Local Business Spotlight: Archie’s Guitars

The team at Archie's Guitars cuts up in front of the shop's van. Jason Underwood (right) is the owner of the store and a longtime Heights resident.

The team at Archie’s Guitars cuts up in front of the shop’s van. Jason Underwood (right) is the owner of the store and a longtime Heights resident.

Editor’s note: The following is part of our series featuring local businesses. We believe everyone has a story to tell. If you know a business or neighbor who should be featured, email contact@heightspark.com.

Admit it: you’ve played air guitar in front of a mirror at least once in your life. Probably way more than once. Well, you are in good company. For those of us who have considered taking our rock star dreams to the next level, Archie’s Guitars in the Richardson Heights Shopping Center is here to help. Jason Underwood, a longtime Heights resident and passionate musician, opened the all-things-guitar store about two years ago.

Named for the Underwood’s family dog, Archie’s is a welcoming, family friendly shop that emphasizes customer service. Jason recently took time away from stringing guitars and sifting through spreadsheets to answer some questions about the Heights neighborhood and the store.

You’ve lived in the Richardson Heights area for quite a while, right? What do you love about this part of the city?

I grew up in this area — specifically a Brentfield Elementary/Parkhill Junior High/Pearce High School kid.  When my wife, Claudine, and I moved into to the Heights neighborhood in 2003, we were drawn to the older homes, large lots and trees. More than that, we immediately clicked with all the folks in the neighborhood. We moved in as the “young” couple as many of the neighbors were original builders from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Since then, our daughter, who graduated from Richardson High School, is now a sophomore at the University of Colorado Boulder, and our son is currently a sophomore at RHS. Now we are the “old” folks!

When did you start playing guitar (other instruments)? What do you love about playing music?

I started playing guitar around fourth grade. I was completely hooked on music from as early as I can remember. The first album I bought was in first grade — a 45 of David Bowie’s “Fame.” Music listening and album buying haven’t slowed down 45 years later.

When you were growing up, where did you get your gear? Was there a store like Archie’s that inspired you to open your shop?

I started taking my first guitar lessons around 1979 at a local independent shop called the Music Haus, which as it happens was located across the street from where Archie’s is now. I really loved that “local” shop feel even then. I also spent many days riding my bike up to Prestonwood Mall and going to the Melody Shop.

I meet lots of folks my age now that come into Archie’s with their own Melody Shop stories. It was a great chain. But as the ‘90s hit, many of the great independent shops as well as the Melody Shops of our area all went away. It was an ambition of mine starting around that time to open an independent music/guitar shop like the ones I enjoyed so much.

What sets Archie’s apart from the competition?

Archie’s was put together on the emphasis of customer service first. That goes back to the early ambition I had to one day open a local, independent shop like those I loved so much from the ‘70s and ‘80s that are now mostly gone in our area.

At Archie’s I’ve brought in a select group of guys who not only have the right experience but the right attitude that seems to be lacking these days especially in “those” guitar shops. Not only in terms of sales but that attitude also carries over to our service and lessons. Our repair technicians have a great reputation and treat each guitar regardless of value as if it is their own.

What recommendations do you have for someone who is interested in learning an instrument — guitar, bass, ukulele, etc.?

Take a chance and try! Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never even picked one up before — you will be surprised at how much you can pick up with the right teacher. At Archie’s, we have a select group of instructors who I brought in not just because they are great players, but because they are great teachers and communicators.   They all do a great job of identifying the individual student’s likes and leanings and build a plan from there — not just a one-method approach. We offer lessons for guitar, bass, ukulele, keyboards and even banjo.

What are the three most-popular items you sell?

In terms of volume, we move a lot of brand new Yamaha acoustic guitars at $199.99, Blackstar starter amps at $99.99 and Jackson electric guitars starting at $149.99. In terms of popularity, our line of Chase Bliss pedals are true high-end effects pedals, along with EVH (Eddie Van Halen) Wolfgang guitars and Orange Amplifiers are sought-after items.

In addition to teaching lessons, making repairs, and selling gear, y’all occasionally host concerts, right?

