Joe Moser took an unfortunate job situation and turned it into a new business based on his love of music.
The result, 26 years later, is North Star Music, at North Avenue and 69th Street.
The storefront business sells a variety of acoustic and percussion instruments, including guitars, ukuleles, banjos and mandolins, and provides lessons in the store's basement for anyone wanting to learn.
Moser also repairs instruments.
From 1977 to 1991, he worked as a forklift operator and labeling machine operator at Miller Brewing Co. Regular layoffs were part of that work world, so Moser opened a store at North Avenue and 65th Street and named it North Star, combining North Avenue and rock star, before moving ot its present location.
Moser figured he would be better off as a business owner, especially drawing on his hobby as a record collector while he was growing up.
'When we started, we were a music store with records, tapes and CDs with a few instruments,' Moser said. 'Now we are an instrument store with no music.'
Along the way, he learned how to repair instruments and incorporated lessons. He has four instructors, three of whom teach guitar and one who teaches all the instruments.
Change is constant
Trends come and go, Moser said. These days, the ukulele is making a comeback. Moser has worked with music teachers in the Wauwatosa School District who have introduced the instrument in their classes.
'Ukuleles have been popular for about the past four years in our region,' he said. 'I guess you can call it a craze or revival. Some say it's the third wave. The first one was the 1920s, the second was the late 1950s and early 60s and this is the third one.'
Moser said he has learned to adapt.
'The thing I have learned about the music business is that it always changes,' he said. 'It becomes commercialized and young people reject the commercialization and find a way to make it fresh.'
Just like he refreshed his life's work.
'Back then, the wages and benefits in the brewery business were hard to walk away from,' Moser said. 'I still don't make what I used to, but I have a much higher level of satisfaction.'
BUSINESS: North Star Music
ADDRESS: 6831 W. North Ave.
PHONE: (414) 475-7576
OWNERS: Joe and Barbara Moser