About Us - Our History

ABOUT US

From humble beginnings, Hoffman Music has become the oldest and longest operating music instrument retail store in the Spokane area.  Not only do we have a long-standing and deep-rooted history in Spokane since 1913, outlined in OUR HISTORY below, we have continued to change with the times, remaining up-to-date every step of the way. With your continued and highly valued support, we look forward to staying in tune with all your musical needs for centuries to come!

Since our beginning, we’ve maintained a commitment to the musicians of the Spokane community. We know what a difference it makes to play your instrument before buying, look through a music book you've been wanting for a while, or to special order something through our store and receive in-person, with first-hand service from knowledgeable and qualified musicians. 

We offer the best & largest selection of woodwind, brass, orchestral stringed, guitar, folk, bass, keyboard, drum & percussion instruments and pro audio in the Spokane area!  Not only do we carry the latest & greatest, our stock also includes a large variety of unique used instrument items for sale and if you have one, we can sell it for you on consignment.  To make it easier to get what you want today, we also offer in-house financing, layaway and 6 for 6 no interest (O.A.C.).

We take pride in providing the best care for your instrument as possible.  Our instrument repairs department works on hundreds of instruments of all kinds, shapes, sizes each year.  Our professional repair service technicians will deliver deliberate and precise results for you which we are proud to stand behind and honor to your complete satisfaction. 

We offer in-store music lessons and have six lesson rooms for any player just learning how to play or for the advancing desiring to further their abilities.

Our Hoffman Pro Systems store is dedicated to all things pro audio and sound system related products.  They sell speakers, microphones, wireless systems, mixers, monitors, signal processors, cables & adapters and much more.  They commercially install "turn-key" sound system solutions for Churches, Businesses, Schools, Taverns and the like (Licensed, Bonded & Insured). They also provide Backline Rentals… if you are having an event, you can rent a sound system, wireless mic system, or everything you’d need to accommodate an entire band!  Hoffman Pro Systems is located at 440 W Sharp Spokane WA 99201 – Phone 509.462-8000 – Email: sales@hoffmanprosystems.com.

On a side-note - over the decades, we’ve had famous musicians stop into the store while in Spokane, including Eddie Van Halen, Pat Benatar, The Monkees, Merle Haggard, Myles Kennedy, Iron Maiden, and a handful more!

Thanks for being a part of our journey of over 100 years of music service in the Spokane community!

OUR HISTORY

A lot has changed in the world while we have been around. Did you know that Hoffman Music is older than the use of traffic lights?!

Our history technically begins with Mr. Van Ausdle and Bill Hoffman in 1909.  Hoffman Music was originally named and established in 1913 under the name of Van Ausdle-Hoffman Music Company Inc..  They opened the doors on Sprague Avenue, opposite the Historic Davenport Hotel.  Not before too long however, Mr. Van Ausdle separated from the company and Bill Hoffman brought in his brother Chris to be partners and changed the name to Hoffman Brothers Music circa 1930's.

In the beginning, Hoffman did much more than music. Originally, we sold pianos, organs, band and orchestra instruments, phonographs, record, and radios, but we also sold chairs, sofas, beds, lamps, desks, dining and breakfast sets, flooring, and rugs! 

Below are two advertisements for Hoffman, from 1925 and 1928, respectively.

We have had quite a few addresses in our history, many being in downtown Spokane. Below are a few pictures of our locations and a small glimpse into the history of downtown Spokane.

After our brief Sprague location, Hoffman moved to Riverside Avenue, where it stayed until the 1970's!  Below you see the before and after of the Spokesman Review building (built in 1894) at the corner of Monroe and Riverside, with Hoffman right next door in the later picture (circa 1960's). Hoffman used to be in what is now the lobby of the Spokesman Review.

Below is the corner of Riverside and Monroe c. 1920's 

The Hoffman brothers, Bill and Chris remained partners until the middle of the century.

Hoffman Brothers, c. 1940s.

During this time, we began a long-standing tradition of above-and-beyond excellence to the Spokane community. Hoffman Bros. Music Company delivered instruments to students, including a truckload of pianos to
WSU's Music Department c. 1940.

