About Northwest Musical Services
Established in 1968, Northwest Music was started as a local source for professional instruments. Prior to that time many serious musicians had no choice but to travel to large US cities to find a quality instrument.
Bill Stonier joined the company soon after its inception. Bill played sax in various local dance bands so he was well known in the music community and had previous experience running a company having started Triad Leasing; a car-buying service for teachers. He had also been an educator and band teacher for several years in the Fraser Valley. The company drew heavily from his experience.
During his time as a band teacher, Bill’s school district had sent him on annual trips to Seattle to buy band music for his program. At that time, no local Vancouver music store stocked a significant amount of school band music. Recognizing a need, Bill started the educational music department of Northwest Music.
Bill’s solution was to buy a retired city bus... and fill it full of more band music than anyone in Canada had ever seen.
He soon realized that his office, which was shared with Triad Leasing, was not large enough to contain both businesses. Always an innovator, Bill’s solution was to buy a retired city bus, replace the seats with shelving and fill it full of more band music than anyone in Canada had ever seen. “The Bus” was Canada’s first and only mobile music store. Bill and the bus began visiting school band programs across Vancouver and the local region, then throughout B.C. and finally several trips across Canada.
Eventually the music bus and Bill became so well known and demand so great across western Canada that it was time to put down roots. Northwest Music moved into its long-time home at Oak and 7th Avenue in Vancouver, and Bill hired another driver for the bus (Wife Maureen had long since taken over Triad Leasing due to his absence).
Soon after moving to its new location, Northwest Music expanded its band instrument department to include student instruments. Instrument rentals soon followed, and Northwest set the new standard with the introduction of the exclusive Rental/Purchase Plan; 100% of rent was applied to instrument purchase with no penalty if returned. Northwest also implemented its Guaranteed Buy-Back Plan; 100% refund if the instrument was returned, less rent for each month of ownership - an industry first. These plans plus the policy of only offering high-quality student instruments set the band rental market on its ear, and Northwest Music continued to grow. A band instrument repair department was soon added, and a string instrument department a few years later.
The Northwest Music Choral Department was started for much the same reason as the band music division; there was no local store that stocked choral music in any quantity. Members of the local choral community approached Bill and asked him to bring in good quality choral music and classroom materials much as he had done for band music. The choral department quickly grew to be a vital part of the company.
Just after moving into its Oak and 7th Avenue location, Northwest Music hosted its inaugural band music reading sessions. Highlighting new concert band publications and featuring top level arrangers and composers to lead the sessions, it quickly became a “must attend” annual event for band teachers looking for new materials. Music teachers from all over western Canada attended. In August 2011 we celebrated our 40th consecutive Annual Reading Sessions and Clinics which for the past 35 years have been expanded to include Concert Band, Jazz Band, Church Choir, School Choir, Community Choir and Classroom Music sessions over 5 days every August.
... Northwest Music is a company for musicians run by musicians.
In 1995, Northwest Music moved into its current home at 1991 Main Street in Vancouver. The newly-renovated building was a big change from the warehouse-style building that it had occupied for the previous 25 years. The music community followed and the company continued to grow, building relationships with music teachers, student and professional players, churches, community groups and other institutions involved in making and teaching music.
Bill Stonier passed away on Dec. 2, 2012, but his ideals remain a vital part of the company. His son, Jeff Stonier, is now President and General Manager, but apart from modernizing the operational side of the business, very little has changed since the company started. The original mission of providing our customers access to quality music, instruments and other music related products is still our number one goal.
Just as the Bus brought music to our customers in the 1970s, our website transports our store to you.
Our talented and committed staff have been, and continue to be, a large part of our company’s success. Most are highly trained musicians who still perform and teach. Our customers often remark on the depth of musical knowledge displayed by our staff. As has been the case since the company started, Northwest Music is a company for musicians run by musicians.
Now the evolution of Northwest Music is continuing with the release of our newly-redesigned online store. Just as the Bus brought music to our customers in the 1970s, our website transports our store to you. We hope you enjoy the experience!