SALEM — A Salem institution closed abruptly Wednesday, leaving a hole in the local music scene.
Fred Bramante started Daddy's Junky Music in 1972 with $600, selling guitars and other instruments at a small store in Salem.
The business took off from there, and Bramante went on to open 12 stores in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut, eventually becoming the 14th-largest music retailer in the United States. The business also won numerous awards, including New Hampshire Retailer of the Year in 2005.
But it was hit hard by the economy and Bramante had to shut the doors this week.
"This is one of the worst days of my life," Bramante said. "I'm brokenhearted."
Bramante said he could not get into specifics about why the stores closed because of pending legal issues.
The abrupt closure was a surprise to many, including town planner Ross Moldoff. He said Bramante didn't inform the town the store at 373 S. Broadway was closing.
"It was a quick thing, they informed the employees and that was it," Moldoff said. "They just shut the doors."
Moldoff said he knew Bramante well and used to play basketball with him at the local Boys and Girls Club years ago.
"Freddie is a great guy," Moldoff said yesterday. "It was a great local success story and it's sad to see it go, but that happens a lot in our changing economy."
It means another empty storefront in Salem, something Moldoff has been working hard to fill with new businesses.
"Slowly ,there are businesses coming into vacant stores in Salem," he said. "Lord and Taylor is going into the Macy's building and we've had proposals for a lot of different businesses going into existing stores. We still have a ways to go; there are still a lot of vacancies out there."