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On closing day, tears reveal Hawk Music as more than a store

Pat Paulus and Phil Hawk.jpg
Phil Gianficaro
On Friday, Pat Hawk Paulus and Phil Hawk closed Hawk Music, the store their late father founded 50 years ago at Westgate Mall in Bethlehem.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — As closing time for the final time approached Friday, Hawk Music co-owner Pat Hawk Paulus sat quietly behind the counter, holding a pen and notebook much better than she did her emotions.

Fifty years in business at Westgate Mall on Schoenersville Road in Bethlehem was nearing an end. The store her late father, William J. Hawk, founded in 1973 was a staple in the area.

The Hawk family hit all the right notes when it came to dealing with customers. Fair prices were accompanied by a welcoming smile.

From June 3, 1973, to March 31, 2023; from the Billboard chart No. 1 songs, “My Love,” by Paul McCartney and Wings to “Flowers,” by Miley Cyrus, Hawk Music at the mall was just fab.

  • After 50 years at Westgate Mall, Hawk Music closed its doors Friday
  • Hawk Music was directed to vacate because of planned mall redevelopment
  • The music store is being bought by another businessman, who plans to relocate it but retain the Hawk Music name

Now, after five decades selling and renting instruments and offering music lessons, Hawk Music at the mall is over.
Mall owner Onyx Equities notified the Hawks and several other businesses in January they needed to vacate because of redevelopment there.

And so the end neared.

'Bittersweet for us, but it's time'

Paulus lifted her head and surveyed the emptiness. She was asked what her father, who died in 2008 at age 84, would have thought of how she and brother, Phil, ran the business and treated customers.

She bowed her head and began to cry. She removed her eyeglasses and wiped her tears.

“He’d be so proud of us. He’d be so very proud.”
Pat Hawk Paulus, co-owner, Hawk Music

“He’d be so proud of us,” Paulus, 68, said, her bottom lip quivering. “He’d be so very proud.”

Phil Hawk looked at his sister and smiled.

“She’s right,” he said. “Dad would be so proud of us. Yep, no doubt. We treated people right.”

Hawk Music closing.jpg
Phil Gianficaro
Friday was moving day for Hawk Music at the Westgate Mall. The establishment was notified in January by mall owners the store needed to vacate to make way for redevelopment. Co-owner Phil Hawk, left, chats with a final customer.

Hawk Music at the mall is over, but Hawk Music will live on. Jason Marish will assume ownership of the business.

Marish plans to store all the instruments and equipment in a warehouse until he opens his music store somewhere in Bethlehem, Phil Hawk said.

“Jason’s going to keep the Hawk Music name, which means a lot to us,” Phil Hawk, 63, said. “Jason is a guy who has been doing our guitar repairs for a year. He did work for Martin Guitars and Guitar Center, but has decided to go on his own.

“When Jason heard two months ago that we had to move out of the mall, he said he’d like to take it over. I’m going to run the business end of it for him, but my sister is going to retire.

"This is all bittersweet for us, but it’s time.”

Name will live on

The Hawk Music red neon sign that hung outside the store has been taken down, placed in storage by Marish.

But the memories remain.

Paulus and Hawk talked about first working at the store for their dad; Phil was 13, Pat kept the books at 19.

They talked about changing music trends and enjoying when a kid would come to them to learn how to play. Generations choosing their establishment to help their music blossom.

“I’ll remember the connections we made with all those kids,” Phil Hawk said. “Some played in the high school band, and some played in their own band, and some just played at home.

“The last couple months, a lot of them came in to talk to us about learning here. That is very gratifying."

He said that on March 25, "We held Customer Appreciation Day. We had six hours of music in the store. Customers and friends came to listen to music and share memories. It was great.”

“I didn’t know a thing about guitar until I went to Hawk Music. Everything I know about music I learned in that store. I know hundreds of others who learned music there. I now have two bands of my own.
John Mooney, Hawk Music customer and student

John Mooney remembers.

Now 66, Mooney, of Allentown, recalled walking into Hawk Music at age 27 to learn to play guitar.

Hawk Music

“I didn’t know a thing about guitar until I went to Hawk Music,” he said. “Everything I know about music I learned in that store. I know hundreds of others who learned music there.

“I now have two bands of my own. One is called the Barn Byrners. The other is a band we started at work. It’s called The CSP Talent Group. We perform live to help destigmatize mental health issues. It all started for me when I went to Hawk Music.”

Closing time was approaching. Paulus said she tries to control her emotions by trying to persuade herself the music store is just a room with instruments.

But then admitted she knows she’s lying to herself.

Her tears were a clear giveaway.