Foo Fighters spearhead campaign to benefit Jensen’s Guitar
For Jensen Guitar & Music Co., keeping tempo during the pandemic proved to be a challenge.
Between shifting tier restrictions and multiple lockdowns, owner Chris Jensen told the News-Press that the Santa Barbara shop is running about “half-speed from what a normal year would be.” Without walk-in customers and weekly music lessons, it’s been difficult for the business to stay afloat.
But hope may just be on the horizon for the 48-year-old guitar store.
Thanks to a partnership between renowned rock band the Foo Fighters and Vans shoes, proceeds from a limited edition pair of Foo Fighters shoes and a special edition T-shirt will benefit Jensen’s Guitar shop.
The Vans campaign, known as “Foot the Bill,” was started during the COVID-19 crisis to provide relief funds to businesses hit hardest by the pandemic.
Chris Shiflett, the lead guitarist for the Foo Fighters, said when Vans approached him about participating in the campaign, picking Jensen Guitars as the small business to support was a “no brainer.” During his childhood as a Santa Barbara native, Mr. Shiflett remembers taking guitar lessons at Jensen’s with his brother, Mike.
“My earliest memories of Jensen’s is being there with my brother as a real little kid,” Mr. Shiflett told the News-Press, adding that he also purchased his very first guitar at Jensen’s.
Now a well-known musician and worldwide celebrity, Mr. Shiflett still looks at Jensen Guitars as the place where it all began.
“When you look at the shop, you see how central that place has been to young musicians,” Mr. Shiflett said. “For me and my brothers, it was a place to go to ask questions when you didn’t know how distortion worked or what gage of sting to get. It’s really home base … It’s important to any community but especially downtown Santa Barba. In my opinion, they need a guitar store for young musicians.”
One thousand pairs of the limited-edition Foo Fighters shoes launched Tuesday on Van’s website and sold out in one day, making the pair the fastest shoes to sell out in the Foot the Bill Campaign, Mr. Shiflett said. A limited-edition collection of 250 Foo Fighter T-shirts is currently on sale on Vans website, and all the net proceeds from both the shoes and shirts will benefit Jensen’s.
For Mr. Jensen, having the Foo Fighters support his business during this unprecedented time is extremely touching.
“It’s really, really heartwarming because they go back a long way, and they’re one of the worldwide best-known bands out there right now,” Mr. Jensen told the News-Press. “And just to have (Chris) remember his roots … that was really really nice that he kept that all in his brain that he would really remember the place and what a good time he had here and how it helped him in his career.”
With case rates declining across Santa Barbara and tier restrictions allowing more in-person shopping, Mr. Jensen said he has hope recovery is on the way. All around the shop’s various rooms, stacked guitar cases contain instruments in need of various repairs, which “has helped a lot,” Mr. Jensen said.
“It’s been a tough year, but we are kind of getting to a point where I think I can see that the cloud is lifting,” Mr. Jensen said. “If it’s true we’re going to be able to open June 15 … we’ll see what happens.”
Before the Vans campaign launched earlier this week, Mr. Shiflett paid a visit to Jensen Guitars and caught up with Mr. Jensen for the first time in years. He posted a video on his social media promoting the campaign and sharing some of his favorite memories with his social media followers.
“This guy’s been sitting here for about a hundred years selling guitars and teaching lessons to schmos like me,” Mr. Shiflett said with a laugh in the video. He added that his brother, Mike, is a longtime guitar teacher at Jensen’s.
“I have so many memories of sitting in here and staring at all these guitars and waiting nervously to take my guitar lesson trying to figure out how to play a G chord,” he said later in the video. “This place has not changed a bit in my memory, I love it.”
The limited-edition Foo Fighters T-shirt is still available for purchase on Vans’ website at vans.com/footthebill. All net proceeds will benefit Jensen Guitar & Music Co., located at 2830 De La Vina St. For more information, go to jensenguitar.com.