Jennie Lowry is a woman who wears many different titles: mom, business owner, community volunteer and radio DJ.
Lowry was born in Mount Airy and into the music industry. It wasn’t long after her birth that her father, Jimmy Lowry, was chosen to tour with Donna Fargo. Jennie, her father and mother moved to Nashville, Tennessee. “It was all about the chance for fame,” said Lowry.
Although Lowry owns Olde Mill Music store, located in downtown Mount Airy, she claims her love of music was not influenced by her father’s career in show business.
“No matter how good you are, there’s 50 more people out there better than you,” said Lowry. Growing up in Nashville, she saw the best of what the music industry had to offer. Lowry recalled seeing people who were homeless standing on the street corner performing. Those people had chosen to do whatever was necessary, even becoming homeless, on the slim chance of becoming part of a dream. “Seeing those people, made me realize I didn’t want that kind of life.”
About the same time Lowry came to this realization so did her parents. Lowry’s grandfather had fallen ill, back home in Mount Airy. It wasn’t long after their move back home that her grandfather died.
While her parents settled in the town — her mother was a music teacher in the Surry County school system and her father a retired musician — Lowry graduated from high school and began waiting tables at various restaurants in town throughout the years including Snappy Lunch, Ray Starlight and Goobers.
It was while working at Goobers that a broker approached her and said he had a business proposition for her and her father, buying Olde Mill Music.
“I thought he was crazy,” said Lowry. She was young, no degree and waiting tables and her father was in retirement. After telling the broker she would think about the idea, it didn’t take her long to decide.
“It was like the stars aligned for me,” to become the owner of Olde Mill Music.
Lowry sealed the deal around Christmas of 2004 and took over ownership beginning January 2005.
After Lowry and her late father assumed ownership of the business, they decided to keep Rick Caudill, a long-time employee of the previous owner, on the staff.
It wasn’t long before that led to a relationship between the two and soon thereafter Rick and Jennie married. Now, the pair own the store and, along with Jennie’s mother Sylvia, as well as Larry Bullen, make up the staff at Olde Mill Music.
The couple also has three children, James 8, Madeline 7 and Rickie 3. All three play music in their church, with James already playing four instruments.
The three children are home schooled and stay with Lowry during the day at the store. According to Lowry, they are great helpers in the store. James, her oldest, even helps with customers.
Olde Mill Music has been serving the greater Mount Airy area since 1992. The business specializes in musical instruments, music literature, accessories, music related gifts, instrument repair as well as music lessons.
Olde Mill Music and Sound also installs and maintains sound systems in churches and schools and other venues, a service the company have been providing to the region for more than 20 years.
All of the staff at Olde Mill Music are musical. Lowry’s mother is a former music and drama teacher at North Surry High School. Lowry plays several instruments and in addition to working at Olde Mill, is employed by WPAQ 740am where she hosts the weekly Merry Go Round broadcast and works as a DJ. Rick plays bass in several groups and also runs sound for many functions.
The lesson studios at Olde Mill Music have six music instructors offering lessons on a variety of instruments including guitar, bass, drums, piano, voice, mandolin, ukulele, harmonica, and banjo in a private or group setting for all ages and skill levels. Lessons are given during business hours as well as in the evening.
School band programs in the region also benefit from the care and expertise of the Olde Mill Music family. The company carries a full line of band instruments for purchase as well as a rent to own program through National Educational Music Company.
“Students have the opportunity to get their hands on the instruments,” which is especially important since some children may never have had the opportunity to see or touch an instrument before. “We don’t mind if customers want to try out our products,” says Lowry. “In fact, it’s encouraged that customers try out instruments, before a purchase is made.”
The business relocated from N.C. 89 to downtown in the spring of 2011, to the former Dry Bridge Station and Boyles Shoes building in the 200 block of Main Street. Since the relocation Lowry began amping up her volunteer efforts and serves in the Mount Airy Downtown Business Association, Mount Airy Museum of Regional History and Mount Airy Downtown Inc. “I have a love for the history of this town,” said Lowry.
Lowry and her family plan to continue their family business on Main Street for as long as possible. Lowry and her family invites everyone to stop by, “We have been helping people of all ages create and enjoy music since 1992.”
Reach Eva Queen at (336) 415-4739 or Twitter @MtAiryNewsEva