Guy asks permission to play piano in store then owner tracks him down for impromptu performance
When footage of 23-year-old John Archer playing got back to the store owner he was adamant about tracking him down.
Sasha Alonzo

When John Thomas Archer walked into ReMARKable Cleanouts in Norwood, Massachusetts, he didn’t think that the trip would end with him being given a free piano. After all, he wasn’t even looking to purchase a piano, but as fate would have it the universe had other plans for him.

His fancy fingerwork on the store’s antique piano impressed shop owner Mark Waters so much, that he decided to gift the piano to Archer.

Archer, a 23-year-old architecture student at Northeastern University, was shopping in the store at Winsmith Mill Market when he spotted a piano and asked if he could play.

The piano is typically off-limits to customers but store employees figured they’d let him have a go at it since he asked so nicely.

And you know what they say: “Ask and you shall receive.”

“It’s against my desk and people are constantly pounding on it, so we put a ‘Do not play’ sign on it,” store employee Melissa Rediker told The Boston Globe.

“He said he knew how to play it and asked if he could, so I said sure.”

It all started with a classic song

Archer eagerly sat down and began to play the first song he ever learned on the piano, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”.

It wasn’t long before a crowd gathered around the piano to watch Archer play.

People started to notice him

Archer didn’t notice. The only thing Archer could see was the music.

“When I play piano, I tune things out and just focus on what I’m creating,” he said. “It’s my way of releasing thoughts and emotions in a creative way.”

Rediker was overjoyed that the music was uplifting her customers so she decided to record his performance.

“The customers loved it,” Rediker said. “A lot of them stopped to watch and were humming along.”

She was hoping to talk to Archer before he left but the store got busy and she only got to say “thank you” before he was gone.

No one was prepared for the video to go viral.

It was viewed more than 83,000 times on Facebook. Assuming that Archer didn’t have a piano of his own, some people on Facebook offered to buy him one.

But store owner Waters wouldn’t have it.

The store owner tries to track him down

He wanted to be the one to gift the piano to Archer.

“I saw the clip and said, ‘Wow, that’s fantastic,’” Waters told Good Morning America. “He just lit up and drew a crowd.”

So, he put out a call on Facebook to try and find the “mystery piano man.”

“I’m a helper. A giver. I like to give. When I give to you and you smile, that makes me feel good. If you can make somebody else happy, bring a little joy in their heart,” Waters, who’s owned the store for a decade, told WBZ. “That’s what life’s about.”

Archer found out that the video went viral and that he was being tracked down after his girlfriend contacted him.

When Archer came to meet Waters at the store he put on another performance of “All of Me” by John Legend.

“I love playing piano. I love when I’m pressing down on the keys,” Archer told WBZ. “It’s more about my emotions and my feelings… As long as people still feel the joy out of my music, I’m happy.”

Nayuki via Flickr
Nayuki via Flickr

Archer says he is a self-taught “amateur piano player who is getting better.” While he has a keyboard, he didn’t have a piano until now.

The 500-pound Steinway piano was delivered through his fourth-floor apartment window with a crane thanks to Deathwish Piano Movers who donated their services.

“He’s a good young man and I’m glad he gets to have the piano,” Waters said. “If it brings joy into his life, that brings joy into into my heart.”

To watch the impromptu performance that started it all watch the video below.

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By Sasha Alonzo
Sasha Alonzo is a contributor at SBLY Media.