Eastbourne’s best known music store is marking 45 years of trading with a move to bigger, modern premises as the business continues to grow despite the pandemic.
Bonners was opened as a small shop in Ivy Terrace in 1976 by musician Peter Bonner, who was a resident act at the Kings Country Club working alongside famous names such as Neil Diamond, Tom Jones and Dusty Springfield.
The popularity of Bonners meant more space was soon needed and it moved to a larger space next door, followed by a second shop in Grove Road in the 1980s.
Over the years, Bonners has gone from strength to strength with a further move to Langney Road in 2005 to accommodate the ever-expanding business.
Tony White had a stint of work experience at Bonners aged 14 and ‘absolutely loved it’. This was quickly followed by a Saturday job, when he would often be tasked with promoting pianos in the Arndale Centre, then a full-time position throughout the 1990s. In 2000, he took over the company with his business partner Myke Edwards who had joined Bonners in 1990.
They have since opened two new Bonners stores in Reigate, Surrey, and in Milton Keynes, and are now overseeing the latest move of the flagship Eastbourne store to an 11,000 sq ft, two-storey building in Faraday Close, near Morrisons Hampden Park.
Tony said: “Our new Bonners site is a perfect fit, providing more space to display the beautiful instruments we sell and for customers to try them out, as well as offering new facilities such as a guitar and amp testing booth, video suite, an extended guitar workshop and increased ranges across the major brands.
“I’ve seen huge changes in the way our customers shop, and this move reflects those developments. We are keeping the guitar store and piano centre, both staffed by our experienced and helpful team, under one roof – but in a more open, relaxed setting away from the hustle and bustle of the town centre.
“With 20 parking spaces and excellent road access, it is much easier to get here by car, and Hampden Park railway station is just a short walk away. Our new Bonners store complements our online offer, allowing us to continue giving the first-class service we are known for to existing customers and welcoming in new people who want to try instruments before buying and benefit from our specialist knowledge.”
Bonners, which employs 20 full-time staff across its three stores, saw piano and guitar sales soar during lockdown with parents buying them for at-home children and people taking up the instrument as a new pastime and for mental health benefits.
The Eastbourne store has the largest selection of acoustic pianos, digital pianos and keyboards south of London.
Christina Ewbank, chief executive of Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce, said: “Bonners is one of Eastbourne’s great success stories and I am delighted this well-established business has continued to thrive and adapt despite the difficulties posed by Covid-19.
“I wish the Bonners team well in their new Eastbourne home.”
With photo of Bonners staff outside their new premises in Faraday Close with Myke Edwards at front with guitar and Tony White at piano.