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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Longtime passion finds steady beat: Founder transforms online vintage drum shop into brick-and-mortar

By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review

The clickety-clack of trains on a downtown railroad overpass pounds out a rhythm well suited to the nearby Rainier Drum Shop.

After initial success as an online store, the business that specializes in vintage drum sets opened a brick-and-mortar location earlier this summer.

Manager Josh Fry fell in love with the instruments as a teenager at Donn Bennett Drum Studio in Bellevue.

“They had an internship program and I worked in the parts shop, cleaning, repairing, buffing the hardware,” Fry said. “While working there, I acquired my first vintage drum – a pearlescent greenish-blue drum. I started adding to the set, and it snowballed.”

Fry said anything pre-1980s is considered vintage. The attraction of the older models is both the look and the sound.

“Drums age in patina,” he said. “And modern drums sound snappier. Older drums have warmer, more rounded tones.”

When he moved to Spokane in 2014 to attend Eastern Washington University, he began adding more drums to his collection, often selling some to purchase the others. After he graduated with a marketing degree, his side hustle ramped up when he discovered he could get better deals by buying in larger volume.

During the pandemic, Fry was laid off from his full-time job, so in 2020 he founded Rainier Drum Shop online and it took off.

“Everyone was stuck at home – especially musicians,” Fry said. “They got sick of their old stuff.”

He sold mostly on Reverb and Facebook, but the goal was always to open a physical location to buy, sell and repair drums.

When he met Logan Keith and Nic Powell, a partnership quickly evolved. Fry sold his inventory and intellectual property to Powell and Keith, which freed him to manage the store and do what he loves most – play and repair drums.

The roughly 1,500-square-foot downtown site features a display floor, workshop area and soundproof demo room.

Drums made by Ludwig, Slingerland, Gretsch and others fill the floor and line the shelves

.

“I’ve played every single drum in here, so I know what’s good for volume and sound,” Fry said.

His favorite manufacturer is Camco.

“They were only around for 17 years – most were made in the late ’60s,” he said. “They’re hard to find, but I’ve had four through the shop this year.”

The oldest drum in the shop is a Ludwig circa 1912. Fry also enjoys World War II-era instruments.

“They were mostly made of wood because metal was rationed during the war,” he said, pointing to a set made by Leedy.

While the shop’s focus is vintage, Fry said it does get newer models in and prices vary.

“Our inventory is always changing,” he said.

Cymbals, drumsticks, pedals, shakers, cowbells and other percussion accessories also are available, as well as Rainier Drum Shop merchandise.

“Ideally, we want to be a destination place and create a space that’s cool and inviting,” Fry said.

“We want to offer a great customer experience and a place where you can come in, hang out and nerd out over all the old stuff.”

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