WHEN Alan Smith left his job as a distribution manager he wondered if he had made the right decision.
Going it alone at Warrington Market, all he had was his love of music, a repair bench and a desire for a fresh start.
That was seven years ago and now when you talk to him about his journey setting up A to G Music you will see a wide smile on his face.
Alan, who is also in a soul and motown band called Soul Searchers, said: “I’m always doing something with a guitar. To get to a point where you’re always doing something that you love is a great feeling.”
The former Sir Thomas Boteler student now has a musical instrument shop, with a keen focus on guitars, and a repair business at the new Warrington Market.
He has around 80 guitars in the unit at any one time as well as violins, mandolins, ukuleles and accessories for drums.
But the ‘dream’ shop in the £11million market came from humble beginnings.
Alan added: “The business started in the market in 2013. It was just me and a repair bench and about 12 packets of strings.
“I’ve got a musical background in performance but I used to be a distribution manager at a company.
“I wanted to take my life in another direction. I took what I loved and decided to become a music retailer.
“Then when the new market plans came along, we really got into the idea of having a bigger space. We’ve had two smaller shops now so this was do or die.
“Coming here was the ultimate aim. The new shop has come about at a very difficult time but it was a dream and it seems to be paying dividends.
“The old market was tired, it had seen its day, but I think this building is amazing. It’s a plan that has been well thought out and executed.
“There’s been some negativity about its cost but if you come here and look around the difference is staggering.”
Alan used to get customers referred to him from Dawsons for instrument repairs.
The historic Sankey Street store closed in 2019 after more than a century in Warrington – leaving a gap that Alan hopes to fill.
The Latchford resident said: “We’re in with some big suppliers so we can get pretty much anything so we’re really trying to drop into that hole that Dawsons left in the town centre.
“It’s about getting the rarities and the oddities that you don’t normally see.
“It’s no good seeing the same guitar you’ll spot online over and over again. We always aim to offer something different.
“We actually did some repairs for Dawsons back in the day. They sent some people our way. That continues to be a big part of what we do.
“We also find older instruments that are broken and do them back up again for people to purchase.
“It’s not a bad life. You get to come to work every day and play around with guitars.”
Alan’s lifelong interest in music stems from his childhood.
He added: “I started taking a big interest in music after delving through my mum and dad’s record collection.
“I started learning guitar at about 13. Back then in the late 80s and early 90s there was a big Warrington music scene.
“There was Escape Committee with Pete Frampton and Pete Price was around a lot.
“I know Pete very well and we used to play at a club upstairs at the Cheshire Cheese. Burt Jansch played up there. I did the opening for that when I was 17 so I’ve always had that interest in music.”
Alan also saw an upturn in interest in his business during the lockdown.
He said: “We did a lot of things online. People had been picking up guitars and ukuleles as something to do while being stuck in the house.”