Swicegood Music has spent the majority of its nearly seven decades in business on College Street in Beaumont.
When it relocated from the original downtown location, Swicegood and a 24-hour pig stand diner were the only businesses on the road.
It’s a scene difficult to imagine now, as Baptist Hospital and other health care offices fill the roadway, along with an H-E-B grocery store, pharmacies, endless fast food options, restaurants, gas stations and more fill the heavily-trafficked corridor.
The growth spurt brought in commercial realtors looking for more opportunities for developers and, as a result, multiple purchase offers to Swicegood Music owner Kurt Killion.
He’d always said no, even after Swicegood flooded during Tropical Depression Imelda.
“We were only closed a few days and could still do out-the-door sales for simple items like strings or reeds while cleaning up,” Killion said, adding, that inside, “it wasn’t pretty with a bare concrete floor and walls missing up a couple feet.”
But it was the very commercial growth on College Street itself that made Killion seriously consider his latest sale offer, now over a year ago.
The glut of traffic on the roadway, especially at lunchtime when popular drive-thrus like Chick-fil-A could tie up a whole lane of traffic flow, made getting in and out of the store more problematic.
And there was a growing issue with unhoused people staying in the area, most of whom Killion and employees had gotten to know over time.
“As a person, you feel for them, but as a business owner, it wasn’t good. Some customers were afraid to come in (if a homeless person was sleeping out front or hanging around),” he said.
When he’d arrive to find a person sleeping outside the storefront, he’d tell them they had to leave, saying, “’Look, I get it, but I’m trying to run a business here.’”
Then, the store was vandalized.
Reportedly, an unhoused man threw a brick through the store window and stole several guitars before police arrived at the scene.
The man was arrested and guitars recovered from nearby pawn shops, but the instruments had been damaged.
When Killion’s pice to sell Swicegood was accepted the next …….