Sep. 25—ALBANY — In an era when businesses come and go, Portman's Music Superstore is celebrating its 85th anniversary in 2021.
From humble beginnings in downtown Savannah, Portman's evolved into one of the largest and most recognized providers of all things musical in the southeastern U.S. by remaining true to the Portman family's original innovative spirit and emphasizing music education. Still privately owned by Savannah's Portman family, Portman's Music Superstore now includes locations in Brunswick, Augusta and Albany, in addition to the corporate headquarters in Savannah.
As Portman's celebrates the milestone anniversary, owner Jerry Portman and his wife, Myra Portman, said they will revitalize a store motto that dates back to Jerry's grandfather: "Everything for the musician."
"Our first priority has always been taking care of the customers," Jerry Portman, who began working in the store as a pre-teen with his father, Ben Portman, in the 1950s, said. "Now what happens all the time is people I see will tell me I'm the guy who sold them their first horn. And they're still shopping with us because we treated them right. So now they bring their children and even their grandchildren to us."
Music education has consistently been one of the highest priorities for Jerry and Myra Portman and the Portman's stores, and each store has instructional studios as well as an impressive roster of instructors for a diverse variety of instruments. In Savannah, Portman's was instrumental in helping start band programs in virtually every public and private school in the area, and tens of thousands of student musicians have gotten started with an instrument and instruction from Portman's.
Originally, instrument manufacturers approached Ben Portman to ask for his help connecting with Savannah's schools, and Portman's has grown to become the primary musical equipment provider for band programs in schools in Savannah, southeast Georgia, the South Carolina Lowcountry, Augusta, Albany and Brunswick.
Music lessons have become an integral part of the Portman's experience. With more than 45 instructors, all of whom are working musicians, students can learn almost any instrument in a safe, friendly and professional environment.
"The thing I saw was we could have a positive effect in schools and helping children develop a love of playing a musical instrument," Jerry Portman said. "We helped start the band program for every private school in the city of Savannah as well as the schools in Bryan County and Effingham County. So we've been able to help that many young musicians get started, and now we're serving the third or fourth generation of some families."
As the music industry and business landscape has changed and been disrupted, Portman's Music Superstore has remained one of Georgia's leading music resources by continuing to adhere to the values that made the store great more than 80 years ago.
"We provide everything for the musician," Jerry Portman said. "That's really how the company grew."