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Selsor's Piano Showcase to close the lid in March

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by Melissa Wilson

SBJ Staff

The only used and rebuilt piano and organ store in the Ozarks will close its doors this month. At 80, owner Irvin Selsor decided to sell his entire inventory of vintage pianos and organs, some more than 100 years old.

Selsor found out in October that Walgreens purchased the building housing his store at 1155 E. St. Louis, which Selsor has rented since he started the business in 1988.

"We found out we were going to have to either move or shut down about four months ago. It's a shame this had to happen now because I've had to be in the hospital in St. Louis for surgery," Selsor said, although he is now recovered.

Greg Murdaugh, a piano rebuilder and tuner, is handling the close-out and said Selsor's collection of antique pianos and pump organs are now priced 30 percent to 60 percent lower than before.

"We're now just basically trying to get out what Mr. Selsor had invested in them," Murdaugh said.

Selsor began selling rebuilt pianos and organs full-time in 1990 when Grant Selsor & Sons Lumber Company, started by his father in 1936, burned. After his father, Grant Selsor, died in 1943, his mother and brothers ran the lumber company until Selsor took it over in 1952 after returning from military service.

Selsor, who holds degrees in math, science and business administration from Drury College and also attended Southwest Missouri State Teacher's College, (now SMSU), discovered his love for music when he learned to play by ear at 7.

"My mother was a piano teacher who wanted me to learn sheet music. She got frustrated and gave up trying to teach me when she could see I preferred learning by ear," Selsor said.

Selsor also played the violin at Jarrett Junior High and took up the guitar in high school while continuing to play the piano. A few of his favorite songs include "Stardust" and "Fascination" by Hogie Carmichael and "How Great Thou Art," although he said "you can't dance to a hymn."

Selsor's business philosophy is to always be fair to the customer. "I didn't try to sell up, I always tried to give a good deal for what the person wanted," he said.

Selsor's unique collection of used instruments allowed him to work with both students seeking relatively inexpensive instruments to learn on and antique collectors seeking vintage Chickerings and Steinways.

Selsor's Piano Showcase has nearly 100 models, including pump organs, pipe organs, upright pianos and modern used pianos.

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