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Meet the new Mercer Island Music owners
Andrew and Veronika Baklinski moved to Mercer Island from Ottawa, Canada's capital, just a couple months ago. It didn't take long for them to get into business with the Mercer Island Music store.
"We saw the yard art out in front, so we thought, 'Oh, that's really convenient,' just down the street," Veronika Baklinski said, holding her 8-year-old daughter, Helena. "We came in and found out the kids could take lessons right here on our own street. So we signed up three of them."
Soon after the Baklinskis began working with the business, they heard it would be closing through neighbors' word-of-mouth. As both Andrew and Veronika have strong musical backgrounds and children with an interest, Dan Sotelo, an employee of the shop, suggested them as new candidates. They accepted.
"A lot of people were calling, saying, 'Please don't close! We love you guys!'" Andrew Baklinski said. "And I said, 'We are staying open!'"
The family has gotten to know the previous owners well, especially since Veronika took piano lessons with Connie Wible, one of the previous owners, as she was growing up on the Island. Andrew grew up in Canada in a strongly musical home, and he has played several different instruments and sung. They bring a passion for musical culture to MI Music.
"We [previously] lived in a very small rural area, so there wasn't a great availability of instrumental music lessons," Andrew Baklinski said. "I had dreams of the kids playing violin or cello or whatnot, so we saw the music store here and came and introduced ourselves."
The shop is continuing with the same services it previously offered–instrument rentals and repairs and private lessons. Instructors for all string, woodwind, brass and percussion come to the store, as well as for piano, harp and guitar. There currently isn't one for voice, but they would welcome one if there was interest. Adults and children alike can stop by and meet the instructors, and they can even get a free lesson to see if there is a fit.
"Our current background coming from Canada is voice, so that's definitely a passion of ours," Veronika Baklinski said.
That background comes from their teaching in the Sacred Music Society, a program in Canada that facilitates choral music teaching in grade schools. It reaches out to about 10,000 students.
"Especially with our work back in Canada, we have some pretty good tools to bring," Andrew Baklinski said.
Along with the positive and friendly environment that the store already provides, the Baklinskis hope to expand its horizons, looking to collaborate more with the school music programs and connect with retirement communities.
"My grandmother had her 93rd birthday, and we went and played for her, and we could just see how for people at that sunset age, music is really a source of life," Veronika Baklinski said. "It's an enlightener."
Their desire to share music with the community made the job of taking over the store an easy one for the Baklinskis.
"Music is one of those beautiful gifts that you normally think of as something for grade school and high school students," Andrew Baklinski said, "but anyone at any age can come and learn a new instrument. It's a tremendous source of delight and inspiration."
The shop is located at 3631 82nd Ave. S.E. The website is www.mercerislandmusic.com. Customers can email questions to play.MIM@gmail.com.