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Our Back Pages: Swillers Music

Serving as both a location to find the latest recorded music and a popular gathering spot, Swillers Music is still fondly remembered by longtime Arlington residents. 

Known over the years as Swillers Music, Swillers Music Center, or just Swillers, the store’s location in Clarendon at 1206 N. Hartford St. helped it become a magnet for residents looking for phonograph records of all genres. Turntables, televisions, radios, and related accessories were also kept in stock for the customer’s convenience.

Priding themselves on adding new merchandise on a near daily basis, many local residents found themselves visiting Swillers regularly, enjoying each other’s company, making new friends, or just passing the time. All of this seems quite fitting for a family owned business overseen by president Milton Swiller, vice president Anna Swiller, and treasurer Sydney Swiller.

The first listing for Swillers in an Arlington County directory appeared in 1948, while the last entry is from 1961.

 What About You?

 Do you have any recollections about Swillers Music?  If you do, please share in our comments section. Thanks.





Comments (7)

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  1. [...] Remembering Swillers Music — Back in the mid-20th century, Swillers Music was the place in Clarendon to buy musical instruments, sheet music, and even turntables or radios. The bygone store also had its own recording studio. [Library Blog] [...]

    • Ralph Cherry says:

      I bought Gogi Grant’s “The Wayward Wind” at Swillers–the record was a monster hit in 1956, so I was 10. My father drove me there from our home in Falls Church for that purpose. They had the 45s of the song stacked right next to the cash registers, it was so popular.

      • George Allingham says:

        What a trip back you’re posting was for me…I was also born in 1946, was living with my family in Warwick Village in Alexandria, going to St Rita’s, and making a weekly pilgrimage with my brother to Swiller’s. I also bought Gogi Grant’s The Wayward Wind. I can sill see it’s label…Era Records. I vividly recall that whole wall of record cubby holes with the hand lettered construction paper hanging in front with the name of the artist and song title. I remember having to wait whenever there was a song on the radio that we wanted, to be sure we got both the title AND artist, since there were cover versions and Swiller’s had it all. More than once we got burned with the wrong version.

        • Joanne Beury Goodin says:

          I love the accounts of this store. Just as I remember it. I spent all my baby sitting money there. For my birthday or Christmas I would give the list and make sure to get the artist right.
          My Dad built our house in Annandale and was a Craftsman guy so we were always going to Sears. I would get my Swillers fix when we ran those errands as a family.

  2. D.M.M. says:

    My husband talks about this store all the time as a place that he remembers fondly from his youth. Does anyone have any other pics?

  3. Lee Glendening Koss says:

    Recently, I contacted the Haynes Flute Company in Boston, MA about the provenance of one of my two Haynes’ Flutes. In an email, I told their representative about my parents buying this flute through my private teacher, John Dennis, Second Flute of the National Symphony in late 1968 or early 1969. Mr Dennis told my parents that the flute was owned by a member of one of the military bands who wanted to sell it. In my inquiry to the Haynes Flute Company, I learned that the only record that they have about this flute, a wonderful and cherished flute, was that it was sold to Swiller’s Music Store in 1955. My parents were told that my flute was made in 1954 ~ I still need to clarify if the Haynes Flute Company has that information or not. They had no idea where the music store was located. Your library has filled in that link. Swiller’s must have been a quality music store. Haynes flutes now cost upwards of $10,000.

    Because this Haynes’ Flute had closed holes, I was able to ask John Lunn, flutemaker, silversmith, and goldsmith, to “chase” and engrave the keys and levers of this flute between 2013-2014. The process took nearly a year, and the result is exquisite. I named my flute “Charm Bracelet” because of the symbolism representing my life and my family as created by John Lunn.
    November 2015

  4. Bill Hamiton says:

    My dad was stationed Fort Meade 1954-55. We lived in Annandale where I took trumpet lessons from MSGT Gilber Mitchell. He was 1st trumpet with the US Army Band during that period and was a regular visitor of Swillers. He was a terrific teacher and took extra care to select an Olds Ambassador for me from you. Sadly I gave up my trumpet career early in life but still have the horn which my grandson now has his eye on. I have fond memories of several visits to your wonderful store. It’s great to think you’re still going after all these years. Wishing you continued success.

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