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Pladd Dot: Big ideas, big location
Music store now in 7,000-square-foot N. Main building
120508 BIZ PLAID DOT 1 web
Ben Samples, 1, and dad Justin audition a drum set at the new Pladd Dot Music store on North Main Street. The Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for Pladd Dot Friday afternoon. Owners Ashlee and Chris Mitchell opened the 7,000-square-foot store in November. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
     Statesboro is home to a thriving music school founded by Chris Mitchell, a full-time music educator and accomplished performer. The former Southeast Bulloch High School music and chorus instructor recently moved his business, Pladd Dot Music, into a renovated 7,000 square foot building on North Main Street.
      Mitchell said the move represented the culmination of a vision that was hatched in 1996 when Mitchell and his friend Brian Hendrix formed Pladd Dot Music to oversee the business endeavors of Wallace Green (the band in which they recorded and released two albums).
      "We wanted to call the business Plaid Music, but we didn't like the spelling of plaid so we changed it to Pladd," Mitchell said. "The Dot part came from my pen which spit out a big dot of ink when I was writing Pladd one day on a flyer. That's when we became Pladd Dot."
      From those humble beginnings, Mitchell has pursued his dream of creating a music school, one that encouraged creativity, dedication, and having fun.
      "I taught at Southeast Bulloch for a few years after I graduated from Georgia Southern with a degree in music education," Mitchell said. "I was also giving private lessons after school. I had to make a decision between one or the other, and I decided to open my own music school."
      This is Mitchell's third location for school, each one larger than the previous one. On any given day, at any given time, students are coming in and out of the building to receive lessons from one of the school's seven instructors including Mitchell.
      "We knew about Chris through his wife Ashlee (Mitchell)," said Chuck Tapley. "When our son Cody wanted to take guitar lessons, we knew that this would be the best place for him. Chris does a great job with him. He is such a good teacher."
      Mitchell is in the final stages of equipping the school's recording studio which is located on the second floor adjacent to the school's nine instruction rooms. Mary Hannah Riggins is slated to oversee the operation of the recording studio when it opens in January.
      "It is sort of a rock star lifestyle in the hours that you keep," Riggins said. "We will not be using the studio while lessons are being given. So, it will be operational late at night. I will teach lessons in the afternoons, and run the studio at night. My day will begin at noon and end around three or four in the morning."
      Mitchell is known as an accomplished guitarist and noted for teaching guitar. He said that many people will be surprised to hear that much more than guitar is being taught at Pladd Dot.
      "Not only do we have guitar instruction, we also have drum, voice, and piano instruction," he said. "And, we will be introducing our 'School of Rock' which puts young, emerging artists into rock bands where they can learn to play as a group and learn the business side of playing music."
      As creative and enthusiastic as Mitchell is, he is very careful to maintain his dream as a business, one that runs on a very tight schedule that is closely monitored. In addition to the instruction side, Mitchell has a retail sales floor with guitars, drums, amplifiers, and related items.
      "Chris wanted to have instruments available for his students," said Mitchell's wife Ashlee Mitchell. "He wanted them to be good, reliable, and reasonably priced. That is why he put the retail side in."
      Mitchell admits that he did not realize the impact the retail side would have. "I thought it might be twenty percent of our business," he said. "I was wrong. It is over half of our business. It has been much more than I ever envisioned."
      Mitchell said he had as many 140 students taking lessons at his previous location on South Main Street, and it was quite a task to juggle that many students with the facilities that he had.
      "We now have 120 students in a much larger space, and that number is growing every day," he said. "We can comfortably accommodate as many as 200. I feel like we will reach that number, and that is so exciting. Pladd stands for Performance Learning Artistic Development Dedication. That is what we are teaching, and we are having a great time."
      Downtown Statesboro Development Authority board chairman Jayme Cartee said he is vey pleased that Mitchell decided to remain downtown.
      "That would have been a big loss had Chris chosen to move somewhere else," Cartee said. "This is a thriving business that brings so many people to downtown. We are thrilled that he renovated this building, and thrilled with his success."
      Mitchell has released two albums to date: wonderllamasoup-1996, / evandrool-1999. Mitchell's album the pieces of smalltown is currently in production and Mitchell's first book: Lessons for Life - a guitar instructional book will be in stores soon. Currently, Pladd Dot Music is publishing a lullaby album with Ashlee Mitchell. The album will feature many popular songs as well as traditional lullaby standards.
      Pladd Dot Music is located on North Main Street next to BB&T. To learn more about Pladd Dot Music you can visit there website at www.pladdmusic.com.