 7 p.m., anyone is welcome to perform before the main act, which occasionally will be Steve Willey himself.
Steve has been a live-music mainstay in Wellington, performing each Friday at Backstreets Bar and Grill for the past five years. He will rotate with a roster of fellow pros: Last week, blues guitarist Rob Arenth took the stage before a packed house.
The opportunity to perform in an intimate space and as a warm-up to a bigger act serves as an incentive to students, Donna said. “It gives the lessons a lot more meaning if they’re working toward something,” she added.
The store is hosting a free ukulele workshop at 7 p.m., Wednesday. Guests are welcome to bring their own ukuleles or use from the store. Donna said the ukulele is a good gateway instrument: fairly easy to learn, and fun to play.
“We want to be more than just a store,” she said. “We want to be a community music center.”
Where: 10410 Forest Hill Blvd., Wellington
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Information: 561-798-5334, www.villagemusicwellington.com