Now that the weather is warmer, we will continue to feature live acoustic music in front of the store, usually on Saturdays. We are planning our big two-year anniversary blowout for the end of the summer as well.

What else should people know about Archie’s?

More than anything, Archie’s is about the experience and the relationship with anyone that comes in. We operate Archie’s to be not only a shop for you to stop in and pick up a guitar and try out new gear but also to be able to be on a first-name basis with any and all of the guys here — a place you can trust no matter what level of player you are or want to be.



Neighbors Clean Up Heights Park During Trash Bash

Warm clothes and rain boots were invaluable at the cold, wet Trash Bash on April 7 at Heights Park

Warm clothes and boots were invaluable at the cold, wet Trash Bash on April 7 at Heights Park.

An empty bottle in the grass. A sandwich wrapper near — but not inside — a trashcan. We’ve all seen these “Don’t Mess With Texas” fails. Last weekend, Huibrie Pretorius led a group of hardy Heights Park residents in cleaning up garbage at our neighborhood park.

Huibrie, a native South African who moved to Richardson with her husband and two sons about two and a half years ago, teaches Tinkergarten, a learning-through-play class for young children at Heights Park. Cleaning up is part of her routine.

“I have classes once or twice a week in the park. I do my best to clean up trash from the areas we’ll play in that day,” she said.

Huibrie sought to make a bigger impact on the park’s appearance during Richardson’s annual Trash Bash. She created an event on the Heights Park Neighborhood Facebook group, and residents quickly responded that they’d attend.

On the morning of the cleanup, temperatures dipped into the 30s, and lingering rain made for less-than-ideal conditions. However, five families including children ages 2 to 7 braved the weather to fill six bags with trash. Volunteers picked up many remnants from the previous weekend’s Easter celebrations — egg shells, confetti and even some treasure.

“My 4-year-old son picked up a plastic Easter egg with some coins still inside,” Huibrie said. “It certainly helped him feel a bit better about being out in the cold!”

Huibrie said she would consider organizing another cleanup event, perhaps another Saturday in the fall. She said she is pleased with neighbors’ enthusiasm and participation.

“Thanks everyone who came and persisted in the cold and also all of you who even considered it!” Huibrie said. “I know the sudden cold weather might have deterred some willing volunteers and that is totally understandable. I hope to see you all again soon!”



Find Deals, Sell Stuff at Junk in the Trunk on April 21

Heights Park Neighborhood Association is steering a fun spring sale — Junk in the Trunk. The first-time event will be from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 21, in the Heights Elementary parking lot.

Neighbors who reserve a spot will be selling an assortment of items — from the trunks of their cars and alongside them — in assigned parking spaces at the elementary school.

The cost to sell items is $10 per car. Proceeds will benefit the Heights Elementary PTA. Email contact@heightspark.com to reserve your spot today. Only 20 spots are available, so spin your wheels fast.



Community Revitalization Award Winners Include Four in Heights Park

825 LockwoodFrom the City of Richardson (original post):

The Richardson City Council recently recognized 14 projects throughout the city with annual Community Revitalization Awards. Of those, four are in Heights Park.

The City Council created the awards to recognize property owners who have enhanced the community by making significant exterior improvements to their properties, which have, in turn, had a positive impact on the surrounding area.

Both residential and non-residential projects are eligible. Nearly 250 properties have been recognized since 1994.

Judging Committee

  • Mark Solomon, mayor pro-tem
  • Bob Dubey, city council member
  • Tom Maxwell Jr., city plan commissioner
  • Stephen Springs, city plan commissioner (and civics chair for Heights Park Neighborhood Association)
  • Beth Kolman, Chamber of Commerce

Gallagher Residence: 825 Lockwood Drive (top of page)

This Heights Park ranch home built in the late 1950s was remodeled by the Gallagher family. The Gallaghers, who previously lived in Cottonwood Heights, moved to this property for the beauty of the lot and countless stories from friends and neighbors about the greatness of the neighborhood.

