Rockin' Robin Houston

Whether or not you’ve heard of Rockin’ Robin Guitars and Music (you should have), just know that your favorite music icon probably has. Rockin’ Robin is the place where The Dukes found their drummer, where the Geto Boys used to hang out after school, and where countless other musical careers were inspired.

Rockin' Robin Guitars owner Bart Wittrock plays a 1959 Les Paul Conversion guitar in his store Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 in Houston. After more than 45 years of being in business, Wittrock is putting the store on the market in hopes of finding a new and energetic owner. (Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle)
Rockin’ Robin Guitars owner Bart Wittrock (Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle)

But now, after 45 years, Rockin’ Robin’s owner Bart Wittrock, now 68, is calling it quits. He plans on retiring and splitting his time between Houston and California to surf. But before that, he’s hoping to find a new owner who wants to continue the music store’s living legacy.

While Wittrock isn’t revealing the asking price to anyone but serious buyers, according to the Houston Chronicle, the estimated value of the land and the store inventory alone are north of $1 million. While he isn’t setting many preconditions himself, his decades-long work speaks for itself in how important it is to preserve his legacy in the store.

Shawn Parks has run the Bojangles Music School in the store for the past few years and has seen his business triple since casting in with Wittrock.

Rockin' Robin Houston“Bart is a true American success story built by hard work and a love for what he does,” Parks told the Chronicle. “And that’s guitars. He’s a treasure of the Houston arts culture. People don’t realize how important he is to this city.”

Much of the store’s actual business lies not in selling guitars, but in repairing them. That’s where Wittrock’s experience really shines. He has a deft touch for making sure owners can get the best out of a guitar, no matter the perceived reputation of the brand or the experience of the guitarist. For a long time, the store has been able able to fix many a poor online purchase.

If you are interested in buying the store, there’s one other thing that you should know. Wittrock has expressed interest in hanging around as a guitar expert, at least when he’s around town.