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Flatts and Sharpe Music Co. Plans Expansion to Norwood Park

By Benjamin Woodard | January 17, 2014 9:26am
Flatts and Sharpe Music Co.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

ROGERS PARK — Flatts & Sharpe Music Co., an independent music shop and school on Sheridan Road, plans to open a second location in Norwood Park.

Owner Chris Bell, 46, said she bought the shop, at 6749 N. Sheridan Road, from founder Ed Mooney in 2007 — and business has been reverberating ever since.

"I still sometimes can't believe that this little plan I had worked," said the former pipefitter. "It was so simple, and it worked."

She plans to open the new location, at 6139 N. Northwest Highway, on March 1, complete with a replica of the store's iconic green-and-gold hand-painted sign.

Bell, who grew up at Clark and Devon avenues, said she took her first guitar lessons 20 years ago at Flatts & Sharpe.

 Owner Chris Bell took over the music shop in 2007 and has more than 300 students in Rogers Park.
Flatts and Sharpe Music Co.
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"I bought my first guitar, my second guitar and my third guitar here," she said, now sitting behind the store's counter.

Nearly seven years ago she walked by the shop, then owned by Mooney, and saw a small sign in the window: "Business for Sale."

Ever since, she couldn't shake the idea of taking over.

"We started off with 14 students and a pretty dusty old inventory, and now we're at about 300 students and opening a second location," she said.

With 22 teachers and six mostly sound-proof practice rooms in Rogers Park, Bell said she has striven to build "a community through the arts."

Her nephew, Jake Bell, 13, has been taking drum lessons for years because he likes how it sounds and especially likes "to hit things with sticks."

"That's what it's all about," the elder Bell said. "It's about the community of people."

Brian Coehler, 38, has taught guitar at Flatts & Sharpe for four years.

"It's such a neighborhood place; There are so many people coming and going," he said. "It'll be interesting to see how the energy will transfer" to Norwood Park.

Colleague Justin Chaves, while stringing an old guitar, agreed.

"This has been the one job that I like everyone I work with, including my boss," the 30-year-old said. "I have the most righteous boss."

Bell said she's part of a dying breed of independent shop owners willing to take a risk on expansion.

"The independent shops are a thing that don't really exist anymore," she said. "We're so fortunate to have an independent movie theater, a bookstore and a music store in this neighborhood, like, in this one little area."

And that independence, she says, is what sets Flatts & Sharpe apart: "That's going to be the big difference between a mom and pop shop and a big conglomerate corporation."