MARION — “When we walked into this space I just had a vision for what it could be,” John Schultz recalled.
He and his wife, Rebecca, pointing out renovations that included new flooring, ceilings, HVAC, lighting, and insulation in the walls for sound proofing.
The new location for their business, Schultz Strings, is at the crossroads of First Avenue and Collins Road, on the juncture of Cedar Rapids and Marion.
Perhaps one of the most striking features of the new location is the 30-foot walnut display wall at the front of the store that Schultz envisioned and constructed to display the store’s inventory of instruments.
“We love to help people find their dream instrument, whether it’s a very old, fine instrument or a beginner instrument,” he said.
The new space features several studios for lessons, and Schultz said he’s excited that the new location allows for performance and workshop space.
“We enjoy performing with our students and bringing in guest artists to host programs that are fundraisers to benefit organizations in the community,” he said.
They also added an e-commerce section to their website.
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“This business really grew organically,” he said. “Now we work with several dozen school districts, are teaching lessons and offer repairs and sales of instruments. We have instruments for students just getting started all the way through specialty professional instruments.”
The couple opened Schultz Strings in 2009. John long has been a Suzuki violin instructor and Rebecca has a background in not-for-profit arts management.
They started their business with eight violins hanging in a closet in a bedroom of their home.
“We thought if we could sell a couple of violins a year, that would be great,” Schultz said.
Soon the business grew to having violins take over the living room.
“Schools started asking us if we did instrument rentals,” he noted.
As they began working with more school districts for instrument rentals, they realized they would need to move the business out of their home. They rented a retail space on First Avenue N.E. in Cedar Rapids where they could meet with clients by appointment only.
“But soon we were setting up part-time office hours,” he recalled.
They hired their first full-time employee in 2012 and then Rebecca herself went full-time in 2013. “To do that was a really big deal for us,” Schultz recalled. “Then we had all this extra energy to dedicate to the business.”
Now Schultz Strings employees about 16 people, five of whom work full time for the company.
“We have just amazing people that work here,” John said. “To grow from two people to now 16 employees with hundreds of teachers and thousands of students impacted, that’s really exciting.”
While they are growing and settling into their new space, their day-to-day roles remain the same.
“I still teach about 12 to 15 students each week,” Schultz said. “I host workshops around the state and work on enhancing our relationships with the school districts we work with. We do a lot of strategic inventory analysis for schools to make sure they are getting access to quality instruments.
“I also do occasional restoration. And I also check in with our staff to make sure it is an energetic and valuable experience to work here.”
He that, “Rebecca is the glue that holds this place all together.”
He noted she handles all the human resources and accounting duties.
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“She makes sure all the numbers are accurate and in place. She is what helps make this a sustainable business,” he said.
“We changed the game on rentals as we saw parents struggle to decide what kind of instrument to purchase or rent for their student,” Schultz said. “We only offer a premium instrument and because we do so much volume we are able to get a really great price and hold one-third of the inventory.”
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At a glance
• Co-owners: John and Rebecca Schultz
• Company: Schultz Strings
• Address: 1190 Twixt Town Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids
• Phone: (844) 443-6159
• Website: schultzstrings.com