NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Phil Unger has been repairing flutes for over four decades.
“Sometimes I feel like I can do it blindfolded,” he said. “I dream about it.”READ MORE: Kelewele: A Brooklyn Food Stall Where Plantains Are The Main Event
Luckily, he loves his job.
“I look forward to it every day,” he said.
Phil runs the Flute Center of New York, a destination for amateur and professional flute players from across the world.
“We get a lot of emergency repairs, people that have to do a gig at Carnegie Hall, and the flutes are broken, so we’ll take care of them that day,” he said.
In addition to repair service, the Flute Center offers sheet music and flutes for sale, both in store and online. The collection includes brand-new contrabass flutes and pre-owned piccolos.
“They range anywhere from $500 to a really nice new car,” he said.
For Phil, much of what makes the flute special is what it reveals about its player.
“They’re just precise instruments that happen to produce this glorious sound that is as close to singing, I think, as an instrument can be. It’s really an extension of a player’s physical attributes, their diaphragm, the way they position their mouth,” he said. “These beautifully crafted instruments emulate their voice and their personality and them.”READ MORE: Canal Rubber Supply: Family Business Solves Problems With Rubber And Foam For Three Generations
At the shop, Phil aims to create a homey setting where connection among shoppers and staff outlives the transaction.
“When a customer comes, they’re not just a customer. We go out to lunch. I go to their country and visit them there,” he said.
For Phil, the tight-knit flute community speaks to the traits its members share.
“Flute players, by and large, are honest, good people,” he said. “It’s a family.”
Flute Center of New York
307 7th Ave. Suite 401
New York, NY 10001
What’s something few people know about but everybody should? Whatever it is, Elle McLogan is tracking it down on The Dig. Join her hunt for treasures hidden across our area. Follow Elle on Twitter and Instagram.