RICHMOND, Va. -- You won’t find a single palm tree. No rolling waves, pineapples or surfers. But at this spot you always hear sounds of paradise.
Genie and John Gonzalez Del Solar are owners of Fan Guitar and Ukulele. The couple is stringing together success selling the tiniest of instruments.
“If you asked me eight years ago if I would have had a ukulele shop in Virginia. I would have said you’re crazy,” said John. “It’s the soundtrack to where the ocean meets the land.”
Their Fan Guitar and Ukulele hums with activity.
“It’s called the happy Instrument. It’s really fun. It’s easy to learn,” said Genie. “Sometimes we drive home and say can you believe we even have this store?”
The instrument most closely associated with the South Pacific will always hold a special place in their hearts and ears.
“It’s one of the only instruments you can put in someone’s hand and not feel fear,” said John.
Genie and John met and married on Oahu. It was love at first sight and sound.
“You can play anything on it. I love when my husband plays classical music on it,” said Genie.
They moved to the east coast six years ago to be closer to their families. But the couple packed the sounds of paradise too.
The Gonzalez Del Solars initially studied to be traveling nurses, but after opening their music store on a whim in the heart of VCU, their store quickly found a loyal following.
“There is a buzz down here which is super cool,” said Genie.
“We started small and since then we’ve grown and grown and grown,” she added.
The Ukulele always provides an escape for returning customers like James Maxwell from Newport News.
“Yeah I’ve been once before. I bought a ukulele six months ago,” said James. “The trouble is my wife likes it so much its hers now,” he said with a laugh.
“It feels like you’re on the beach. You get a Hawaiian feel. You get strumming the right way,” James added.
After an impromptu jam session, James, purchased a new toy.
Six years in John, Genie and their store mascot Ziggy are stringing together unimagined success.
“I think if you constantly follow the love of learning it will lead you down the most interesting path of your life and if you do that you’ll never be bored, and you’ll always know where to go,” said John.
Harmony is in the air at Fan Guitar and Ukulele.
“I think we’ve created this homey cozy feel. You know,” said Genie.
Five thousand miles from Hawaii the sounds of Aloha are washing up on the shores of Main Street.
“The way I perceive it is that I punched the clock once in 2012 and haven’t clocked out since then,” said John.
For fans of the ukulele, the Uke Fest VA 2018 will be held on Saturday, November 3rd at the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen.
If you know of someone with an interesting story to tell email Greg McQuade.