The Case of the Missing Piano

It’s been a while since I’ve written in here, and for that, I apologize.  Once again, life has just had the unfortunate ability to take over. I have written a couple of times for Spacing Ottawa, however, so if you’re looking for my thoughts on urban issues, keep an eye out over there (and for an excellent collection of urban thoughts in general).

So what is it that brings me back to blogging? Well, it’s a piano. That’s right, a musical instrument. More specifically, the piano that used to occupy the small sitting area just inside the entrance of Hartman’s, the grocery store that anchors the corner of Bank and Somerset—the only major grocery store in Centretown. Recently, the piano disappeared, replaced by a selection of flowers.

There’s been a remarkable amount of outcry beginning to develop on the Internet (especially considering this has only come to light within the last few days), including a Twitter hashtag and a Facebook group. The piano was clearly beloved by regular Hartman’s shoppers, and speaking as a regular customer myself, I can’t help but agree. It added a lovely bit of humanity to the corner of what is, otherwise, a fairly standard grocery-store experience. There was something uplifting and just plain enjoyable about wandering through the store listening to an 80s pop hit or a hymn slowly grow quieter as you moved away from the produce section. It was unique, and made the drugery of walking the ailes picking out groceries a little less mundane.

And now, it’s gone. At this point, it sounds unfortunately like the piano has little chance of returning. Ian Capstick spoke to the manager of Hartman’s, and posted this on the Facebook group:

I spoke to a Hartman’s manager who says the piano is still in the store; but will be shipped off to “a charity” soon. I asked if Hartman’s would ensure it ends up somewhere where people in the community could still play it. They were non committal. I asked if any amount of begging and pleading would bring it… back; and he suggests the demand for produce in Centretown is very high and they need the space.

Ultimately, Hartman’s is a privately owned business, and they have absolutely no obligation to listen to people tell them to bring back the instrument. However, I can’t help but think that if enough negative attention is brought upon this issue, and if people continue to spread the word and talk about what that piano did to improve the store, then we might have a chance. And certainly, I’ve always felt that Hartman’s had a very good and extensive produce section, certainly as-good or better-than the ones found at the Metro on Rideau and the Loblaws on Isabella.

So spread the word. If you’ve ever played the piano, or listened to someone play it while you shop and it brightened your day, then speak up, link to this post or to the Facebook group, or talk about it on Twitter. The more traffic there is on this, the better the chance of the piano being restored to its place inside the store.


3 Responses to “The Case of the Missing Piano”

  1. January 7, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Thanks for blogging this!

    There’s a rally tonight @ 6:30.
    We’ll have a CBC TV camera there!
    Please come if you can and be sure to say your from The Ottawa Project.
    Just look for the woman with short pink hair!

    Facebook event listing

    • 2 David McClelland
      January 7, 2010 at 5:30 pm

      Would love to, but I’m afraid I have other plans this evening. Hope all goes well. 🙂

  2. 3 Michele Toscano
    January 25, 2010 at 6:02 pm


    I used to play some Chopin at the Hartman’s piano 3-4 weeks for 3 yrs. I enjoyed it and all the friends that passed by as well. I ve spent alot of money shopping there as well but now i stat in my neighourhood to shop and no urgent need to go play piano there to make me happy and lots of seniors happy.

    Mr. Larry Hartman, I say thank you for the great years of piano but you will never see me there again. What a tragedy for piano freaks like me since i know of no other places in Ottawa with free piano..

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Email: dmccl033(at)uottawa(dot)ca

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