Waukesha Menards' pianist, shoppers share music: 'Instant joy'

A concert hall, a fancy restaurant, church on Sundays – those are some of the familiar places you'll hear the piano.

But even when the sound of music comes from an unconventional place, like the Menards in Waukesha, it still has the ability to connect with those who take the time to listen.

If you walk through the turnstile, go past the paint supplies, then hang a left up the moving walkway, you can't miss it – and you'll definitely hear it.

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"I can see the instant joy and surprise. Sometimes the people will come up the escalator and go, 'There's a human there,'" exclaimed Menards pianist Jackie Oakes. 

She's been playing piano since age 12.

Jackie Oakes plays piano at the Menards in Waukesha

"It’s been a love affair ever since," Oaks said with a smile.

Now she gets to share her love of music with customers walking around the home improvement store.

"I happened to see the job online that it was advertised, and I thought, you know what, why not?" she said.

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Oakes plays a variety of songs. Her favorite? Movie themes.

Asked if being able to play piano for customers is her dream job Oakes said: "I’m sitting here doing what I love and people are enjoying it, and I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s a win for everybody including myself.’"

Customers seemed to enjoy the background music as they shopped at the home improvement store. A few weeks ago, a couple stopped near the piano and plumbing supplies to dance. 

Jackie Oakes plays piano at the Menards in Waukesha

As 11-year-old Jesus Lopez came up the moving walkway with his dad, the two smiled as they walked by Oakes on the piano.

"She took a lot of effort to making the music," Lopez said. "I just felt…like the tune of it."

Mike Pacocha, the general manager of the Waukesha store, said it's the only Menards in the state with a piano. He went on to say it’s been there for the past 13 years since the store opened off Bluemound. That’s a feature of the two-story builds.

Jackie Oakes plays piano at the Menards in Waukesha

"It's more relaxing and gives you a better shopping experience," said Pacocha.

For Oakes, this is more than just a job.

"It’s unexpected, but it’s a gift to everybody that’s walking around here whether they realize it or not," she said.

Oakes said she does take requests, and if she doesn’t know the song, she’ll learn it and play it a different day.

Jackie Oakes plays piano at the Menards in Waukesha

As for FOX6's request, I asked Oakes to play the Menards jingle. Not only did she nail it, she sang along to the catchy tune and ended with: "When you shop Menards!"

Pacocha told FOX6 Oakes is one of 20 pianists who work part-time at the Waukesha Menards.

On weekdays, someone’s on the keys from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. On weekends, it’s 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Most of the pianists do three-hour shifts, according to the general manager.