Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Aliens and Strangers keep hitting the right notes for Sidney's growth

SIDNEY- He is a Hoosiers fan, but don't hold that against him. Christopher Dyson, owner of Aliens and Strangers, LLC music store in Sidney continues to expand the business that he started in May of 2011.

Born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana, Dyson left when he was 19 to enroll in a guitar program at Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, California. While there, he lived and played music on the Sunset Strip. He lived in Colorado for a few years before moving to Sidney.

He explained further, "I was a musician first but during my 'starving' years I got into print graphic production. When I moved to Sidney I was part of the Prepress, later called the Pre-media department at Cabela's for nearly 16 years, managing the department for the last few years. When the creative group was laid off from Cabela's I was the Production Manager at Quad Graphics before deciding to leave to do the store full-time.

His current store located at 932 10th Avenue in Sidney is presently for sale, but that doesn't mean that the shop is closing its doors. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

Dyson and his wife Amy own the building on the corner of 12th and Illinois and plan to use the storefront between Grandma Jo's Diner and the local movie theater as their new base of operations.

"The rough plan is to move into the new space mid-January, but it could be later due to having construction completed," said Dyson. "It isn't hinging on the sale of the 10th Ave building."

Aliens and Strangers has never stopped growing. The store started on the back porch of their home in Chappell 12 years ago. "After a year, we purchased a retail space in Chappell, but outgrew that space within two years," remembers Dyson. "We decided to come to Sidney and we built our home above the 10th Avenue store. We then purchased the newspaper's building a couple of years ago expecting to need more warehouse space as the business continued to thrive."

Even though the new location at 1136 Illinois Street won't increase square footage for the store, it will provide more room for lessons and much-needed warehouse space for their extensive inventory.

"If you've visited our store in the last year you see stacks of boxes everywhere; we have inventory coming out of our ears!",jokes Dyson. "We sell music-related accessories, amplifiers, PA gear, instructional materials and more. We do rent-to-own and sales for our local school students. We offer guitar, bass, and drum lessons and are currently looking for another piano and voice teacher. We also have recording and live sound services. If you were at any of the Downtown Sound events this summer, we are who provided the sound and lighting for all three nights."

Aliens and Strangers Music was created from their love of music and the relationships that are formed from it. Through dedicated service and fairly-priced, quality gear, they strive to do everything they can to help people find their relationship with music.

"I'm not interested in being the biggest music retailer in the world. If that is a side-effect, that's great, but my goal is to be a supplier of quality instruments and accessories that help people build their musical success," said Dyson. "It doesn't matter if it is someone that likes to play around the house or campfire, or if it's the professional that is playing for thousands of people."

When asked about the unusual name, Dyson explained. "We had fun with the name having an alien guitarist for the logo, but the name actually has no correlation to space aliens. The name 'Aliens and Strangers' is based on 1 Peter 2:11 in the Bible where it says that as believers in Christ we are 'aliens and strangers' to this world. Although my wife and I are Christians we don't use our business directly as a mission field. But we do try to run the business based on Christian principles; honesty, integrity, treating others as we'd like to be treated. Of course, if someone asks us we're happy to tell them about our faith."

Dyson saw the Panhandle area as under-served for music stores and that there wasn't a huge selection of products. "I thought it would be fun to have a store that could supply local customers with great products at internet-pricing and grow our online business to support it where local business may be limited. We compete with large internet businesses so we always have competitive prices to anyone online, let alone regional competition." said Dyson. With a small business you wear lots of hats. I'm the primary purchasing, maintainer of the website and social media and anything else that needs to be done."

Of having a local business Dyson said "I'm always blown away from the support we get from Sidney and surrounding communities. Our expectations were always based on internet growth, but we have some very loyal customers, locally and regionally. I hope that is a reflection of our customer service and the quality of the products we provide.

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