Nelms family purchases Ben Jacks, plans move to larger location on College Avenue

The former Adventure Subaru building at 2781 N College Ave. will soon be home to a music store called Sunrise Guitars, the new name by the new owners of Ben Jack’s Arkansas Music

Photo: Courtesy, Don Nelms

One of the oldest guitar shops in town is under new ownership, and will soon have a shiny new home.

Local businessman Don Nelms and business partners David Nelms and Roy Shorter have purchased Ben Jacks Arkansas Music, and plan to move the longtime Fayetteville music store into the building formerly home to Adventure Subaru on College Avenue.

The new owners also plan to rename the business Sunrise Guitars.

“We chose Sunrise Guitars because it represents new beginnings, and sunrises have been a consistent theme in my photography over the years,” said Don.

The store will continue to carry some of the iconic guitar brands that it has focused on for more than 50 years, including Fender, Gibson, Martin, Taylor, Gretsch, and Epiphone, Don said. David Nelms said the plan is to expand the store’s acoustic instrument offerings, as well as increase music lessons. The store will also continue to offer a full service repair department.

From left, Millie Nelms, Roy Shorter, David Nelms, Shirley Jack, Don Nelms, and Gary Burkhart pose for a photo after Don and his partners purchased the business.

Photo: Courtesy, Don Nelms

Ben Jack, a well-known pedal steel guitar player who toured with several established country acts in his day, opened Ben Jack’s Arkansas Music in 1965 in Fort Smith, before expanding to Fayetteville in the early 1970s. Jack passed away in 2009, and his wife Shirley and handful of dedicated employees have looked after the store since then.

Nelms said he expects several of those longtime employees to stay on board with the new store.

“The sales staff has decades of experience and will continue to be available to help people with their musical needs,” he said.

David Nelms told us that the new store is currently in the design phase, but he expects it will occupy about 6,000 feet of the 7,500-square-foot main building at 2781 N. College Ave. He also said there is about 6,000 square feet of garage space that could be used as a performance area for musicians.

“We’re still designing right now, so that’s kind of up in the air,” he said. “We’re really excited bout the possibilities, though.”

The store will remain open in the current space for now, with plans to move into the new building sometime within the next year.