For a quarter-century, McCourt's Music has been regarded as one of metro Detroit's go-to retail shops for school music. At the turn of the century, owner Dan McCourt and the company decided to break the company in two, upon realizing his shop was offering "two very distinctly separate businesses" — the band business, and the orchestra business.
"Trying to run them under one roof, we were doing them well, but people weren't taking them seriously," he told Metro Times.
So McCourt's broke in two: The band business kept the McCourt's moniker; the stringed instruments fell under what was initially called the String Shop, a name McCourt admits was a "a little vanilla." After moving brick-and-mortar locations, McCourt said "we wanted to take a leap," and transformed the String Shop into the Detroit Violin Co.
Once the flagship location set sail, the violin company settled into a new location in April on 12 Mile Road in Berkley. Last year alone, the company did 26,000 lessons between four locations, highlighting the importance of the "educational end of things," McCourt says.
We recently caught up with McCourt to chat about how the company came to be.
Metro Times: So you're in your 25th year?
Dan McCourt: McCourt's music just turned 25 years, yep. It turned 25 on April 1.
MT: Were you a string player growing up?
McCourt: (laughs) I was not. I've always been fascinated by violins; I'm a drummer by trade ... [we] realized that the orchestra business was there, and nobody was really doing a great job with it. So we decided to jump on board, and I love them. We get 100-year-old violins in here and you wonder what stories they could tell, if they could speak words and not music. The whole physics end of it is amazing to me.
MT: Do you offer training lessons?
McCourt: Yep, all of the locations — the two McCourt's, and the two Detroit Violin Co. locations — have private studios. And we have about 70 teachers on staff. Last year, we did just over 26,000 lessons between the four stores in 2015, so the educational end of things is huge for us for a number of reasons. We didn't want to just offer sales and say, "Good luck, hope you learn how to play it." We wanted to give them the opportunity to be able to come in and learn it.
MT: Anything else you'd like to add about the company?
McCourt: Well, I think the best part about it is, I tell everybody who works for us, shy of some of our house brands, there's nothing you can get in any of our stores that you can't get somewhere else. The only thing that you can't get anywhere else — can't get online, can't get it in other stores — is the focus on my staff. I mean, there's really, really special people there. They're talented, super friendly, super nice, and that's what a lot of people don't get in a lot of other orchestral-based stores.
The Detroit Violin Co.'s newest location is at 3096 W. 12 Mile Rd. in Berkley; 248-546-0095; thedetriotviolincompany.com