When Theresa Miller’s piano teaching business ran afoul of local zoning regulations, Miller thought of a friend who had helped her out of tough spots before.
Miller knew that sheet music specialist Kelly Cook, who had always located hard-to-find music for her on short notice, was out of work and looking for an opportunity.
“This all came out of need because zoning wanted me to not teach out of my home,” explained Miller. “After it happened, I talked to Kelly and said, ‘Why don’t we go into business together?’”
The result of the fortunate partnership is Miller’s Sheet Music & Studios, a combination instructional studio and music retail shop offering sheet music, teaching accessories and supplies ranging from cork grease and rosin to instrument strings and metronomes.
While Miller handles the instructional side of the business, Cook manages the front of the store.
“I am the owner but we are partners,” said Miller. “I couldn’t do it without her, and she couldn’t do it without me.”
The business, located at Bonita Plaza on Bonita Beach Road and Old 41 Road, is the only combination studio shop of its kind between Naples and North Fort Myers, said Miller.
Opening a business in the current recession can be risky, but Miller is confident that the store’s unique combination of instruction and retail will succeed.
“Teaching wise, I’ve kept my 55 to 60 students throughout the past year,” she said. “I think music lessons are something the parents don’t want to take away from kids unless they absolutely have to. They’ll stop going to movies or buying video games first.”
The business offers piano and guitar lessons to students of all levels and ages, she said.
Although retail operations begin May 2, Miller has been teaching from the location since April 16. Miller, who has been teaching since the 1970s, said she enjoys working from her small in-store piano studio.
“I love it because the parents have a nice area to relax and wait,” she said. “It’s also a different atmosphere, more professional, when the students come to the studio.”
The 1,750 square foot space has two additional small studios where Larry Maas and Brian Gunder teach.
Maas is a familiar local performer who recently returned to teaching piano. Gunder, who recently moved to Bonita Springs from Indiana, teaches guitar.
“This place will be gangbusters once it gets going,” said Maas, who regularly plays at local country clubs, churches and restaurants. “I’ve been down here 30 years and haven’t seen a sheet music store between Fort Myers and Naples in that time.”
Sheet music is Cook’s specialty. She has music from 53,000 different songs that can be printed instantly in the store. She can also order and deliver harder to find music, including different arrangements for popular songs that match different levels of ability, more quickly than larger music and bookstores.
“I have been doing this for six years and love finding music for my customers,” she said. “If it is in print, I can get it for you within two or three days.”
Cook and Miller will host a grand opening event on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition to discounts on lessons and musical accessories, the event will feature food and drinks, plus musical entertainment from Maas and Gunder.