The Piano Gal aims to strike a chord with music enthusiasts

Marta Hansen, The Piano Gal, offers sheet music, gifts, and used instruments on consignment.

With the opening of her first retail venture in downtown Sun Prairie, Marta Hansen, 33, is realizing a dream. As an artist and lifelong musician looking for a creative outlet, Hansen had long been frustrated by the lack of music stores in her area. “There was nothing convenient on this side of town for music enthusiasts,” she said.

There is now. The Piano Gal Shop is a retail music store offering sheet music, supplies, and accessories for all instrument types, as well as used instruments in working condition for sale on consignment.

In addition to a selection of music-themed gifts from local artists, the shop features gifts and artwork Hansen has repurposed from old sheet music, piano keys, or parts of other instruments. She makes bracelets from the bass strings of pianos, and necklaces, pendants, and ornaments from piano key hammers.

Then there’s the furniture. “Upright pianos are the perfect size for office desks,” she said. An old Victorian in her back workshop is a work in progress that she envisions transforming one day into a bar, complete with a mirrored back, wine rack, and quite possibly, a small wine refrigerator.

What the store might lack in inventory she promises to make up for with customer service and unusual fare. “If someone buys a piano here, I’ll tune it. Our gifts are unique. We don’t just have busts of Beethoven.”

Lessons learned

Hansen graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in music education and taught music for six years. She decided to stay close to home and teach piano lessons after the birth of her first son.

Later, she became a self-taught piano tuner, studying intensely for several years, asking for advice from experts, and providing free tunings to hone her skills.


The store is a way for Hansen to bring all of her skills under one roof. She developed its business plan over several months, guided by the Small Business Development Center website, and her excellent credit rating also helped her secure a $10,000 loan from the Bank of Sun Prairie.

After her great aunt and namesake passed away at the age of 98, each grandniece and nephew was surprised with a sizable inheritance. Hansen and her husband used their portion to pay off some auto and student loan debt, and what remains is a healthy nest egg not only for the business, but for their two boys as well.

“I always wanted to do this,” Hansen said, “but had the inheritance not come through, it may not have happened now.” She would like to turn a profit in six months but admits a year may be more realistic.

The Piano Gal Shop had a soft opening on Nov. 1, but a grand opening is scheduled for Dec. 14-15. With the piano tuning business driving revenue right now, Hansen foresees needing additional staff, but she likely won’t hire another piano tuner. “I am the Piano Gal,” she said. “I am the brand and the logo. That ponytail is mine.

“I want to build my own reputation. If I mess up, you know where to find me. I can’t hide in a corner, and I’ll always make it right.”

The Piano Gal Shop
395 E. Main St., Sun Prairie, WI 53590
608.318.2677 |

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine – your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.