Music store, garden center begin recovery process after flooding

April 4, 2019

Two Sioux Falls businesses that were severely damaged in the mid-March flooding are recovering on different paths.

Cliff Avenue Greenhouse & Garden Center is forging ahead by using parts of its property that weren’t damaged, while Schmitt Music has temporarily leased another site.

March 14 “was when everything went crazy for us,” said Jason Ratliff, store manager for Schmitt Music. “We had never seen water come across 41st and Cliff. … On the west side of Cliff when that breached, we decided we were in trouble. We tried to get everything off the ground.”

When the staff was able to return late in the afternoon on March 16, they discovered that water from the Big Sioux River and the heavy rain had risen about a foot on the main floor.

“We didn’t lose anything major, a few accessories, fixtures, and random stuff, our vacuum, power adapters for computers. We started assessing damage and what to do next.”

Cleanup began on the weekend with the removal of damaged merchandise, mostly sheet music, and crews sucked 100 gallons of water out of the carpet. The music store reopened on Monday with 27 fans and three industrial-size dehumidifiers running.

“As the week grew, it was unbearable,” Ratliff said. “With the mildew smell, you couldn’t be in there for more than 20 or 30 minutes at a time. By Friday, we decided it was time to find something different until building maintenance could be done. It’s pretty much going to have to be gutted.”

Ratliff knew that Riff City Guitar at 1209 W. 41st St. had recently closed, so Schmitt Music reached out to the building’s property manager.

“No one likes to do short-term leases on commercial property, but they agreed to give us a two-month temporary lease.”

For the move, Schmitt Music sent three staff members from its headquarters in Brooklyn Center, Minn., and with their colleagues and the help of family, the store’s team of four full-time and three part-time employees had everything ready to go in the new store by March 25.

“It’s amazing to think we ripped out three studios, rebuilt them, remerchandised, and within 26 hours we were ready to go again.”

While the flooding damaged three lesson pods on the first floor, the staff was able to move the three pods on the second floor into the new space. Riff City had three studios, so Schmitt Music is back to full strength, which is important because “music education, in general, is where we have our hearts and our passion,” Ratliff said.

With the help of additional instructors rom the community, the music store provides lessons to 187 students every week.

Back at the store on East 41st, the landlord has gutted the space, and the reclamation process of treating the interior has started, Ratliff said. If all goes well, Schmitt could be back in the space by the end of May.

Farther north along the river, Cliff Avenue Greenhouse, which actually is on 26th Street between the Big Sioux and Interstate 229, is getting ready for its busiest time of the year.

Some of the growing greenhouses and plants that had been started were swept away in the flooding, co-owner Heath Zeigler said. Another greenhouse wall was damaged by floating ice or one of many pallets that were lifted by the water. A couple of landscape trucks were damaged beyond repair, and the nursery lost water heaters used to heat the tables where seeds are started, Zeigler said.

Raised electrical panels prevented the greenhouses from losing power. “If the electricity would have gone out, we would have lost everything,” he said.

The staff moved the surviving plants up to the retail greenhouse, returned some after the water receded but then had to move them back again when a second wave of flooding was expected.

“The water never did get as bad as they predicted,” Zeigler said. “We prepared for the worst and hoped for the best.”

The staff is waiting for the flooded area to dry up before assessing the full damage and finishing the cleanup.

On top of that, a construction project that will change 26th Street into an overpass because of nearby railroad tracks will disrupt traffic in front of the garden center for the next two years.

Through it all, the community support for Cliff Avenue Greenhouse has been “fantastic,” Zeigler said.

“Several people showed up with gloves to work and said, ‘Don’t pay us.” Others baked us treats, someone brought us lunch, and there were lots of phone calls.”

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Music store, garden center begin recovery process after flooding

Two Sioux Falls businesses that were severely damaged in the mid-March flooding are recovering on different paths.

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