As Tony Barrette strings lights alongside a saxophone at his work station, he explains how he's working to fix the instrument for a high school student in Frisco.
One piece was missing that normally takes two weeks to get in the shop, but the student needs it back tomorrow. Instead, he just made it himself, he explains casually as natural light pours in through large, scenic windows overlooking the downtown courthouse lawn. Next will be fixing some bent keys.
The saxophonist and repairman has worked out of a high-profile shop in Michigan, his own space in Boston and now at TB Winds — a new music shop he owns with Jen Guzman, who spent the last year in the music entrepreneurship program at the University of North Texas. Both are graduates of the school's renowned music program and Guzman is pursuing her doctorate in clarinet performance there now.
The business merges everything Barrette has built with repair work, plus they have supplies musicians need, specifically items for woodwind and brass instruments.
"As far as the repair side off the ground, we were up and running, that was no issue, but to be a draw on a regional scale, we needed to have enough inventory here that people wanted to come and try," Barrette said. "Hopefully in a few years we'll have a magical wall of saxophones and clarinets, that's the dream."
The pair have hopped across the country to master their crafts, with Guzman spending more than a year in New York City working at the Juilliard School while Barrette was at Meridian Winds in Michigan. When the pair moved to Denton for Guzman to pursue her doctorate, the two toyed with the idea of opening their own shop. But after their wedding in July and honeymoon in Italy, they decided to open a storefront and set roots in Denton as soon as possible.
"It was probably about a two-week period that we got back, decided we needed to go into business and found this place," Barrette said.
"Our life has been insane since then," Guzman said with a laugh.
With the help of mentorship opportunities at the co-working space Stoke, they were able to put together a business plan and have help along the way beyond her expertise, Guzman said. Plus, they're able to look to the future — expanding accessories, adding instruments and eventually employees.
The shop opened Nov. 10, and already has a loyal following. Friday afternoon, a group of three UNT saxophone students meandered up the lighted staircase of 112 W. Oak St. to enter the airy loft space that houses TB Winds.
Guzman opened box after box of Legeres, a synthetic reeds, and laid them on mats on top of a display case for the students to test.
Landon Chang, a freshman at UNT, said he's been in the shop four times in the past week, one time hanging out for three hours.
"It's so great in my first year at UNT to have this resource as a woodwind player," he said. "This is the best place, and Tony is so knowledgeable. It's awesome."
The shop is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Repairs are done by appointment or walk-in, and can be done on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
FEATURED PHOTO: Eric Vazquez, a UNT freshman, tries out a new ligature while Tony Barrette and Jen Guzmân help customers at the front desk. Jake King/DRC
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889.