Flesher-Hinton, Wheat Ridge’s newest addition, has over 60 years in the business and is the second oldest music store in the state of Colorado. With a grand opening currently being planned for the summer, Flesher-Hinton sells instruments, sheet music, and accessories while providing affordable private music lessons, rentals and instrument repair.
Located off 44th Avenue just west of Sheridan, between Fenton Street and Gary Street, you’ll find this music sanctuary, now exclusive to Wheat Ridge. Originally just starting off repairing music instruments for local schools, Mel Flesher and his brother in-law Carl Hinton opened for business in 1951. Shortly after passing away in the 80’s, Mel’s wife Geraldine took over, until eventually handing it down to her two children and current owners, Herve and Kristi Flesher.
Colorado native Dave Sampskins, who works at Flesher-Hinton, sits down and we start sharing stories about music classes in college. Dave, who grew up and still plays the bass, reminisced about getting his first instrument in third grade at Flesher-Hinton. Although the freshest staff member, he says the average employee has worked at Flesher- Hinton for over 20 years.
Ecstatic about their new location, which offers more space in a less compact and sophisticated layout, he says another big factor was choosing the right neighborhood that had a strong sense of community much like where they were previously located. They particularly enjoy their new straightforward storefront and parking lot, opposed to the confusing and difficult situation they had before. It didn’t help that teachers and customers found their old location to be arduous to get to. Despite that, their success has been a unique combination of a expertise, experience, professionalism, and affordability, topped off with friendly customer service. After the interview, Dave was handing out stickers and Jeff offered me a free t-shirt from a stack they had left over from an event.
Tell me about Flesher – Hinton – What got you or the business started, How did the idea for your business come about and when did you start?
It started as a repair shop in 1951’. Mel Flesher, started the company with his brother in-law, Carl Hinton. They started out by just fixing band and orchestra instruments for local schools. That’s still a large part of our business, but we’ve branched out to retail sales, sheet music and instrument and the like, as well as lessons and instrument rentals. He ran the company with his wife Geraldine for many years, and now their children, Herv and Kristi Flesher, own the business and live here in Wheat Ridge.
That’s great! You guys have been open a very long time…
We are one of the oldest in the state, so yeah, we’ve been here doing this for a long time. I’m the new guy, actually… and I’ve been here 15 years I think, so…(we both laugh hysterically).
(Still fresh meat huh?) Yeah, they’re still hazing me. But seriously, most of the technicians in the repair shop have been here 20 to 30 years, so we have a lot of experience under our belts here.
That’s incredible employee retention to say the least…
Well, it’s a family business so we try to treat everyone like we would our family, so it’s worked out well.
How long have you been located or have lived in Wheat Ridge for? Or why did you move/relocate to Wheat Ridge?
Our business moved here in February, so that’s about 3 months now? Tennyson was just very crowded, and customers found it to be an endeavor just to get there. You couldn’t just swing by on your way and drop a horn off, or get a couple reeds, you’d have to plan an afternoon around it. So we were hearing more and more, especially from teachers, that it was really burdensome to get to the store. Say you have a truckload of tubas that need to be repaired, you can’t park two blocks away and walk them over. So Tennyson was very nice, it’s fast paced and it’s growing, but the rapid growth was making it a lot harder to do what we do. Out here, it’s a little smaller than our building was there, but we’ve got a parking lot which is so much better, it’s just a more functional space. We’ve got space for deliveries, pickups, and our customers now. Our location is overall just much easier to get to get to and more accessible off the highway.
We miss some of the quirks from our old building though, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in that store? It was an old renovated theater from the turn of the century, really old movie theater turned into a music store. A very cool building, it had this gigantic marquis signs hanging over and above the street. We were doing everything spread out over 3 floors though, floors that had been forced into a movie theater over a hundred years (laughs). But yeah, we’re settling in here at the new location nicely, and it’s really starting to feel like home now.
How do you like it so far?
It’s great so far! We’re starting to meet the neighbors, we’ve signed on for the Rumble on 44th, and met some folks from Shop44th, the neighborhood group. It seems like it’s a nice neighborhood community. Coming from Tennyson street, there used to be a lot of the sense of community, but it felt like a lot of that was getting lost as the older businesses either moved or closed up shop. But a lot of those businesses have been moving out here across Sheridan we’ve noticed. There’s a little more room for us to do what we do.
