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About The Dalles chronicle. (The Dalles, OR) 1998-2020 | View Entire Issue (March 7, 2020)
A6 Weekend of March 7-8, 2020
S P E C I A L
S E C T I O N
in the company of excellence
Luthier donates skills to
fledgling Ukulele business
For The Dalles Chronicle
help streamline the process of making ukuleles
here in The Dalles, so he offered to help. Now,
slowly but surely, Wright’s behind-the-scenes work
for the Ho’okipa brand is starting to get noticed.
One of the first things Rossco Wright noticed
“We just took a few of our instruments to a
about The Dalles was the music store.
Shimabukuro show in Portland. He’s one
When he and his wife, Ati, were in the process of
most famous ukulele players in the world.
deciding where to find a community for the next
with us backstage and spent 40 minutes
stage of their lives, it was the little brick and mortar
our instruments to his. All I can say is
operation that was a key factor in deciding where to
nice things about it,” Wright said.
relocate. But more importantly, he knew he could
contributions to the shop
lend a hand to its owners, who were starting to create
jigs, machinery, shop
their own brand of handmade musical instruments.
designed wood joining
“The music store is a community gathering
a standard operating
place, almost like a coffee house, it’s a
place to share, a place to learn, and a place
to pursue an art form,” Wright said.
machinery here, every piece is very carefully
Wright discovered The Dalles’ Gorge Community
crafted. Each thickness, each wood grain
Music in 2017, and was immediately drawn to the
Hawaiian-style ukuleles being built in the back shop. is carefully selected. You can say each one
is crafted with love,” Wright said.
Branded under the name of Ho’okipa Ukuleles,
Some woodworking processes need more
the instruments feature authentic Hawaiian
two hands, like the custom sanding work
tonewoods, and the designs stem from the music
to join the ukulele neck to the body. Now,
store owners’ personal experience of the Hawaiian
custom clamp assists with the job.
lifestyle. The brand name means “Hospitality.”
doing this kind of work since I was
Wright knew that his decades of experience as an
and I’m going to help by putting
instrument builder and repair technician could
in the operations I know will contribute to the
efficiency of making these things,” Wright said.
Even with the efficiencies of a small woodshop,
Wright admits that making a few ukuleles
by hand may seem like a drop in the bucket
when compared to the big-box music store
retailers, the endless stream of merchandising
middlemen, foreign markets, and the internet.
How can operations like this survive?
“The city of The Dalles is really unique in allowing
these kinds of operations on the main street. A big
box retailer can’t really focus on detail and quality
like we can. This is an operation where I can help
make something in the back of the store, and the
owners can sell it in the front of the store. Of course,
a consumer can choose between plastic and real
wood, but I know how to introduce quality into
these instruments, and I know how they’ll sound,
and that can help the music store owners focus on
the marketing of their products. When the store
does well, we’ll all eventually do well,” Wright said.
Besides his efforts in the shop, Wright
participated in a marketing video Gorge
Community Music made which was used for
promotion during the recent Small Business
Revolution contest, a national promotion
Serving Wasco County for over 68 years
B U I L D I N G R E L AT I O N S H I P S F R O M U N D E R G R O U N D U P
Joann, Diane, Vivianna, Chris, Emily, Summer; not pictured, Susan
Where Others Have Branches,We Have Roots
3600 Crates Way, Ste. 100
The Dalles, OR 97058
P (541) 506-4000 F (541) 506-4001
OR C C B #1015 73 • WA L ic . #C R E S T C C 066OK
212 E. 4th St. The Dalles | 541-296-2495 | www.wascotitle.com
Ve hicl e ca re don e righ t a t m odera t e pric es .
Automotive & Diesel Services
senior citizens, and
service personnel with
L to R: Tyler Luna, Steve Kelsey, Jon Jr. Keyser,
Jason Smith, Holly Keyser, Jon Keyser
720 East 2nd Street, The Dalles | 541-296-3876
2937 East 2nd Street . The Dalles
across from Big Jim’s . 541-980-0518