There’s no better gift than the gift of music!

Antique stores can have a reputation for being stuffy stores with uptight owners. “Don’t touch that” or “you break it, you buy it!”

Well, one Massachusetts antique store owner is adding his own spin to that narrative.

He vowed to track down a mystery man after he ignored a “DO NOT PLAY” sign and gave the whole store a shocking and unsolicited performance!

His Simple Impromptu Performance Shook the Room

It was a seemingly regular day at ReMARKable Cleanouts when shop owner, Mark Waters heard the familiar beat of Journey’s iconic Don’t Stop Believin’ play throughout the store.

“He started playing and the place lit up!”

Mark Waters, Owner

The special antique piece specifically had a “DO NOT PLAY” sign displayed on the top of instrument. Waters, who runs the family-owned business knew the piano was delicate and had the potential to be damaged by un-serious customers.

But when the mysterious young man — who would later be identified as John Thomas Archer — asked one of the shop girls if he could play a song on the piano and she gave him a shot (and he totally scored)!

Customers were so impressed by the play-by-ear performance, one person even managed to get the whole thing on camera.

Watch The Mystery Piano Player’s Performance Below:

Even though the crowd went wild (or as wild as you can go, when you’re in an antique store), the young man didn’t stay for an encore.

He quietly packed up and slipped out the door before store owner Mark Waters could get his contact information.

Thankfully, the third-party footage would be key in tracking him down, which is just what this antique store owner planned to do.

The Search for the Mystery Piano Player

a comment on Facebook
ReMARKable Cleanouts/Facebook

With virtually no leads, Waters did the only thing he could think to do. He turned to his local community for help — and the internet did not disappoint!

He quickly posted the video of the mystery player on his Facebook page. He asked if anyone could help identify the young masked man. He had a special surprise for him!

The mystery piano player was found by Julie McDonald at WBZ Channel 4 who interviewed him on the newscast three days later!

He Taught Himself How to Play-By-Ear

man sitting next to a piano
Credit: Renee Thomas

The mystery piano player was identified as 23-year-old college student, John Thomas Archer.

The Northeastern University student told WBZ he saw the clip of himself playing on a local news station. Truthfully, he felt compelled to respond to make sure he wasn’t in trouble.

Thankfully, he couldn’t have been more wrong!

“My girlfriend sent me a text that the media was looking for me,” he said. “I didn’t know so many people would be affected by watching me play. I am just baffled.”

John Thomas Archer

Archer told WBZ that he was just an “amateur” musician. The “Journey” hit was the first song he ever learned to impressively play-by-ear (without sheet music).

Even though he loved to play, he couldn’t afford to have a piano at home. Instead he made-do with a portable keyboard.

So Waters brought him in again, and gave him the timeless gift of music — literally.

Returning for an Encore!

two men standing together
ReMARKable Cleanouts/Facebook

Upon request, Archer returned to the store the next day. True to his words, antique store owner Mark Waters personally gifted the impressive Steinway piano.

“[John] went into tears and it brought tears to my eyes. It was one of those feel good moments.”

Mark Waters

“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.”

Archer celebrated the win by giving a sweet performance of All of Me by John Legend.

“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 has owned the store for a decade, told WBZ. “That’s what life’s about.”

Giving for Giving’s Sake

“I just wish there was more stories like this with everyone opening their hearts,” Waters told Good Morning America. “I’d like to donate something every day if it brought people into a good mood.”

Sure, we may not all have an antique Steinway piano lying around. But what’s meaningful to one person is different than what’s meaningful to another.

Yes, this antique store owner had a gift that would “rock” this musicians world (pun intended), but each and every one of us have a gift that would totally rock someone else’s.

Mark Water’s story is a poignant reminder that we all have something we’re holding onto that we can afford to let go — free of charge.

Giving for giving’s sake is the gift that keeps on giving — did we say ‘giving’ too many times?!