When repair jobs increased by approximately 4,000 instruments a year, Flint Hills Music owner Thomas Silkman found himself taking a leap of faith during an already strange year.
Silkman recently moved his business half a block down the street into 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 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 in from out of states across the country.
“People are staying home more and utilizing online services,” he said. “Including getting their flute re-padded, or trumpet overhauled. This is an area we plan to continue to grow and expand utilizing our new set up and website capabilities.”
Moving locations was also a big leap during times of uncertainty, Silkman said. However, the move turned out to be a blessing; it allowed FHM to evaluate the business and make changes as they moved into the new location.
The new building provides FHM to maintain the retail area while expanding the repair shop and storage space.
“We are going to be much stronger because of it, and in a way it seemed like a fresh start,” he said. “We are now better equipped to serve our current customers and have enhanced capabilities to service remote customers and utilize our online services for sales, rentals and repairs.”
Silkman explained that the new building has beautiful features, like an ornate ceiling, terrazzo flooring and large windows.
“It is really fun having the two large walk-in vaults from the days of the building being a bank as well,” he said. “We have a large dedicated shipping and receiving area, and warehousing to service our online customers as well, which has really helped us during the pandemic. Having the retail area completely separate has been great, and allows us to keep the retail space in top shape without the areas blending into one another.
“This move will benefit customers with increased capacity for repairs and a dedicated shipping area. We can handle a larger volume of instruments at the same time, and our turnaround time will increase having everything at one location rather than utilizing storage and offsite areas.”
Silkman said that FHM is most excited about the addition of dedicated repair rooms. The main floor at 701 Commercial St. was last used as an optometrist office.
The exam rooms have been converted into dedicated technician workspaces for woodwinds, brass and string instruments.
“This has allowed us to customize the workspaces for each type of repair and their individual trade tools required for things like buffing, sanding, lacquering, curing,” he said. “The entire operation is set up in a much more efficient, functional and professional way. It has been an incredible improvement in work flow and environment.”
Band and orchestra has not been the same since the pandemic began and learning shifted remotely for schools. Silkman is looking forward to schools hopefully and safely returning to some normalcy this year.
“We have many clients and friends who have dedicated extreme effort into making the most of the pandemic for their students and continue to provide quality music education,” he said. “I really hope [students] get back into the classroom 100% and get to experience rehearsals, concerts, marching band and all other music related events the same as they did before the pandemic.”
Transitioning to a new building during the pandemic brought FHM together to work on the project. FHM staff and Silkman’s family have worked hard into making the new location feel like home for years to come.
Flint Hills Music is open 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. 701 Commercial St. Monday - Friday and 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Saturdays. Call 620-342-4553 or visit their website at flinthillsmusic.com for more information about their services and instruments.