Third-Generation Fender Family: Leitz Music, Panama City, Fla.

Leitz Music owner Philip Leitz (left) and president Chris Leitz (right) with a signature-covered 1970 reissue Stratocaster guitar presented to them by Fender in 2010 for the Florida retailer's 40th anniversary.

Fender has been the heart of northwest Florida’s Leitz Music for many years. The company was founded in Panama City, Fla., in 1969 when Norman and Honey Leitz purchased band instrument store Wilson’s Music. Their son, Philip, was first smitten by Fender guitars at age 12 in 1970, when he got his first instrument—a sunburst Stratocaster traded in by a customer. Leitz Music became an authorized Fender dealer six years later, and so it has been a great relationship ever since the mid-1970s.

With hard work and diligence, Leitz grew over the years, and Fender was “instrumental” as a driving force behind the retailer’s eventual expansion. Ownership passed to Philip Leitz, and the store moved to its current two-story 25,000-square-foot building in 1989.

“This lets us really show off Fender’s full line,” said Chris Leitz, Philip’s son and current president of Leitz Music (Philip Leitz is still the owner). “Walking through our store is like walking through a Fender catalog.”

Indeed it is. On entering, Leitz customers find themselves in the midst of a wide and varied selection that includes representatives from nearly every Fender production instrument line—guitar and basses from the Standard and American Standard, Deluxe and American Deluxe, American Vintage, American Special, Classic, Blacktop, Road Worn and Modern Player series, and many more. Leitz is also an authorized Fender Custom Amp dealer, with a great selection that includes top-line amps such as the Vibro-King® Custom and the new EC Series.

All the growth, however, wasn’t limited to Panama City. Leitz Music opened a location in nearby Fort Walton Beach in 1996, allowing the company to carry even more Fender products. Further, Leitz fully embraced online business in 2011 (www.leitzmusic.com).

Leitz Music staffer Shane Quick cradles a Stratocaster in the high-end electric room.

“The Fender brand is what we put our focus on,” Chris Leitz said. “After all, it’s not just a brand; it’s an icon. It’s not just a guitar; it’s a Fender! It’s a name that has been synonymous with quality, durability and good-old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll since the early ’50s. It’s also a name that has been synonymous with Leitz Music since the ’70s.”

Customers know it, too. After all, they’re now in their sixth decade of turning to Leitz Music and its enthusiastic, knowledgeable and welcoming staff for Fender guitars, basses, amps and service.

“I think people enjoy shopping with Leitz because they see that we love the business we are in,” Chris Leitz said. “We treat the people who come in and call in to our store not like customers but like guests and friends. We’re passionate about the products we sell and we take great care of the people we help, whether it’s a seasoned musician or someone looking to enter the music world for the first time. We will help them as best we can every step of the way—that’s the way we have done business for 40 years, and I think that’s what has made all this possible.”


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