Violin shop enjoys more elbow room.
The building has been an auto glass outlet, a florist's shop and a paint store. Trains rumble past across the street, and the area of town has at times leaned toward a down-at-the-heels label.
But Carl Blackwell is convinced he's found the ideal spot for a full-service violin shop.
His String Stop moved two months ago from rented space in a west Eugene warehouse to the 2,600-square-foot building Blackwell has bought and refurbished at the corner of Railroad Boulevard and North Polk Street, in Eugene's Whiteaker neighborhood.
"Especially the last year and a half, the need for a larger space was obvious," Blackwell says. "When interest rates went down, I started looking for a place to buy."
A former data processor, Blackwell trained in Seattle as a luthier - one who works on musical instruments in the violin family - and then worked in Eugene at Pacific Winds Music until opening the String Stop in cramped quarters on West Broadway in June 2000.
He bought the new store last summer, then spent seven months getting it ready to open.
Lane County property records show that Blackwell purchased the building last August for $135,000, and he said he's put close to $35,000 into its renovation.
The new store offers repair service along with sales of instruments and accessories ranging from sheet music to electronic "pickups" that allow amplification of the instruments.
"The new location is going to allow me to expand in all manner of accessories, in a way I was never able to do before," Blackwell says.
The shop will increase its inventory of instrument-care products, for instance, along with sheet music selections and even violin-related gift items.
With 14 years of experience working on violins, violas, cellos and basses, Blackwell says he knows the territory and is convinced there are customers to fill what would seem a fairly narrow niche. "Like a lot of college towns, Eugene has a fairly thriving musical culture," Blackwell says. "There's a lot of diverse music and music interest."
Blackwell acknowledges that most of the services and products he offers can be gotten elsewhere in the Eugene area, whether from violin makers or music stores. But he says there is no other single outlet for everything offered at the String Stop. "I don't think anyone else specializes with the scope that I do," he says.
The String Stop's hours are from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. It is open for repairs by appointment only on weekday mornings and on Saturdays. The phone number is 683-1909.
Carl Blackwell recently moved his business, the String Shop, from cramped quarters in west Eugene to a 2,600-square-foot building on Railroad Boulevard in the Whiteaker neighborhood. The new store offers repair service along with sales of instruments and accessories.