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Zounds hearing aid shop to open in Elm Grove

Owners familiar with hearing loss look to bring comfort

Jan. 8, 2013

At age 7, most boys are tossing a football with friends or watching cartoons at home.

Matthew Schultz was recovering from a double ear drum replacement.

Cysts had grown on Matthew's ear drums, leading to a surgery that left him with some permanent hearing loss.

"Ear drums can't be rebuilt, so I was fortunate to be able to have them both replaced," Matthew said.

Years later, when Matthew and his wife, Tiffany Schultz, decided to open their own business, they knew exactly which route they wanted to take.

"Both my father, Tiffany's mother and all of our grandparents wear hearing aids," Matthew said. "So we had an idea of what we wanted to do."

Hearing aid retail shop Zounds will open at 15280 W. Bluemound Road, next to the new Culver's, in mid-February.

The Elm Grove Plan Commission approved the new store Monday, allowing the new business owners to begin setting up their shop.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 4,000 new cases of sudden deafness occur each year in the United States. Only 10 to 15 percent of patients with sudden deafness know what caused the loss.

Matthew said he hopes he can help people improve their quality of life with Zounds products.

"There is a huge difference made in a person's life, elderly or not, when they cannot hear," he said.

Tiffany said the new 1,000-square-foot store will offer more than just hearing aids.

"We'll offer free hearing exams, testing and fitting." Tiffany said. "We will also offer same-day services where you can be fitted and walk out the door with hearing aids."

Matthew and Tiffany said after six months of extensive research on different brands, the Zounds brand had a special effect on Tiffany's mother, Anne Caldwell.

She suffers from hearing loss. As a self-taught musician, Caldwell had tried out a few hearing aid brands, one of which actually interfered with her ability to make out tones as she played instruments.

"She tried the Zounds brand one day and she loved it," Matthew said. "That actually helped us decide which brand to franchise."

Matthew said he found that the Zounds brand has more features than other brands at a lower cost, making hearing aids available to those who would otherwise not be able to afford them.

"Average top-end hearing aids can cost as much as $6,000 a pair," Matthew said. "There are very small reimbursements offered by Medicare and very few insurance programs that will reimburse customers. Our top-end pair is $3,000 a pair."

Headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., Zounds has stores in 15 states. The Elm Grove location will be the first in Wisconsin.

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