Rice Music House was a daily advertising presence on WIS radio when I was growing up. I remember that they constantly mentioned their Steinway ("The finest piano in the world") and Cable-Nelson pianos. Another big selling point was that "We own all our pianos". At the time, I figured that all stores owned everything they sold, so I didn't see why it was a big deal. Now it seems sort of amazing that they carried all those grand pianos on their own ledgers.
In the event, I suppose advertising isn't everything, because when it came our time to buy a piano, we went with Haven's a bit further up Divine Street. I think they threw in lessons with the instrument, though by the time we finished our year of lessons, they were starting to de-emphasize pianos and get into the framing business that became their mainstay while Rice went on for another 40 years.
Rice announced their closing/move in March. Interestingly, the initial announcements and the story in The State all mentioned that the store would be moving (in downsized form, without sheet music or repair shop) to The Village At Sandhill, but none of their mail circulars, their closing website or the window signage mentioned the move. I was a bit worried at first, but I did finally see their storefront at Sandhill, and the final closing door note does mention the new store.
This, in fact, is the new storefront:
And this is the Devine Street store in happier times back on 27 June of 2010 (and 1 September 2011):
UPDATE 29 August 2012 -- Looks like the Sandhill location is about ready to open:
UPDATE 18 September 2012 -- The Sandhill location is open:
UPDATE 3 January 2013 -- As mentioned in the comments, the old Rice building on Devine has been demolished: