ASHEBORO — Tony Hoover has announced his retirement and will close Monroe’s Music & Jewelry sometime in mid-January.
On Dec. 27, he posted this message: “After 63 years in business, Monroe’s Music & Jewelry of Asheboro NC will be closing the doors in January. Owner (for 35 years) Tony Hoover has decided to retire.”
Born the same year that G.L. Harris opened a retail store at 322 Sunset Ave., Hoover went to work for Monroe Herring in 1986. In 1987, he bought the store from Herring and has kept it going for the past 34 years.
Harris had featured a wider range of products, including bicycles, sporting goods, guns and cookware. Herring took over the store in 1960 and focused mainly on musical instruments and supplies as well as jewelry. He changed the name to Monroe’s in 1965.
The 3,520-square-foot building was erected in 1940, according to the Randolph County GIS. Hoover thinks it may have once been a Chevrolet dealer.
“On your deathbed, you don’t ask for more money. You ask for more time.” — Tony Hoover
“I’ve been blessed to be here this long,” he said. “But I felt like it was time to step back. I’ve learned that money can’t keep you alive.
“On your deathbed, you don’t ask for more money. You ask for more time.”
Prior to becoming a store owner, Hoover played guitar for 12 years in a rock band called Sure Shot, traveling the Southeast. He also became adept at sound systems, doing both live sound and system installations in churches.
“I’ve been doing live sound for years,” he said. “I worked with many country stars in the ’80s and ’90s. Now I work with (local band) Bantum Rooster.”
As mementos of his time with recording artists, Hoover’s store displays dozens of photos of stars, many autographed. From George Jones to Reba McEntire to Marty Stuart to Lee Greenwood, one of his walls is like a country music hall of fame.
Hoover said that he once worked with Louise Mandrell, a classic beauty who had him mesmerized. During a break at rehearsal, he left his sound equipment to use the men’s room. When he returned, he found Mandrell standing over and looking at his levers and buttons.
“When I came up she told me, ‘I didn’t touch anything.’ I was thinking, ‘Honey, you can touch anything you want.’ ”
If retail sales and sound systems isn’t enough, Hoover also has a brand of drums and guitars that go under the name TGD — Thank God Daily. Those instruments are made in China and he often has to fly out to the manufacturer.
He also sells acoustic guitars named for M.H. Herring, his mentor. Those were made when Herring was still alive.
“The business world has totally changed,” Hoover said. To illustrate, he said when Herring owned the story, the Fender company paid him to sell their guitars. “Now you have to pay them so much a year for authorization to be a Fender dealer.
“The internet has changed everything. Then with COVID, everything changed. I went from five employees to just me with fewer hours for a year.”
His nephew now works at the store and had planned to buy the business — until he received a job “offer he couldn’t refuse.” Hoover said he has received some interest in the store, but nothing definite.
In retirement, he said, he plans “to still do live sound and installs in churches.” He’s learned over the years that “if it sounds bad, blame it on the band.”
Running a small retail store is a full-time job, Hoover indicated, especially during the Christmas shopping season. “It runs you to a frazzle and I can’t enjoy being with my kids because I’m worn out.”
He said he worked 14-16 hours a day for 35 years, including sound work after hours. Hoover credits his sister, Kathy Hoover, “who worked for me for 29 years. She ran the place while I was out of town.”
After retiring, Hoover expects to spend more time with his wife Teresa, three grown daughters — Sarah, Rachel and Regina — and his three grandchildren.
And he hopes to resume volunteer work that he’s been too busy for with his job.
“My heart is to help people, but I’ve neglected it over the years,” Hoover said. “I used to help at the Y so I may go back to coach. And I want to spend more time doing things at church.
“After I close, if nobody buys the store, I’ll sell products online.
“Music has been my life,” he said. “Sound is really my love.”