'Why Not Do This Here": Wake County Bagpipe shop in a class of their own

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Thursday, January 26, 2023 4:39AM
Wake County bagpipe shop in a class of their own
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Calling all bagpipe players! Skip Scotland and head to downtown Zebulon to visit MacLellan's Bagpipes.

ZEBULON, N.C. (WTVD) -- Calling all bagpipe players! Skip Scotland and head to downtown Zebulon to visit MacLellan's Bagpipes.

"People don't connect bagpipes with this area," said Joe Brady, who works at the shop.

Brady found the space a couple of years ago when playing a gig and told Roddy MacLellan, the shop's owner, about the find.

COVID presented a challenge, and the pair are weeks away from officially opening the doors to the public. MacLellan said fewer people were buying the expensive instruments, which is largely seen as a hobby, and instead turned to his expertise for other services.

"The demand changes," said MacLellan. "So as you say the economy goes down a little bit, we may not sell as many new instruments but we'll do a lot more refurbishing of older ones. It's a little worrying though being a small business. Self-employed, small business. We're always the ones that struggle the most when the economy turns. For most people it's a hobby so you would say do I want to spend $1,000 to $3,000 on a hobby right now? So in that sense it affects us."

According to MacLellan, the bagpipe shop is the only one in North America that makes, sells, and teaches lessons.

The shop is next door to Olde Raleigh Distillery, and across the street from a CBD and vape store, but they're more in the right place than not.

"When I first started it was because no one else was doing it. Then everything would have to come in from Scotland," said MacLellan. "So I thought...why not do this here, ya know!? That's kind of how it happened. A little bit by accident."

Bagpipes can start around $2,000 and go as high as $9,000 or more depending on custom finishes and fit.

"I'm in a niche of being a custom maker. And so I also send them all over the world. But there's not very many people who do it the way I do it," said MacLellan.

On the heels of an economic downturn in 2022 and a looming recession in 2023, there is concern about profitability at this level.

"It's a little worrying though being a small business; self-employed, small business," MacLellan said. "We're always the ones that struggle the most when the economy turns."

From start to finish, MacLellan said he can make a bagpipe in as little as a week. However, the current wait to receive one is about eight months.

The shop is looking to open its doors officially in March.

MacLellan Bagpipes is located at 217 North Arendell Avenue in Zebulon.