What is new with Flute World?
It has been an exciting and successful year at Flute World and for the entire JL Smith group. We continue to grow in all areas – flute retail, repair, as well as manufacturing and distribution. In May, we purchased Altieri Instrument Bags. We have an incredible team of people who are devoted to bringing musicians exceptional products and a remarkable experience.
Our latest endeavor has been to open a new Flute World location on the West Coast. Flute World San Francisco opened its doors the last week of December. The store is a boutique retail space nestled in the historic North Beach neighborhood. We are thrilled to finally offer West Coast flutists a destination flute shop!
How is it that Flute World decided to open up a location in San Francisco?
As a company, we have a long history of doing business on the West Coast. Every year we hold a California Flute Road show and Pacific Northwest Tour where we bring flutes, piccolos, and headjoints to private teachers, university studios, and various other stops along the way. We have a wonderful client base in the region. Because of our relationship with the flute community in this area, it has always seemed like a natural progression to open a brick and mortar on the West Coast.
On a personal note, I have a love affair with San Francisco! The first time I visited SF was in 2013 (only 5 years ago!). I will never forget the feeling. Something about the vibe combined with the water, the bridges, the landscape, all of the great food, and an incredible music scene, left me with the sense that I’d come home. I have the same experience every time I’m in San Francisco. Perhaps I lived there in a past life! The West Coast has always had a spell on me even though I’m an East Coast gal.
Opening a West Coast flute shop has been in the works for years. We’ve scouted locations in various cities in California, Oregon, and Washington. Ultimately, it was luck (or fate) that we stumbled upon the perfect space in San Francisco in early 2018. Jeff Smith and I were visiting the city and had lunch one day in the North Beach neighborhood (shout out to Alex Xeros for the recommendation!). After lunch, we decided to wander the neighborhood and came across a corner retail space for lease. There was something charming about it, and right away I thought, “That would make a great flute shop!” I snapped a photo of the For-Lease sign and the rest is history. We received the keys to the space in September and opened in late December.
There has never been a major flute shop in this region, and the last gathering place for flutists in the Bay Area was George Koregelos’ House of Woodwinds. We are very excited to fill this void as a place of community and an all-inclusive resource for flutes, piccolos, bass and alto flutes, headjoints, flute accessories, sheet music, and repair.
How will this location be different than your Michigan and North Carolina locations?
For anyone who has visited the flagship Flute World store in Michigan, you know that it’s pretty much the mecca of flute! Our enormous print music catalog is housed there, along with every flute accessory you can imagine, and an entire floor devoted to flute sales and repair. This location is situated on a prominent street in the suburb of Farmington Hills. All orders placed on fluteworld.com ship from this location.
Similarly, our Charlotte facility is located conveniently near the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, in an easy to find spot right off of I-77. In this facility, we have a flute showroom up front, our repair shop in the center of the building, and the back of this space is a large manufacturing area where we design tools and parts that are used in the building and repairing of musical instruments.
While both of these locations are easily accessible, neither are a place where people are just walking by. It is quite a different scenario in San Francisco! The SF shop is nestled in the famous North Beach neighborhood. Steeped in Italian heritage, the streets are lined with fabulous restaurants, cafes, shops, and art galleries. We are minutes from Fisherman’s Wharf and Coit Tower. There are always people out and about, and the amount of walk-in traffic we’ve had thus far is magical! The locals in the neighborhood have been extremely welcoming – it’s a wonderful place to be.
Flute World San Francisco is a boutique version of the flagship store. It features a curated collection of print music titles and accessories. Any item on fluteworld.com can be easily transferred to the SF location. The showroom is a beautiful, open space that is great for flute playing! Additionally, we wanted to offer our SF clients a private trial room to test flutes. The answer was a Zenbooth. These sound booths are beautifully crafted just across the bay in Berkeley, CA and provide just the right amount of sound reduction and privacy when needed. The repair area is situated so that passersby can get a glimpse of the work as it is being done.
What do you plan to do that might be “special” in the San Francisco location?
In January we will launch a “Flute Maker Feature” series. Each month we will host a representative from a flute, piccolo, or headjoint maker. These showcases will include a unique opportunity to try the instruments, time to meet and speak with the manufacturer, and in many cases a performance by a guest artist.
Our first guest is master flute maker Chris Abell of the Abell Flute Company. Chris will be with us on Friday, January 18th from 4:00 to 7:00. This session will include a special performance at 6:00pm by Kate Steinbeck of Pan Harmonia who performs on an Abell wooden flute.
Saturday, January 19th is our official Grand Opening Celebration! It will be a day of performances, workshops, raffles, and artist appearances – including the fabulous Viviana Guzman. This open house will culminate in a reception from 4:00-7:00 with light refreshments. Come celebrate with us!
Our regular business hours are Tuesday - Saturday from 10:00 to 6:00. We are also available to show instruments outside of those hours by appointment.
We have many exciting plans for the new San Francisco shop. This is just the beginning!