Tell us a little bit about your recent move.
We found out about 9 months ago that our beloved building in Columbus Circle, in the heart of the musical center of the universe, is closing.
Why is it closing?
Because they are going to build the next luxury condominium building, so not only did the Flute Center have to move, but everyone in the building had to be out, and we were only given 6 months notice, in which time we had to secure a new space and arrange for the entire move to happen. We knew that we wanted to be in the New York City corridor (no farther south than 25th St.) It needed to be close to the subways and easy to get to, so after looking at many spaces, we found our new space in Chelsea, across from the Fashion Institute of Technology on 27th St. and 7th Ave.
What does it entail to actually get a new space in New York City?
We were very lucky in that I had hired a young man to work at the Flute Center who was a trumpet player and also a real estate agent in Manhattan, so we called him to ask for help, and he took a real personal interest in getting us the right space. The biggest hurdle in locating a space was finding a building that would allow a sound producing business. Within those parameters, we looked at between 15 and 20 spaces, and the one we ended up with was one that required a sense of vision because it was a space that was used as a repository for air conditioners, radiators, lumber, etc. but there was something about it we liked. It had a lot of windows and light. We thought the acoustics would be good, and it was large enough that we could divide the room up in a way that fit our vision and met our requirements. We designed the space ourselves. We knew that we needed to increase our trial rooms from 2 to 3 and to create a much better and larger masterclass/recital space, that could also accommodate a piano. We now have a beautiful baby grand in the space. We can fit over 100 people with an unobstructed view of the artist. The space took 3 months to build out, but it's absolutely gorgeous and we're very happy with it.
I believe I wouldn't be here without Sir James Galway -- at least not in the form you see today.
How many employees work at Flute Center now, and how did you assemble such a great team?
We have 9 full time employees, 2 part time employees and 2 interns. I would like to think that I attract the right people, but also, somehow the right people find their way into the shop. We miraculously seem to attract players that fit the personality of our shop. It's one of those "other worldly" things that I cannot explain. We really have created a family of flutists that run the Flute Center. They do the processes that it takes to run this large business in ways that I could never do anymore on my own. I started back in 1982, and I always thought it would be a little mom and pop business. I never thought in a million years that the Flute Center would become what it is today. I'm amazed every day I come into work that the Flute Center is what it is. All of our employees have either a Masters or DMA degrees in flute performance. They are a unique and special ensemble of employees, and we all love and respect each other.
Are there any new plans or projects happening?
There are great things around the corner! Nothing I can quote now, but your readers will enjoy the ride and expansion with us! We now have a new sheet music department which is ever expanding. We also carry accessories now. Julian and I have a goal in mind and we're moving towards that goal, which includes lots of new initiatives. Two new initiatives your readers may have noticed are our Salon masterclass series and our podcast series (Flutes Unscripted), which just started its fourth season.
You've been in this business for a long time. Do you have an exit strategy, or do you even want one?
I love what I do everyday. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. If you haven't visited the Flute Center, you are missing a total flute experience. Like we say, "You'll never know who you'll meet at the Flute Center." So, from that perspective, I don't need to move anywhere, but at the same time I do think about the future of FCNY and how I relate to that future."
What would you be doing if you weren't running the Flute Center?
I love cooking and I would have loved to become a world class chef. We all have gifts and my gift is being very relatable to people. I have a unique ability to engage all different kinds of people from different walks of life in meaningful ways. I basically bring people together. I get to do that everyday at the Flute Center, so I'm doing exactly what I was meant to do. What more could one ask?
Does the new location concern you since your customers were so used to Lincoln Center?
I was initially afraid that no one would find me, but now more people are walking through the doors than ever before. It always shocks me when someone walks through the door. How did they figure it out! I can barely find the new space! Our mission is to expand the FCNY brand into new markets and places, and to gain greater awareness of FCNY and flute in general.
What or whom do you credit for your success?
Well Andrea, here we sit in Switzerland in the lobby of the Galway 30th Anniversary Flute Festival. So, I must take this time to say quite honestly that I believe I wouldn't be here without Sir James Galway -- at least not in the form you see today. Jimmy walked into my life in 1983 and has stood as one of my biggest supporters over these many years. I think this stands true for most of us in the flute industry. Sir James is simply that important and that influential. I cannot say enough about him as a human and as a musician. You, The Flute View and everything we see in our flute lives are a direct result of this man. And he continues to expand the love of flute across the world. So, in the end I must say thank you to Sir James and Lady Jeanne for all they have done to enhance our wonderful flute world and personally, to make my business and all other flute businesses possible!