By Michelle Loeb

Who’s that with Maverick and Iceman? It’s Jim DeStafney!

Who’s that with Maverick and Iceman? It’s Jim DeStafney!

After 28 years as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy, Jim DeStafney would have been more than within his rights to live out a peaceful and leisurely retirement at his home in Pensacola FL. But retirement was the furthest thing from his mind. Two years before he left the Navy, DeStafney made the decision to open up a music store in his local community. “For most of my Navy career, I had assumed I’d simply take a job as an airline pilot, like most of my contemporaries were doing,” he recalled. “However, every time I went into a music store, I felt extremely attracted to the prospect of owning and operating my own music store.” That dream officially became a reality in August 1997 with the opening of a 1,200-square-foot guitar shop called Blues Angel Music.

Blues Angel Music
657 N. Pace Blvd
Pensacola, FL 32505
(800) 823-6302
Mon-Fri: 9am to 7pm
Sat: 9am to 5pm
Sun: 11am to 4pm
Jim DeStafney, President

So how did DeStafney—who had no prior business experience and who had only recently picked up a guitar for the first time since high school—prepare himself for a second career in MI? For starters, he studied a lot. He read a lot of small-business magazines, guitar magazines, musical instrument repair books and lots more to put together a strong business plan for his store. He also watched Dan Erlewine’s guitar repair course video and procured “a seemingly never-ending supply of broken guitars from local pawn shops” to learn his trade. DeStafney also saw the value in learning from some of his contemporaries in the area. In particular, he befriended a music store owner in Panama City FL named Mark Swindell and, for two years, DeStafney “would stop by his shop almost daily to observe how he ran the shop and pick his brain on any and every subject relating to running a music store,” he said. “I owe Mark an incredible debt of gratitude for spending so much time with me over those two years.”

When Blues Angel Music opened, it was the only guitar specialty retail and repair store in an area that was being serviced by two major full-line stores and two smaller full-line stores. Modeling his store after places like Daddy’s Junky Music and Music Go Round, DeStafney’s business was also the only one specializing in used instruments, immediately setting him apart from the competition. The store opened with 45 used guitars and 20 used amplifiers, in addition to basic guitar accessories. The store also had a section for CDs and offered mobile DJ services for weddings and parties, with DeStafney serving as the store’s DJ, as well. Soon after, DeStafney hired two guitar teachers and brought aboard “an extremely talented amplifier/electronics tech,” John Landgraff, who would go on to become the renowned builder of Landgraff pedals and amplifiers.


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