Business Profile

Posted: Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Title and firm: James Hanes is the owner of The String Shop.

Services: Hanes rents, sells and repairs stringed instruments from half-sized violins to electric guitars.

Biographical information: Before becoming a luthier, a maker of stringed instruments, Hanes made his living as a scientist.

"I was a marine biologist in a prior life," Hanes said.

But he always like working with wood. Science and art combine in the making of violins. Science comes in during the design and measuring of the instrument where tolerances can be tenths of a millimeter, Hanes said. The artistry comes in the hand-carving of the wood.

Hanes, 47, apprenticed for three years, came back to Juneau and opened his shop 18 years ago.

The Internet is proving to be a competitive force, he said, and there are five other music shops in town when the industry average is one for every 30,000 people.

"The competition is fierce and I am the least well positioned," he said, noting his downtown location is inconvenient when the city's main population is in the Mendenhall Valley.

Hanes used to make his living building violins, but that didn't work out so now he repairs guitars, violins and other instruments. Short repair jobs are made during the winter and longer repairs are saved for the summer, he said. But he would build a violin again if requested by someone with enough money - from $10,000 to $15,000.

"I would jump at the chance," he said.

Family: Hanes is married to Anne "Salty" Hanes and they have no children.

Notable: Hanes and his wife bought a house and remodeled it to house the shop downstairs with living space upstairs. The shop moved from the Emporium Mall last fall.

Quotable: "It's a great room to sneeze (in)," he said of his retail showroom because when someone does, you can hear the slight resonance and strings of the instruments along the wall.

Employees: Zero.

Contact: The shop is located downtown at 315 Third St. and the phone number is 463-3992. Shop hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday to allow time for Hanes to repair instruments uninterrupted.

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