There are several reasons why Flatts & Sharpe Music Store at 6139 N. Sheridan in Rogers Park earns the distinction as one of rogerspark.com's Community Gems.
First, it’s an awesome place to learn how to play a musical instrument. Learn from the finest teachers, including such gifted musicians as guitarist James Weigel. Second, on occasion Flatts & Sharpe offers splendid in house performances – spend a Saturday night watching local musicians and students perform in a spirited and intimate atmosphere.
Finally, meet Flatts & Sharpe's charming and radiant owner, long time RP resident Chris Bell. Read below and learn that this local music store continues to thrive – largely due to Chris' special commitment and focus.
Flatts & Sharpe Achieves Success, Despite Crisis
Well before the COVID-19 crisis radically changed the way music schools do business, Flatts & Sharpe owner Chris Bell began offering virtual music lessons online.
Now, weeks into the crisis, Bell’s foresight is paying off – with great results for her staff of talented local musicians who serve as teachers.
“All 22 of my teachers, all of whom live in Rogers Park, remain employed.” exclaims Bell, “We have 550 students at both our locations (the other store located at 6139 N. Northwest Hwy. in the Norwood Park neighborhood) and so far, all are continuing with their classes.”
As a result of getting a head start with Zoom video conferencing, Flatts & Sharpe adapted quickly and smoothly when Governor Pritzker ordered his "Stay At Home" proclamation. And they feel darn proud to be the only music store presently open in Chicago.
Established in 1976, Flatts & Sharpe has weathered the same bad time’s all of us had. This is the second financial crisis they have been through. “We withstood the last crisis by working with our customers, who also had their own devastating financial situations & created a community through music. Those same customers still remain loyal to us to this day.” They also donated band & orchestra instruments to local schools, including Rickover Naval Academy, Sullivan & Taft High Schools as well as establishing the Flatts & Sharpe Concert Series, providing free music shows at their Rogers Park location for people & families not working.
In 2007 Flatts & Sharpe became members of the NAMM Foundation (The National Association Of Music Merchants) receiving the honor in 2018 to be one of the best 100 music shops in the country. It was through these NAMM conventions, the Flatts & Sharpe staff were educated, through lectures & professional development classes as well as being introduced to the idea of zoom video conferencing for one-on-one music lessons. “We put a format into place that was interactive, fun & continues to sustain the human connection that was already present in face to face lessons.”
Today’s health crisis was a call for immediate action. Within 72 hours, working alongside of Bell, Personal Manager, Ashley Tracey & Rental/Repair Manager Justin Chaves we’re able to mobilize all 22 teachers & 500+ students online. And not one lesson was skipped. “Feedback about these lessons have been nothing but positive & we held onto 95% of students who are committed to lessons through April. “Our teachers & students have learned a lot about technology in a short amount of time!” says Ashley. “The staff, teachers & students are the true heroes of this story.” Justin said. It was also by having great relationships with other music schools that they were able to create & implement a safe platform for their teachers & students by creating all new Gmail & Zoom accounts.
As of right now they are keeping their chins above water. They are down to a one-person crew providing retail for Curbside Pick-Up for students & educators as well as providing tech support for all their online music lessons. They are also a CPS vendor providing gear for students & educators. Unfortunately, with the current Shelter-In-Place, sales are now a fraction of what they were. They are now dependent on their local music community to choose Flatts & Sharpe over shopping online right now. Which is why they had to quickly revamp their website for online sales as well through the Flatts & Sharpe Reverb Store located on the Retail page of their website.
They have applied for every loan & grant out there & giving huge thanks to the Rogers Park Business Alliance for having all that info readily available in a very organized manner.
But have no fear! Flatts & Sharpe are moving forward! First & foremost, a strong shop disinfect & cleaning along with a fresh coat of paint & a new look. They are working on future group programming for such instruments as ukulele, guitar, choral, brass & woodwind ensembles along with an excited & motivated teaching staff ready to dive in!
“We will get through this”, Bell says with a confident glimmer, “And we’ll be stronger, faster & smarter.”
A music store is only as good as the music community it supports. All those at Flatts & Sharpe Music Company feel proud to play a small part in the musicianship of this community.
“Wash your hands & keep practicing!”