Steamboat Springs’ longtime music store is ready for the final arc

Collen and Steve Boynton sit inside the First Strings Music store on Monday, July 11, 2022. The couple have sold the space to Yampa Valley Design and will close the store on August 10.
John F. Russell / Steamboat Pilot and Today

Steve and Colleen Boynton opened First Strings Music 15 years ago in hopes of giving back, contributing to the community where they lived, and of course, bringing some music to Northwest Colorado.

The couple knew the news they shared on Monday morning, July 11, that the full-service music store in Steamboat Springs would be closing August 10, was not going to be music to many who call Steamboat home.

“It’s our second home. We spend as much time here as we do at home,” Colleen said. bittersweet. But we are not getting any younger, and it is time for us to do something else. Steve becomes a musician and I’m going to start painting.



Over the years, the store has benefited from the support of the community, including customers who range from talented professional musicians to school children picking up an instrument for the first time.

“As a guitarist, this store was a huge improvement for any music store in this town,” said Randy Kelley, a local musician. “Steve brought an incredible level of skill and knowledge to this city. Besides being an awesome guitarist in jazz, blues, classical and folk, he was just the nicest guy and was always so helpful.



Steve attributed the company’s success to its focus on providing needed services, and he said his approach was more about giving back than making money.

He said the idea was formed after meeting local musician Dave Allen at a cafe in downtown Steamboat just before the store opened in late 2006.

“When people move to town, they’re always looking for opportunities based on what our town can do for them,” Steve said. “(Allen) told me that really successful people try to bring something new that actually benefits our city instead of approaching Steamboat as a resource to be exploited.”

First Strings spent the first two years in the Taylor Building at 1744 Lincoln Ave. At the time, Steve, who repaired string instruments and made a small recording at home, was thrilled to have the new space.

But it didn’t take long before he and Colleen realized they needed more space to work.

So he and Colleen bought the last remaining space in Logger’s Lane, which had just been built. After purchasing the spot, Steve set to work transforming it to meet the needs of the store and the community it served.

At over 3,000 square feet, the space offered plenty of room for acoustic, electric, bass guitars, and even ukuleles. Customers have also found keyboards and all the accessories a musician could need in the blink of an eye on the night of a big concert.

“When I have a problem with something, First Stings was always there,” Kelley said. “If my pedal board or my guitar did something funny, I could just go to Steve and he could either fix it or show me where I could go to get it fixed. This knowledge base and accessibility to repairs for my instruments I will just miss you.

Of course, First Strings offered more than just guitars, as the store also sold and rented band instruments like saxophones and clarinets. The store also had violins and other stringed instruments often found in orchestras.

“We sold pretty much everything,” Steve said.

The store also offered several rooms in the back where local music teachers could rent space and inspire future generations with their lessons, be it vocals, piano, guitar or any other instrument.

Additionally, Steve had a recording studio in one of the rooms and often worked with local bands and musicians to record their work at a professional level.

His repair skills allowed the shop to repair any stringed instrument, and with his knowledge and connections to other talented locals, he could line up repairs for just about any musical instrument. or piece of equipment.

The store also took the initiative to arrange rentals for local schools and service instruments that needed repair. Steve said he is currently working on transferring that part of the business.

“We try to reach all of our existing rental customers, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do,” Steve said. “Sometimes they pick up the phone or answer an email. Sometimes they don’t… If you are a rental customer, we continue to service your instrument and will contact you if anything changes.

Steve and Colleen said that over the past 15 years, the store has become something of a community hub where musicians can congregate and young students can come and go based on their own musical aspirations.

They say the store’s prominence only grew with customers coming from all over northwest Colorado, including Meeker, Craig, Walden and Wyoming, as well as Steamboat Springs, Glenwood, Grand Junction and Denver. .

For many years, First Strings was the only music store in northwest Colorado.

Steve and Colleen are hoping someone in the area will step in and open their own music store. Treble in the Yampa recently opened its doors to Craig, and it might help fill the void.

First Strings began the process of eliminating its remaining merchandise with a gradual closing sale. However, once the inventory is complete, that’s it.

The store is open from 12 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The Boyntons said they always knew the day would come when they would switch gears and pursue other things in their lives. The clock started ticking after Colleen’s youngest son graduated from Steamboat Springs High School in 2021, they said.

Earlier this year, Yampa Valley Design bid on the location and the deal closed last week.

Steve, who grew up just outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan, said it was a tough decision. In Michigan, he’s often visited a cool music store, and he knows firsthand how inspiring a setting like this can be.

He still remembers walking into that store, which he described as a hip place that sold cheap guitars, and the impact it had on him.

“For parents who want their kids to play, there’s nothing quite like walking into a place like this,” Steve said. “I still remember going to that place and how it made me feel.”