When repair jobs increased by around 4,000 instruments a year, Flint Hills Music owner Thomas Silkman found himself taking a leap of faith in an already bizarre year.
Silkman recently moved his business half a block down the street to 701 Commercial St.
“When we looked at the new location,” he said. “It seemed like the perfect fit for our operation and allowed us to keep a small retail area and also expand our repair shops and storage spaces. “
The pandemic has created challenges for the music store, just like other small businesses. Silkman said that throughout the pandemic, there has been an increase in repairs shipped from out of states across the country.
“More and more people are staying at home and using online services,” he said. “Including the stuffing of their flute or the overhaul of their trumpet. This is an area that we plan to continue to grow and expand using our new setup and the capabilities of our website.
The move was also a big step forward in times of uncertainty, Silkman said. However, the move turned out to be a blessing; this allowed FHM to assess the business and make changes as they moved into the new location.
The new building allows FHM to maintain the commercial area while expanding the repair shop and storage space.
“We’re going to be a lot stronger because of it, and in a way it seemed like a new start,” he said. “We are now better equipped to serve our current customers and have improved capabilities to serve remote customers and use our online services for sales, rentals and repairs. “
Silkman explained that the new building has beautiful features, such as an ornate ceiling, terrazzo flooring, and large windows.
“It’s really fun having the two big safes from when the building was also a bank,” he said. “We have a large, dedicated shipping and receiving area, as well as a warehouse to serve our customers online as well, which has really helped us during the pandemic. The complete separation of the retail area has been great and allows us to keep the retail space in pristine condition without the areas merging into each other.
“This decision will benefit customers with increased repair capacity and a dedicated shipping area. We can handle a larger volume of instruments at the same time, and our turnaround time will increase by having everything in one place rather than using storage and offsite areas.
Silkman said FHM is very excited about the addition of dedicated repair rooms. The ground floor at 701 rue Commerciale was last used as an optometrist’s office.
The examination rooms have been converted into workspaces dedicated to technicians for wind instruments, brass and strings.
“This allowed us to customize the workspaces for each type of repair and their individual business tools required for things like polishing, sanding, lacquering, curing,” he said. “The whole operation is being put in place in a much more efficient, functional and professional manner. It has been an incredible improvement in the workflow and the environment.
The group and orchestra have not been the same since the start of the pandemic, and learning has shifted to schools from a distance. Silkman looks forward to schools hopefully safely returning to some normalcy this year.
“We have many customers and friends who have gone to extreme lengths to make the most of the pandemic for their students and continue to provide quality music education,” he said. “I really hope [students] 100% return to the classroom and experience rehearsals, concerts, marching band and all other music related events in the same way as before the pandemic. “
The transition to a new building during the pandemic brought FHM together to work on the project. The staff at FHM and the Silkman family have worked hard to make the new location feel right at home for years to come.
Flint Hills Music is open 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 701 Commercial St. Monday through Friday and 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Saturday. Call 620-342-4553 or visit their website at flinthillsmusic.com for more information on their services and instruments.