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Meet Ric Marquis of Hale Ukulele in Clairemont

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ric Marquis.

Ric, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
On my first trip to Hawaii in 2001, I was hanging out at the hotel pool and there was another group of people who were there for a bowling tournament. They all had ukuleles and were just hanging out playing and having a great time. The music was great and they were really enjoying each other’s company! I have been a musician most of my life, mostly drums and more recently guitar. But I was intrigued and set out to find out more about ukulele.

I purchased my first ukulele on that trip. My collection and love for ukulele began to grow. Ukuleles were tough to come by outside of Hawaii. Most of the music stores in San Diego had only a few to choose from. Ukuleles were the bastard child of the guitar and not given a lot of shelf space. So I started buying them off the internet. But when the instrument would arrive, it would sound different than I expected and I wasn’t always happy with it. I really wanted to go somewhere local and sit down and play one before buying it.

Fast forward to 2011, My wife and I had recently begun our family and I was enjoying being the stay at home Dad. But the kids we’re starting school and I needed to find something else to do. I had been a pool/hardscape mason before kids but my body was aging and I didn’t want to go back to that. They say find a job doing what you love. What did I love??? Music!! San Diego really needed a place to get an ukulele.

I did research for about a year on how to open a store and what brands I would want to carry. I opened the store in October 2012.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest challenge is competing with the internet. Customers come in, find what they like and then leave to find a better price online. Being a small “mom and pop” store, we just don’t have the buying power that Amazon does.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Hale Ukulele – what should we know?
What sets us apart from other music stores? We sell ONLY ukuleles and ukulele related accessories. We host classes and workshops for players of all levels. We do a lot of stuff with local schools and charities and sponsor local festivals. We have a lot of fun!! How can it not be fun…. it’s ukulele!!

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Customer service is our number one priority. Ukulele is very personal. It is an extension of your personality. You need to take time to find the one that talks to you. My customers can come in, sit down and submerse themselves in ukulele. I don’t rush them to make a decision. I want them to be happy in their choice.


  • Pricing begins at $45 for a beginner ukulele and can go well into the thousands for a custom piece.
  • A good mid range instrument will run you about $300.00.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Monica Marquis
Joanne Ordonez

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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