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ELKHART -- After 96 years, Blessing Music Co. is preparing to leave the Band Instrument Capital of the World.
The music store will be closing and relocating to Mishawaka as part of a reorganization by the new owner, Quinlan & Fabish, a Chicago-based music retailer. Plans are fluid but the move will definitely be completed by the end of August, said Yvonne Sell, store manager.
Also, the Blessing store in South Bend will be closing and moving to Mishawaka although the time is still being determined, Sell said.
As a part of the move, the Blessing name will be replaced with Quinlan & Fabish.
"It'll be bigger and better," Sell said of the Mishawaka store.
Calls to George Quinlan Jr. and George Quinlan Sr., both of Quinlan & Fabish, were not returned.
The new store, located in the former Tile Mart building at 130 W. Edison Road, will have a larger inventory of instruments with more professional models along with more music accessories. In addition, the repair shop, which is already moving in, will be upgraded and have new equipment.
Renovations to the Mishawaka location, set to start after the Elkhart store moves in, will create teaching studios for private lessons. However, Sell noted, not all of the musicians teaching at Blessing's in Elkhart will be going to the new location. They are telling Sell they do not want to wait the three months for the new studios to be built and their students do not want to drive the distance to Mishawaka.
Customers, too, have mixed emotions about the relocation, Sell said. She understands their uncertainty.
"Personally for me, it's hard," she said. "In Elkhart, it's a death but when somebody dies, a new one comes along."
When the Blessing Music stores were sold to Quinlan & Fabish in February, the new owners said the two businesses shared a culture and commitment to school music programs. The emphasis on service continues, Sell said, and will be enhanced as the new store will be open extended hours and offer a rent-to-own instrument purchase program.
Also, Elkhart schools will remain on the store's service and delivery routes.
Blessing has leased its store on East Jackson Boulevard for 11 years, Sell said. Once the last instrument is removed, the building will be empty and waiting for another occupant.