Best Musical Instrument Store 2022 | Hoffmann Music | Music and entertainment

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Young photo of Kwak

Owners father and son Allan (left) and Earl Smith.

There are Spokane institutions, and then there’s Hoffman Music.

Waterfront park? Hoffman has been around for more than twice as long. The Davenport Hotel? Hoffman opened a year earlier than the city’s most historic lodging spot.

If the Interior has been around since the founding of Hoffman Music in 1913, it’s a safe bet that a music store’s treasure would have won over 100 Best Of awards.

At the surface level, it’s easy to see why. Whether you’re a professional musician or a weekend hobbyist, strolling through Hoffman’s North Monroe HQ is enough to transport anyone to a state of musical bliss. Rainbow rows of electric guitars, walls of horns and string instruments, or even deeper music-making tools (accordions and steel drums, anyone?), you’re bound to find something to trigger a creative impulse.

But Hoffman’s life force runs deeper than is instantly visible. This place has institutional knowledge that cannot be surpassed. Ask Earl Smith.

Smith has been Hoffman’s president for about 15 years, which would be pretty impressive before you find out about his real permanence at the store. Smith started working at Hoffman when he was in high school… 1950.

When asked why people love Hoffman so much, Smith keeps it simple.

“Well, we’re a complete music store,” he says. “We have a full repair center for virtually every instrument. We carry just about anything you can imagine that has to do with musical instruments and accessories. We have facilities to give lessons. Most people who work here play instruments and are very knowledgeable on them.And, of course, we’ve been here a long, long time.

During this long, long time, Smith has seen the music evolve and the store continually adapt accordingly. It’s crazy to understand, but Smith’s tenure at Hoffman not only predates rap and EDM, it predates rock music.

“We try to be on the cutting edge,” Smith says. “Going through the rock and roll years…it gave us a big boost when rock and roll became so popular. Many, many people formed their own rock bands, and they needed a lot of support. ‘instruments, and they bought everything you could imagine.”

A trumpeter himself, Smith has a soft spot for the musical instrument era, and catering to local school music and orchestra students remains a key focus for Hoffman. The store always works with the directors of local school bands to ensure that students can enjoy learning music.

And while that school niche has taken a hit during the pandemic due to the suspension of music programs, Hoffman has been able to sustain itself thanks to booming sales of guitars, as well as drums and keyboards. (They also took time during the shutdown to remodel and reorganize.)

Hoffman Music is well over 100 years old, but it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

2nd PLACE: Mark’s Guitar Shop
3RD PLACE: Edit Music Center
BEST OF NORTHERN IDAHO: Burt’s Music and Sound, Coeur d’Alene


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