Chuck Levin was an icon in the music industry. Not because he wowed stadiums full of fans or because he impressed audiences with moving concertos, but because he earned a reputation as one of the leading musical instrument retailers in North America over his more than 50-year career. You see, Chuck was a unique kind of guy. He had a passion for connecting people—from novices who play for fun to professional musicians—with the very best instruments at the very best prices. Chuck knew that musicians didn’t just use their instruments as tools, but in many cases developed an emotional bond with their guitar or tuba or drum kit—you name it.
Chuck’s story starts way back in 1958 when he and his wife Marge Levin opened their first shop at 12th and H Streets in downtown Washington, D.C. (Marge let him put his name on the building, as she was always quick to point out!). It didn’t take long before the store earned a reputation as a must-visit destination for any serious musician passing through the nation’s capital. By 1960 Washington Music Center become an example of honest opinions, reliable advice, personal attention to detail, good will, and customer satisfaction matched with huge inventory and great prices.
Chuck and Marge's reputation grew quickly in the early days of the store. By forming strong partnerships with the biggest names in the music industry they were able to impact many lives of the musicians in the D.C. area. Here you can see William F Ludwig with Chuck and Marge (photo courtesy of Music Trades Magazine). Everyday we have one of our customers mention their fond memories of our first store.
In April 1968 as riots following the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. tore through the city’s inner core, the store was razed to the ground. The Levin Family made it out safely, but the store and all its contents were lost.
The local community was determined to keep Chuck’s alive, so with their help, the store was reopened just four months later at its current location on Veirs Mill Road in Wheaton, Maryland. Chuck’s soon gained prominence as the industry’s top independent music store.
The modest mom and pop shop became a DC institution. No musician could pass through DC without a stop at “Chuck’s.” To date, Chuck Levin's is the D.C. Metro Area's only source for Everything in Music.
Chuck’s is truly a family operation, and a great deal of our success is directly attributed to the close working relationship of this family. Following the passing of Chuck and Marge, their two sons, Alan and Robert, and daughter, Abbe, took over stewardship of the company
Chuck’s continued to grow and prosper continuously each and every year since it’s inception, winning top sales awards from several of the biggest manufacturers and publications in the music industry.
The Levin family has "adopted" its fair share of employees over the years, making it one of the most unique places to work. Alan Levin continues to proclaim that "our employees are family" and the evidence is everywhere. The average tenure for our sales staff more than ten years, in an industry that is ever-changing that is no small feat. Through our continued commitment to our customers and to supporting music around the globe, we've extended the Levin family far beyond the borders of our walls.