I think the secrets getting out about Wheat Ridge…
A lot of the musicians I know, that grew up in north Denver are now moving out to places like Wheat Ridge because you can still afford to live in a house for a Musicians income.
What has been your biggest challenge for your business?
Getting the word out that we’ve moved, you know, we try to do our social media, update all our listings, get in touch with the press and things like that, but people drive by our old location, and see the signs down and windows papered over, and think that like so many other small, local music stores do, we’ve closed. We’ve been trying to fight the rumors that we’re closed rather then moved which has been fun. We want to let everyone know that we’re still doing what we love, just a little further out west.
What has been the biggest success?
Getting here and getting the doors open, it’s been a very busy couple months but we’re doing great. It’s also been tough getting all of the teachers transitioned in, and it was a challenge getting through all of the inspections and construction while we were still open, but it seems that we are running at full speed now so the big success has been getting back up to normal operating speed (laughs). Who would have thought moving a business from the location they’d been in for more than 60 years would be so much work?
Could you describe one of your typical workdays? What do you find most enjoyable?
The thing I enjoy the most is when a kid comes into the store and wants to play an instrument, and doesn’t know where to start – so you let them hold a violin, then let them try out a clarinet or trumpet, and then they find something that they really like. We do a lot of student rentals here, and we try to make it easy and affordable to get an instrument, because a good instrument can be expensive, and we don’t want that cost to be a barrier to a child, or even an adult, discovering that passion. We also see a lot of parents whose kids have tried soccer or gymnastics or whatever it may be, and now their child wants to join band or orchestra, and they ask “how long are you going to be into this for?” Again, you don’t want that kid to miss out on what may be their passion because of the cost of an instrument. but you know when you get an instruments in a kid’s hand and you see them fall in love with it, that’s fantastic.
Some of those kids, I’ve seen start now, and you watch them come in over the years for lessons and repairs, and eventually they come in and get their first professional instrument or they’re going off to college to play. If you’ve been here long enough, you’ve seen kids go through their own journey, and eventually you’re out gigging with those same kids. It’s really amazing to see it all come full circle. I came here with my family in third grade actually to get my first instrument, so same thing. It’s just really fun to connect kids to instruments and watch them fall in love with it, which is the most rewarding part of any day I’d say.
Does your organization have any big plans for 2016?
Rumble on 44th – we’d like to do a grand opening but we just don’t know when yet. We’re still putting some things away before we get to that point but we’d like to do a big grand opening party in the summer at some point, get some bands and just have a fun time with it. Maybe we’ll do it in July? We’ll get the word out to everybody we can.
If a young entrepreneur walked up and asked for your advice but you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?
Do it because you love doing it, not because of the money. When you have lean times, its nice to do be doing something you enjoy.
Do you have any hobbies or special interests? What is your favorite thing to do while in Wheat Ridge for fun?
I have a croquet league – we play in a lot of parks located in Wheat Ridge. Every week the winner calls the next park, so Apel-Bacher and Randall Park here on the corner, are some of our favorite parks to play in, so we certainly enjoy the facilities. I’m here every day, so I’m trying to learn all of the businesses, my new spring hobby has been to go out walking and try new places, or discovering the local options for lunch. When you get over to 38th, Colorado Plus is really cool; I went there the other day. Grammy’s Goodies is fantastic. Wheat Ridge Lanes is my favorite place to bowl in the city too; I mean cheap beers and no black lights?
If you had the power to solve one and only one problem in the world, what would it be and why?
Hunger. When people can eat, they have time to pursue their passions.
If you could high five one person, living or not, who would it be?
My son. I hug him and high five him every day, and it’s the absolute best thing in the entire world.
The old adage rings true; Age ain’t nothing but a number at Flesher-Hinton, so stop by if you need to get your trumpet fixed, someone in your family is in the market for an instrument, or you just need to pick up some reeds for your son’s sax. Located at 5890 W 44th Ave, Wheat Ridge, CO 80212, they are open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9am to 6pm. They’re also open Wednesday 9am to 8pm, Saturday 9am to 4pm and closed on Sundays. Join us in welcoming them to the neighborhood because after all they’re not just the 2nd oldest music store in Colorado,they’re a local tradition.
Call 303.433.8891 or visit www.FlesherHinton.com to browse their online store, get rental information, see upcoming events or view their private instructor list, and more!