This unique project retained the original foundation and exterior walls while also expanding the footprint of the home and adding a detailed second story addition. The brick home was painted and a large covered front porch was constructed. A large, decorative gable with Tudor style windows covers the porch framed by decorative cedar columns atop brick bases and ornamental brick knee walls. Second story dormers, accented with cedar shingles add interest to the roof line. A new, attached side entry garage provides design aspects consistent with the detail of the home itself.

The decorative walkway leads to the front porch, and mature trees were maintained and supplemented with landscaping, including pallets of sod and several tons of rock that were installed by the homeowners. This sweat equity has provided an attractive entrance to this uniquely designed home.

400 Rustic Circle

Cantwell Residence: 400 Rustic Circle

In 2016, the homeowner purchased this 1950s home located on Rustic Circle. The interior of the home was gutted while the exterior also received a makeover. Improvements included the painting of the brick home and the addition of cedar shutters to highlight the windows on the front of the home. A meandering lead walk, steps, and a new front door offers an inviting arrival to visitors. Landscape enhancements include the trimming of the existing, mature trees, the addition of new sod, and the planting of evergreen shrubs along the front of the home to soften the appearance of the foundation. This home is an example of what a little tender loving care can accomplish.

Communion Coffee and Coworking

Communion Neighborhood Cooperative: 514 Lockwood Drive

This early 1960s commercial property had certainly seen better days. Last year, the property was purchased and repurposed as a co-working office featuring indoor and outdoor dedicated workspace, room for events, and a neighborhood café. Site improvements include a new asphalt overlay on the parking lot along with the addition of an outdoor seating area along the front of the building. The building improvements include the replacement of overhead garage doors, the addition of decorative front doors, a repainted façade, and the addition of planters with Italian Cypress trees along the front of the patio.

The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany: 421 Custer Road

The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany: 421 Custer Road

The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany has been at this location since the early 1960s. After years of research and open forums, the congregation decided that the campus needed to expand for much needed space, as well as undergo a major facelift to create a more welcoming identity to the surrounding neighborhood. The expansion included the construction of a two-story, 13,000-square foot Servants Hall that houses the chapel, music suite, nursery, offices and meeting rooms. A new drive and covered porte-cochere define and enhance the main entrance along Custer Road. Additionally the existing landscape has been supplemented with plant material consistent with City policies throughout the campus.

The Community Revitalization Awards recognize owners’ efforts to enhance the community by making significant investments and exterior enhancements to their properties. The council created the awards in 1994 to encourage people to help make a positive impact on their own properties as well as those in the surrounding area.

For more information about the program, visit cor.net/CRA. More information on each property that received an award will be included in the March issue of Richardson Today.



Attend Heights Park Neighborhood Meeting on Feb. 3


The City of Richardson is implementing a strategy for redevelopment and revitalization of Main Street and the Central Expressway Corridor — Richardson’s original downtown and the major access route to the community, its business areas and neighborhoods. Hear the latest updates at the Heights Park Neighborhood Association meeting on Saturday, Feb. 3.

Join your neighbors at the first Heights Park Neighborhood Association meeting of the year from 1 to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Heights Recreation Center.

The guest speaker will be a representative from the City of Richardson city manager’s office. Learn about the exciting changes in the city, such as downtown development (see rendering above) that includes multifamily residences, retail, the new facility for the police and fire departments, and other juicy details. Hear it straight from the city’s mouth and have the chance to ask questions.

Also, HPNA members will elect new board members at the meeting.



It’s Time to Renew Your Membership

Your annual membership dues make events like Oktoberfest possible. Thank you for your contribution!

Your annual membership dues make events like Oktoberfest possible. Thank you for your contribution!

Flag Program

Members who choose to pay an additional $40 for the flag program when they renew their membership will have flags placed in front of their homes on five major holidays — Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Sept. 11, and Veterans Day.

The program is operated by Richardson Rotary with the support of local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts who share in the revenue. Proceeds benefit a scholarship program for RISD high school students.

Being a member of the Heights Park Neighborhood Association has its benefits. Your annual contribution of $20 (or $60 to participate in the optional flag program) makes your neighborhood a better place to live.