After Chris retired, Bill Hoffman partnered with Bill Grafmiller and Earl Smith.  With the business expertise of the Hoffman brothers' legacy and the musical knowledge of Grafmiller & Smith, Hoffman Music started a new era. 

Grafmiller, who led an after-hours orchestra class while co-running the store, showed future partner Earl Smith everything he knew about instrument repair and business ownership.  

Below, Grafmiller and Smith have a laugh while repairing a trumpet 1953. 

Earl Smith has been with Hoffman since right out of high school in 1950, although he began taking trumpet lessons there at age 12. 

Earl Smith, c.1953

Earl, on Hoffman's 100th anniversary in 2013

Around 1969 Hoffman's CPA Ernie McLeish joined as a partner with Bill & Earl. 

Ernie's career at Hoffman's spanned nearly 45 years and during that time he experienced the evolution of computing and networking systems starting in the late 70's, which at times he referred to it as the "bleeding edge" of technology.  

Ernie McLeish (2013)

After Bill Grafmiller's passing, it was just Earl & Ernie as partners. After Ernie's passing, Earl is currently partners with his own son, Allan, and Ernie's son, Kevin.  Both sons have a lifetime of experience growing up at Hoffman's plus 30 years of working there. Their experience continues to grow and they proudly look forward to continuing the long honored heritage of Hoffman Music.

Over the decades, many of the partner's family members, extended family and friends have all greatly contributed to what Hoffman's is today. Hoffman's is standing on many a great shoulders and acknowledges their many years of loyal service as jobs VERY well done!

Obviously, for Hoffman's to have survived over a hundred years, there has been hundreds of fantastic employees and managers over the last century that have solidified and ensured the company's success. Hoffman's IS its dedicated and caring employees. They are the heart and soul of Hoffman's and without them, we wouldn't be here. Many thanks to our staff and all their talents that we appreciate and get to experience daily, so will you!

While the main music store on Riverside was doing well, we opened multiple stores all around Spokane. Below are stores that all operated at the same time:

Hoffman Music (Main Store) on Lincoln c.1970's

Hoffman Music - Spokane Valley Store (on Pines) c.1970's

Hoffman Music Keyboards Store (on Lincoln) c.1970's

Hoffman Music Electronics (on Sprague) 1977

We even shared our space during the early 1980's with the State Theater, we were located in the basement of that building.
Hoffman Music Camera Store (on Sprague) 1980:

Hoffman's Main Store moved to the corner of 1st & Lincoln c.1980's:

Non-music related, however, now apart of Hoffman's history is it's little known business that operated as Lilac City Courts.  When racquetball and handball was really popular in the late 60's & 70's, Ernie McLeish and Earl Smith, along with 11 other investors built, from the ground up, what is now Hoffman Pro Systems Pro Audio and Sound System store.

Lilac City Courts 1972 (440 W Sharp Spokane WA 99201):

(Old Lilac City Courts) now Hoffman Pro Systems today, 2018

Although Hoffman had multiple stores across Spokane, and fun as it may have been, it was beginning to be obvious to the partners what Hoffman Music actually did best, and that was: music supplies, instruments, and pro-audio equipment.

The Hoffman Music partners made a big decision back in the mid-1980's to consolidate and to move to 1430 N Monroe which is where we are at today. 

After remodeling inside & out, in the late 1990's, this is our store today in 2018.

Here's some old pic's of the inside of some of the stores and people

Hoffman Music Promo Pic with KREM FM 92.9 c. 1970's

 

Hoffman Music's Softball Team c. 1970's

 

 

 

Here's some current inside Hoffman's pic's from 2015-2018

Today, we have a wealth of experience, professional service, repair, installation, consignment, and a large selection of product for nearly all musical instruments and pro audio sound systems. We recently added 6 lesson studios to our main store to help expand music education and make it convenient for any musician at any level to begin, or to continue to learn and grow. Hoffman’s history happily provides a relatable foundation to assist and expand anyone’s music endeavors.

 Thanks for reading about us and we hope to see and serve you soon! 

PS - For a great article by the Spokane Journal outlining Hoffman Music's 100 year anniversary in 2013, click here.