Portman’s Music celebrates 85 years

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 10:45 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - In 1936, Savannah started sounding a lot better. That’s when Ben Portman opened his music store on Broughton Street and started teaching Savannah to play a variety of instruments.

Music education has been at the center of the business that Ben’s son, Jerry Portman, now operates, and this year, it’s celebrating its 85th anniversary.

Friday nights across the Coastal Empire could sound different if not for the Portman family.

“My parents started, and us also, many of the school bands you know of today,” said Jerry Portman, owner of Portman’s Music Superstore. “In Savannah, all of the public schools, in Beaufort County, South Carolina, all the way up to Statesboro and Brunswick and the different counties in the area.”

For 85 years, Portman’s Music has been behind a lot of the music year hear in Savannah, teaching private lessons and creating access to learning music at public schools.

“From the beginning, my parents were very interested in music education. We started selling guitars and acoustic instruments back in the ‘30s and ‘40s. In the ‘50s, some band instrument companies came to my father and said, ‘if I send some horns to you in August, would you rent them to the kids in September and send back the horns you don’t use?’”

And the business grew, along with the number of people playing, from a small store with a small inventory on Broughton Street to a 30,000-foot facility in midtown Savannah with flutes, clarinets, trumpets, saxophones, violins, violas, cellos and bass. And then they’ve got their guitar section.

“We’ve added on twice. We have a two-story warehouse and we also have stores now in Augusta, Brunswick, and Albany, Georgia,” said Portman.

And even after adding accessories, equipment, and one of the largest instrument-repair shops in Georgia, Jerry Portman has kept what his father taught him at the center of the company.

“My wife and I take pride in continuing the tradition that was started. We believe in music education, we believe in teaching students how to play...helping schools. We have more teachers than we’ve had in the history of the store. All of our teachers, even though they are teaching part-time, they have a college degree, a Masters degree or a doctorate degree, and every one of them sets a plan for the person who wants to take lessons that’s for them.”

Check out everything Portman’s Music Superstore has to offer by clicking here.

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