Lisa Turner Maddox considers herself a matchmaker.
At her family-owned piano store, she prides herself in pairing customers with the perfect piano or digital piano.
“We’re blessed. Because we’ve been in business since 1955, we pretty much have the piano or keyboard that suits their needs both musically and financially,” Maddox said. “I love to find out what it is they’re looking for and help them find it. It’s sort of like going shopping with your best friend when you’re on a quest to find the perfect dress.”
Locals can recognize Turner’s Keyboards at 2358 Washington Road by its colorful circus tent. Maddox co-owns the business with her brother, Ed Turner Jr., who is semi-retired.
Their parents, Edward B. Turner Sr. and Wylene Turner, started the business on Walton Way in 1955. Today, the full-service store sells new and used pianos and digital pianos, and also rents, moves, rebuilds, tunes and refinishes pianos. The store also buys pianos from people trying to downsize, increasingly popular during the economic downturn, and offers lessons.
Turner’s Keyboards also offers “the largest print music department in the Southeast,” Maddox said.
One year ago, Maddox and her brother opened a second location in Aiken Mall.
When their parents started the business, there were at least seven local piano stores, Maddox said.
“We’re the last ones standing. I don’t take that responsibility lightly. It makes us want to step up to the plate that much more,” she said.
Regardless of price, Maddox believes in offering quality.
“None of the piano lines that we represent are inferior pianos … You have to be awarded a franchise to sell pianos. They’re extremely particular about who they do business with because you’re representing their company,” Maddox said. “We’re blessed that we have Steinway, Boston, Essex and Kawai pianos and Kawai digital pianos. That’s thanks to our mom and dad starting us off right.”
Many piano stores aren’t that lucky because companies don’t like to award franchises to businesses in the same vicinity, Maddox said.
When their father retired in the early 1980s, the business was purchased by Maddox, Ed Turner Jr. and their siblings Karen Turner Morris and Jefferson C. Turner, now deceased.
“I know how proud they would be that we’re still here and enjoying what we do,” Maddox said.
Maddox started working at the family business when she was 15, cleaning pianos, performing basic repairs and assisting sheet music customers.
“My father could not play a note, but he could tune and rebuild a piano from top to bottom,” she said.
Their mother assisted customers and sold pianos. After studying business in college and getting married, Maddox handled finances and bookkeeping for the store.
Turner’s Keyboards moved to Washington Road in 1978 next door to its current location. They were preparing to remodel when Crazy Cecil’s Ice Cream Parlor went up for sale.
“When our dad told us he was going to buy the building door next door with the circus tent and all … we thought daddy had gone crazy,” Maddox said. “But in his perfect vision, it became a landmark and people knew where you were because of the circus tent. Now I have to laugh when I walk in every morning and look up and see this red, yellow, blue and green circus tent.”