Our 30th anniversary is a reminder to me that there is no substitute for hard work, perseverance and a great team. I was a 9 year old kid when this photo was taken. My parents have worked so hard to build Wildwood into what it now is. I remember when my Dad taught guitar lessons at our house, and my parents’ decision to rent a tiny little space downtown for his teaching endeavors. And then I remember the storefront carrying some accessories like picks and strings so that if a student broke a string during a lesson, they could buy a quick replacement. And then I remember other accessories like reeds and cleaning kits for woodwind instruments because the local middle school needed some support in this category. And then some student guitars. And then a few more.
I remember my Mom, Marilynn Mesple (Wildwood CEO) driving to the middle school to deliver a clarinet book to a 6th grader because her Dad had forgotten to pick it up, and she needed it for the jazz band class that day. And I remember my Mom mailing a dime to a customer that had accidentally received short-change… with a 24 cent stamp. I remember the cheesy brown metal “cash register” box that didn’t close all the way and the 70’s love seat where parents of students (or children of the owners) could wait and hang out reading Guitar Player magazine. My Dad was featured by Mike Varney around that time in the pages of GP. It brought me a proud feeling to see my Dad in those pages alongside other rock heroes.
The Bullet bass guitar on the far left in the top picture eventually became mine, and I played it in the Louisville Middle School jazz band a couple of years later than this picture. At one point I took bass lessons in this very store. I was attempting learning to play Steve Morse tunes and the theme from “Night Court”. The Louisville Times published a picture of me with a mullet outside this little room holding my “Thriller” skateboard alongside school buddies in an article documenting “unseasonably warm weather” in October of 1984 or 1985. Beebo’s Bookstore was right next door, and my brother and I frequently found great books to read there, or sneakily sold books
from my parents’ bookshelves in order to get money for video games at the arcade beneath Kevin and Rhonda’s bakery. The aroma of fresh baked donuts and bread was intoxicating.
I remember my first job picking up pony poo at a pony ride at the carnival that traveled through once a year in the parking lot behind Wildwood which is now a huge multi-story library and parking garage. Back then it was just a lonely parking lot, but during carnival time it was filled with sketchy opportunities to win posters of a Lamborghini Countach or Cindy Crawford in and American flag bikini if you were lucky enough to pop a balloon with a dart. It was like Heaven to a 10 year old. I remember the Blue Parrot burning down and the wall of heat I couldn’t cross with my red Schwinn bike no matter how hard I tried. I remember the curbs I could grind with my skateboard and the wall I could climb by the dumpsters out back. That wall is still there.
And this was all before Wildwood moved UPTOWN (around the corner to Main Street) – this was the tiny side building on Spruce street that now houses a workbench and some storage. This was when my parents rented the tiny space from a nice landlord who lived in Arizona and warned them, “you can’t start a business with $500 to your name…”. This was long before Wildwood owned the entire building and the trophy shop, the Public Service office (the local utility company) and bookstore had to move out to make room for Wildwood’s expansion. I remember when Jimmy, the founder and owner of the Double Happy Chinese Restaurant, took guitar lessons from my Dad in this small space primarily so he could fine tune his English speaking chops, and learn a few folk songs, and how Jimmy later hired me as a dishwasher, I was honored and able to buy a lot more Lamborghini posters than before when it came carnival time.
But what I remember most about these years is that my parents worked so hard, sacrificed so much, and were never lazy for one minute. To see that all this hard work and integrity has paid off to the point where Wildwood sits as a landmark in the music retail industry, an innovator in the world of high end guitars, and a beacon of business success in our tiny little hometown of Louisville, CO is a beautiful thing. I’m proud to have witnessed the slow and humble rise to success from the most ragged beginnings. Wildwood is the American Dream.
I am in awe.
-Taylor Mesple (son of Steve and Marilynn Mesple, and Director of Strategic Marketing for Wildwood)