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StringWorks store opening in Geneva

GENEVA – After 17 years in Appleton, Wisconsin, StringWorks, a cello, violin and viola store, has relocated to 327 Franklin St., Geneva.

Owner Todd French said his was the first company to sell musical instruments on the Internet.

“I happened up on that as a lark in 1997,” French said. “I thought it would be fun to have a website. I was the first to do that in my industry. They said, ‘That is ridiculous. Who’s going to buy an instrument off the Web?’ ”

StringWorks sells instruments, cases and bows, but no accessories or sheet music, French said.

French, who lives in California, said the business in Appleton relied on family, but combined with retirements and a “scrappy” economy, it was time to relocate. He chose Geneva, French said, because of its beauty and location, but also because Evan Lowery would be his on-site manager.

Lowery has a degree in music and business and was one of his scholarship recipients at Illinois Wesleyan University as an undergraduate, French said. Lowery’s then-fiancée, now his wife, is a teacher in the Fox Valley, and if this was going to work, French said, the business had to be relocated in Illinois.

“I scoured around for the best place for us to settle,” French said.

He found Geneva and St. Charles fit the bill for their proximity to Chicago, the area having a high education level and wide variety of industry. He ultimately chose Geneva.

“It really seems perfect,” French said. “It’s tight-knit, separating itself from Chicago. We are our own vibrant community, the Fox Valley.”

The fact the store is in the Fox Valley is perfect, French said, because Appleton in Wisconsin also is part of the Fox Valley.

Lowery, originally from Missouri, met his future wife while they were at college. His wife, Elizabeth Stith, is the daughter of Dr. Herb Stith, a Geneva oral surgeon, and Mary Stith, a member of the Geneva District 304 school board. The couple married in July, Lowery said.

StringWorks is hosting a grand opening during Festival of the Vine this weekend. This includes giveaways, raffles, food by Moveable Feast, and music by Unbande, which performs jazz blues rock classical fusion.

“It will be nice entertainment for people walking around Third Street,” French said.

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