As one of downtown Colorado Springs' oldest businesses, Meeker Music is as familiar as a favorite song - a place where generations of families have rented instruments for their school-aged kids, sought repairs or purchased sheet music.
But after 38 years of operating in three locations on Bijou Street, Meeker Music is moving, although it's not about to leave downtown.
Meeker is relocating to the former Home Lighting building at 624 N. Tejon St. from 113 E. Bijou St., say husband-and-wife owners Ken and Connie Hamman. They hope to be in their new location around Aug. 1.
Connie's father, Charles Meeker Jr., launched the business in 1975 after he retired as the vocal music supervisor for Colorado Springs School District 11. It started at 11 E. Bijou, moved to 121 E. Bijou about four years later and settled in its current Bijou location about 20 years ago.
"We've always been downtown," Ken Hamman said. "It's probably tradition more than anything. It's where Connie's dad started the store. It's always been kind of a staple of downtown. We've never really entertained the thought of moving out of downtown. For what we do, we're basically the only store in this part of town."
The move was born out of opportunity for the Hammans.
Home Lighting - itself a downtown institution since 1952 - moved earlier this year from its longtime home at 624 N. Tejon. Home Lighting owner Jim Walters said he was seeking smaller space, and moved to 319 N. Tejon in April.
While Walters wanted less space, the Hammans were looking for more. The former Home Lighting building is 18,000 square feet, which is about 10,000 square feet larger than Meeker's Bijou location, Connie Hamman said.
Meeker has five lesson studios at its Bijou location. The North Tejon space - currently being remodeled - will accommodate seven, she said. The two-story Tejon Street building also will allow Meeker to grow into the upstairs space, which might be used for recitals, Connie Hamman said.
The building's $1.1 million price tag also was right, she said.
"It was a good opportunity," Connie Hamman said.
Despite the rough economy in recent years, Meeker has seen steady growth in its rentals and other operations, the Hammans said. Not only do many people turn to music during tough times, but schools in the Pikes Peak region have held tight to their music and arts programs. Instrument rentals for kids who play in school bands and orchestras is a significant part of Meeker's business, Ken Hamman said.
But the Springs area also is home to adults who play in community bands for their own enjoyment and to give concerts, he said.
"Music's a very important part of life in Colorado Springs," Ken Hamman said. "We're very fortunate."
When Meeker moves, however, it will have to leave behind a familiar jazz-oriented mural that was painted on one of its Bijou Street windows in 2000. The mural was painted by a professional artist, David Gonzalez who wanted to trade his artistic talent for an instrument for one of his children, Hamman said.
"It's got a lot of attention," Hamman said.
At the new location, Hamman said he hopes his grandson - also an artist - will paint a new mural, possibly on a brick wall inside the Tejon Street building.
"I'd love to see him do kind of like a silhouette of something similar to this," Hamman said of the jazz mural.
Meeker has two other stores that will remain in their present locations: in the Woodmen Plaza Shopping center at Woodmen Road and Rangewood Drive in northern Colorado Springs, and at 6330 S. Highway 85/87 in Fountain.
Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228 Twitter @richladen
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