If you want flag service, definitely submit your payment by Friday, Feb. 9, so that your house will have a flag on Presidents Day, Feb. 19.

Benefits of Membership

  • Informative, up-to-date professionally designed website.
  • Professionally designed newsletter distributed to all residents twice a year.
  • Email updates of important events/newsworthy items affecting our neighborhood.
  • Fun annual events: Oktoberfest, Holiday Sing and Stroll and The Heights of Summer.
  • Active Block Representation Network
  • Volunteer Citizen Patrollers to keep our crime stats down.
  • Crime Watch Program through Richardson Police Department.
  • Yard of the Month program.
  • Flag Lease Program for members.
  • Participation in City of Richardson Neighborhood Vitality Program and other neighborhood enhancement programs.
  • Conduit to City Hall and Chamber of Commerce on issues directly effecting our neighborhood.
  • Partnerships with other neighborhood associations.
  • Hard-working, all-volunteer association board.

How to Join

HPNA Membership is $20. The the optional flag program is $40, so $60 for both. There are two payment options:

  1. Print out a Membership Form and mail it with your check payable to:

Heights Park Neighborhood Assoc.
P.O. Box 833537
Richardson, TX 75080.

2. Or you can pay with Paypal.

PayPal Logo



City of Richardson Alerts Residents About Water Insurance Fraud

Editor’s Note: The following message from the City of Richardson is about a mass mailing that you may receive about water/sewer insurance.

We were notified last month that a company called American Water Resources of Texas planned to do a mass mailing in Richardson to sell insurance for residential water and sewer lines. This company is known for “partnering” with other cities to sell its services and provide revenue back to those cities; however, we wanted to pass the word along that the City of Richardson is NOT associated with this, or any other related, service provider.

While Richardson residents are responsible for the portion of the water/sewer lines that run from the City’s meter to your home, the City of Richardson does not sponsor or endorse any third-party program to obtain a warranty plan or other form of coverage for the service lines. Consideration of such coverage should include:

  1. Determining the probable risk of needing such repairs;
  2. The cost of coverage and whether or not it requires automated payment deductions against your bank account, with an automatic yearly renewal;
  3. The actual terms of the coverage to ensure it does not contain substantial exemptions or limitations; and
  4. The company’s financial viability and longevity to ensure it is able to disburse payments for claims.

Please know the City of Richardson does not solicit services provided by third parties, and no City employee would ever go to your door to ask for in-person payments or personal financial information.

Don Magner,
First Assistant City Manager



December 2017 Decorated Yard of the Month: 609 Newberry Drive

December 2017 Decorated Yard of the Month: 609 Newberry Drive

December 2017 Decorated Yard of the Month: 609 Newberry Drive

About Yard of the Month

Is your yard a source a pride? A work of art? A labor of love? It’s time to receive some formal recognition for all those hours of hard work.
The HPNA Yard of the Month contest is for all residents of Heights Park neighborhood. View the Contest Rules.

Nominate a Yard

Fill out the form on the Yard of the Month page.

The December 2017 Decorated Yard of the Month belongs to Jan Kassen at 609 Newberry Drive. Here is what she had to say about her yard:

How exciting to learn that I won yard of the month for December! Christmas has always been a favorite holiday for me, and this year my yard has special meaning. The Nativity was handmade and painted by my mother over 40 years ago. Last year they decided it was too much for them to continue to put up each year and I knew it could not leave our family. As a kid, I remember neighbors driving by our house just to see the Nativity. This year, it has been truly heartwarming to see the same happen here along with families stopping by with their little ones while on walks to take a closer look.

I have called Richardson home for over 12 years and could not think of living anywhere else. I live here with my sweet Goldendoodle, Boomer. You can often spot him looking out my front window. When I moved here, it was really about location and charm of the homes. Little did I know that I would fall in love with this community. I am blessed with amazing neighbors that have become lifelong friends.

I hope this little gem brings some holiday spirit to anyone who passes by and puts a smile on your face.

Happy Holidays!
Jan Kassen and Boomer
609 Newberry Drive