Name: Gerry Field (Gerald)
Hometown: Highland Park (I grew up in Chicago)
Name of business: Field Violin Workshop
Describe what you do/sell/serve:
We make, repair, restore and sell violins, violas, cellos and bows. Our rental program includes all sizes of string instruments. We serve all bowed string players, both students and professionals. We are very experienced in adjusting instruments and in all specialized restoration techniques. We also consult and appraise and consign instruments.
What sets you apart from similar businesses?
Our professional training and many years of experience. My wife, Jutta, and I are also are musicians. I have played professionally most of my adult life. I graduated from a 3 ½-year violin-making school in 1979 and studied restoration techniques for four summers at Oberlin College and U of New Hampshire. I have also participated in several workshops over the years.
What made you want to open this type of store?
The string community needs honest, professional people who are reliable and know how to handle their instruments. We opened this type of store to offer a unique experience for any bowed string player and be in a place where we could do what we do best.
Why did you open a business in Highland Park?
The Ravinia business district (in Highland Park) is in a location where music is truly appreciated and taken seriously by many of our neighbors. There are many musicians in the area. It made sense to locate here.
Why this specific location?
The hardware store that used to be here closed and the building owner sub-divided the shops. We moved out of our shop in Lake Forest to Ravinia because it was a better space for us. That was in 1991 (We have had our business since 1980). We also live very close by.
What obstacles did you find when you started?
There were very few obstacles. Moving a violin shop is a big deal and that took some time. We had to design our shop and build a few things but every business goes through that. The city welcomed us and we had some requests that were easily done.
Did you make use of any programs or incentives offered by an organization or local government?
In my first year at violin making school I received a tuition scholarship from the local Kiwanis club in Chicago. At the time, it was called The Kenneth Warren School of Violin Making. It is now The Chicago School of Violin Making. One of the main instructors lives in Highland Park.
If you could offer local officials one piece of advice to make their town more attractive to entrepreneurs what would it be?
It seems that a lot of good things in the works for the Ravinia Business District. I'd say some problems not yet resolved are parking and not always providing enough lighting. That said, a lot of good work has been done here and it is appreciated.
What mistakes did you make?
Probably a lot, but I can't recall anything specific.
What did you do right?
Opened up a violin shop in the North Shore where music is important and there are great musicians all around us.
What advice would you give to someone else looking to open a business in Ravinia?
It is a relatively quiet business area so at times that can be a challenge. Since parking is an issue, alternative travel is a good idea — bicycle, train or walk — to work.
Field Violin Workshop
847-433-8522; email: email@example.com
Hours: Tuesday through Friday 9:30 am to 6 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (It is a good idea to call first.)