Like most business owners, this summer did not go as expected for Brian Haines, of Canby Music.
When the Covid-19 pandemic forced Haines to close his doors in March, he shifted his focus to the renovation of the nearly 100-year-old house next to Neurotherapeutic Pediatric Therapies on North First Street — which he had purchased last year to turn into Canby Music’s new home.
Though the shutdown was in no way good for his business, it did afford Haines lots of time to work on the project (and save on contractor fees).
“It’s been a several-years journey getting this done,” he said. “Especially since March when everybody shut down including my store, I became a full-time construction worker for a little while. I came over here and have been working ever since.”
Though the new location is zoned for commercial use, it has never been used for anything other than a home since it was first built in 1923 by a man named Chris Huiras.
Haines had previously renovated the exterior — including painting it an “on-brand” Canby Music blue — and done some grounds work, but the interior remodel was far from complete.
Haines and his “crew” — which include his father, Norm, 7-year-old son Henry and new employee, Rhys Hodge — took the interior down to the original studs and subfloor and have carefully rebuilt it this summer from the ground up.
Hodge, a former ski instructor from Colorado and self-described “band nerd,” signed on with Canby Music in January and had just enough time to acquire all of two clients for brass lessons before the coronavirus shut them down.
He still needed a job, and Haines needed work — just not the kind Hodge had been expecting.
“I said, ‘Well, if you don’t mind manual labor, I have plenty of work for you to do over here,” Haines laughed.
Hodge agreed to the deal, and despite some initial trepidation, he’s glad he did.
“I signed up to be an instrument tech. Before I knew it, I was shoveling holes and putting concrete in,” he said with a chuckle. “But it’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed working with him.”
The reasons for the move are fairly obvious, and can be summed up in a single word: space. At Canby Music’s original location, further up Northwest First Street, Haines’ tiny office doubled as a lesson room, storage room, break room, cafeteria and — on several occasions — a podcast recording studio.
The new store has four dedicated (and soundproof) lesson rooms downstairs. A sparking new retail showroom has been created on the ground floor, while the top floor (for employees only) is an expansive office, storage area and repair workshop.
The layout and design of Canby Music’s new lesson rooms predate the coronavirus by several months, but it is interesting how well they fit into the new mandates for social distancing.
Cameras and closed-circuit televisions even allow instructors and others to watch students and offer feedback without being in the same room.
“It’s a lot more room,” Haines said, standing in the downstairs space last week. “In the old space, we were making it work but we were way at capacity. We were doing 80 lessons a week out of those two rooms. Now, we’ll be able to do a lot more.
“And,” he added with a laugh, “we actually have windows in the lesson rooms. I’ve never had windows before.”
The extra space is also needed in the workshops because of the different tools and techniques needed for different types of musical instruments.
“Working on guitars is really fine and delicate,” Haines says. “Working on brass and woodwinds is like working on a car. You’ve got torches, you’ve got chemicals. Metal shavings everywhere. So we’re going to have two repair shops and keep those two things away from each other.”
As of this week, the store has officially moved to its new location, and is now doing all sales and service from its new digs at 590 NW First Avenue. For more information, check out their website, canbymusic.com, or give them a call at 503-263-2263.