UPDATE October 2020: Ownership of Cripple Creek has returned to former owner Peter Boyle.
A combination of getting older and not touring due to COVID-19 led musician Mike McAvan to follow his heart north and purchase Cripple Creek Music.
“I’ve been touring with my band, Gypsy Rose, and many bands before that and it was a case of I’m 49 and going to be 50 in October,” said McAvan. “About 15 or 16 years ago I was on a tour with Dimebag Darrell and one day we were sitting in a parking lot having drinks after a show, and he goes, ‘ya know we’re not getting any younger. Our hair’s going to get grey, some people’s falls out, and we’re gonna get fat. All I want to do is buy a little music store or pawn shop and watch the world go by’. So that sort of planted a seed in me. My last tour was just before Christmas.”
Around that time he was also put on a dating site, which he hated until he stumbled across his now partner Jill Taylor.
“Ten minutes before I was going to shut everything down she messaged me back and we went on a date. It just blossomed,” he said.
At the time McAvan was travelling a lot for work and was based out of Toronto.
“I had perpetual jet leg and just wanted to put some roots down,” he said. “I was up here three or four times a week. I wanted to be closer to her. Small towns have a certain charm and there was the added bonus that she was here.”
He sold his house and happened to see a for sale sign on Cripple Creek Music while running errands. He decided to put an offer in.
McAvan plans to make a number of changes to the store to make it a place where people want to gather, following COVID-19 restrictions of course.
“There’s a bit of a tornado of emotions that happen when you do this. I was making good money touring and doing sessions, now I’m a sole proprietor and responsible for an employee, who I think the world of—Julia Jones, Jill’s daughter,” he said. “It’s going to be a very different experience. I wanted a lot of input from Julia because she’s young, smart, sociable, and incredibly personable. I want it to be a place people can hang, where they can come in and experience something. Not everything I have in here will be for sale, but people are more then welcome to try it out and I can help guide them to that product or something else. I want to give back to the community. I want it to be the pinnacle that this store should be, that goes for purchasing and having a place people can express themselves.”
McAvan wants to build a sound studio in the store, along with an isolated lesson room, bring in local musicians’ CDs and shirts, and create a space where people can hangout in the store.
“I want to support independent artists, bring in musical lifestyle gifts, from books to merchandise. I want it to be a creative, nurturing space for youth, elderly, the community in general, the arts,” he said. “It’ll bring in an element of non-musicians buying gifts for musicians. I’ve worked in a lot of music stores and I want to do something different. There was always a bit of soul missing. I’m not going to go up against the big music stores but it’s going to be all about service, service, and more service and making people comfortable.”
Once the store is able to offer music lessons, McAvan will have himself and another teacher, Nathan DaSilva, available to teach those interested in learning to play.
Opening a business during COVID-19 has McAvan nervous.
“I have a friend who actually had COVID and was in a coma for five days and on a respirator for a month. So that makes me nervous, but we’re taking precautions. We ask people to wear masks, we have hand sanitizer at the front and by the counters,” he said.
Cripple Creek Music is located at 15 Chaffey St., Huntsville. Stop in and welcome McAvan to Huntsville. You’ll be greeted by his shop sidekick, Gunner.
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