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Franklin Dewey Marshall Sr., started the family business in Rock Hill in 1925.  Franklin Dewey Marshall Jr., took over during World War II; and now Dewey Marshall III, Wylie Marshall and Kris Brazzell carry on. 

Marshall Piano Co. was a furniture and piano business.  In the 70's the company phased out furniture. Dewey Marshall III started working for the company full time in 1965. After his father's death in 1998, Dewey and his brother, Wylie, became the co-owners.

In addition to selling new pianos, which range in cost from about $3,500 to about $50,000, Marshall Piano Co. buys, sells and trades used models and does restoration work on older pianos.

Customers mostly come from the 50-mile radius around Charlotte, though some pianos have shipped to Virginia and Tennessee. One even went to Las Vegas.

A busy day brings six to eight customers to the store. Slower days bring two or three. Some come in just to play. Sheet music sits on top of a few pianos, ready for anyone. Selections range from sacred hymns to the theme from "The Young and the Restless."

Famous shoppers

Sometimes customers have big names. Dewey Marshall has sold pianos to NASCAR great Jeff Gordon and Carolina Panthers wide receiver Mushin Muhammad, among others.

Muhammad sent his interior decorator, but Gordon came by the store in person.

"I asked him who's going to play it," Marshall said, recalling Gordon's visit in the mid-1990s. "He said, 'My wife and I are going to learn to play.'"

That plan apparently didn't pan out. Gordon returned to the store a year later.

"He said, 'Have you got one of those pianos that plays itself?'" Marshall recalled with a laugh.

The two worked out a trade, giving Marshall a celebrity piano to put on display.

"I had a good time showing off Jeff Gordon's piano," he said.

Despite occasionally crossing paths with the rich and famous, Marshall Piano Co. sells mostly to parents with children about to start piano lessons. Sales to churches and schools also are common.

Unlike shopping for a car, piano sales come pressure free at Marshall Piano Co.