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  1. #1

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    I ran into a friend today and asked him about the little guitar shop he frequents, and who by the way did a couple of great repairs for me several years ago. He said it had been around 8 or 9 months since he went by but they were doing very well.

    I asked him how this could be when I would see the same guitars hanging from the walls, unsold, even after a couple of years.

    He said they were doing very well and actually turning away business. They make their money through guitar repair and maintenance, and through guitar lessons rather than through sales, although they do generate some revenue on consummables such as strings and also on certain accessories such as tuners, books (especially for their lessons), some pedals, etc...

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  3. #2

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    That's pretty much the same story with the little shops I know of lessons, band instrument rentals, accessories, books. Talk to them and same story a bunch of little local shops all doing well, then GC opens up and kills instrument sales so have to change focus or die.

    I try to deal as much as possible with local shops or small shops with online sales. Some things I to go to GC for, and to see if anything of interest used has shown up.
    Last edited by docbop; 10-16-2014 at 08:32 PM.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  4. #3

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    Yes sir, the money brought in from lessons, student traffic sales (strings etc), and Christmas packages.

  5. #4

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    yup...There's a small shop(and I mean small) near me. It has been there a long time. They seem to doing o.k. This shop also takes instruments on consignment. I was there once and he had a Heritage Golden Eagle on consignment. It was immaculate. I called the next day and it was sold. It sold for $1800.

    Very beautiful guitar.

  6. #5

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    I will rejoice the day guitar center goes out of business. I was in there last week and I had the toughest time ever playing one of their high end guitars which they place all the way up to the ceiling almost. Unless you walk in there with your debit/credit card in your mouth then they will quickly climb up to the ceiling. Damn fools. Not a friendly atmosphere at all. Wish mom and pop was around.
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  7. #6

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    I wonder what "doing well" or "doing ok" means in hard numbers...

  8. #7

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    Two GC stores within a 25 mi radius wiped out all the local shops I'd used since I was young. It's sad, some I'd used for over 35 years. I always get treated very well at GC, but it's just not the same.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    I always get treated very well at GC, but it's just not the same.
    Lucky you. I've been to several around the country from San Francisco to New York City and I've always been met with the same "show me the money" vibe when it comes to trying their high end stuff. Mom and Pop shops I've been to is so much more welcoming. Buy the way if you don't have a mom and pop in your neck of the woods the closest thing to one is Sweet Water. It's an online version of the brick and mortar mom and pop. Great friendly vibe over there. They go out of their way to satisfy you. I bought a few high end gear from them. And had no problems returning the ones I didn't like. Musician Friends is good too but not as good as Sweet Water when it comes to customer service.
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers View Post
    I wonder what "doing well" or "doing ok" means in hard numbers...
    Good question, ff.

    In this case, my buddy, who's friends of a family member of the family that runs this shop, says she told him they are very comfortable and have business commensurate with their size and stated goals. They are now hoping to be able to maintain the present level of revenue long term, and really don't want to grow any larger.

    Good for them, although I am always taken aback when I hear an American business entity say they are satisfied with their revenue and don't want to make any significant or drastic changes just to increase it.

    It is refreshing.

  11. #10

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    The local shop I go to opened in 1954. The founder / owner played sax professionally and started this. I was born here in '58 and didn't know him back then, of course, but I've been going in and out of that shop since the '70s and it always looks the same.


    They do a lot with schools---band instruments---and have a large sheet music section. They also rent pianos and have a large showroom for them which I rarely enter as I don't play piano.

    I order books from them and they tend to get anything from Aebersold or Hal Leonard in a couple days.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  12. #11

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    Guitar Center also owns Musician's Friend, Music & Arts, LMI, Giardinelli, Musician.com, Private Reserve Guitars, Woodwind and Brasswind, Music 123, Lyons Music and Harmony Central.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk View Post
    Guitar Center also owns Musician's Friend, Music & Arts, LMI, Giardinelli, Musician.com, Private Reserve Guitars, Woodwind and Brasswind, Music 123, Lyons Music and Harmony Central.
    Wow didn't know that. I guess when you're so big you're bound to get a few things right and Musician Friend is one of them. I dislike companies that aim to be a monopoly. Long live mom and pop!
    Last edited by smokinguit; 10-17-2014 at 02:01 PM.
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by smokinguit View Post
    Wow didn't know that. I guess when you're so big you're bound to get a few things right and Musician Friend is one of them. I dislike companies that aim to be a monopoly. Long live mom and pop!
    You know, the notion of "monopoly" is changing. Many see Amazon and Apple and Google and PayPal as beneficial in part BECAUSE they are monopolies. They are better at what they do than anyone else, become incredibly efficient at it, and society benefits.

    (I'm not saying I buy this argument but it is a current argument. Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, recently penned a piece for the Wall St Journal with the catchy title "Competition is for Losers" and more recently, "Why Monopolies Are A Good Thing.")

    Having said that, this is a thread about mom and pop music shops, and not a thread about what is or isn't a monopoly, or whether monopolies are bad, or any such thing.

    This is an homage to local music shops, the kind many of us relied on as kids (before Internet), especially those of us who weren't living in big towns. If someone wants to start a thread about Guitar Center (-o, wait...), have at it. But this ain't that thread.
    Last edited by MarkRhodes; 10-17-2014 at 04:10 PM. Reason: spelling
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by monk View Post
    Guitar Center also owns Musician's Friend, Music & Arts, LMI, Giardinelli, Musician.com, Private Reserve Guitars, Woodwind and Brasswind, Music 123, Lyons Music and Harmony Central.
    Dang, that's disappointing... There's no competition whatsoever. I ordered from three or four those companies when I taught school thinking that at least it was another company.

  16. #15

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    Decided to get Vincent Bredice's "Complete Book of Guitar Improvisation" so I called my local shop to see if they had it and they do, so I'll pick it up in the morning.

    Started thinking about this thread while out today and realized that I had my first guitar lessons in a music store. Not here, but in Donelson, TN (-a suburb of Nashville, where I spent several years as a kid).

    Who else took guitar lessons in a music store?

    The one where I started had a Leon White book in its rack and I bought it: "Styles for the Studio." (That book had neither sheet music nor tab---all diagrams. Leon is still around, is a member here, and has contributed to the Ted Greene site.) That was my intro to the major scale, melodic patterns, chords beyond C, D, and G.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  17. #16

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    I'll be candid and say mom and pop were happy to screw me with full list price when I was a naive teen....

  18. #17

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    Truly the saying, "Let the Buyer Beware" is true!

    A Mom and Pop Gold-Purchasing Shop got me when I was more naïve. Sad thing about it is that it was only a few years ago .

    But I am a little more cynical and much more wiser.

    A buddy of mine who was a CEO told me that if you have money, you will run into many people who are more than willing to separate you from it. He had plenty of stories to back it up, too.

    The funny thing about it is he feels he needed to be humbled any way and too not place such a high price on making that big money in order to finally get respect. He says he is much happier being "poor." Quite a character...

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    I'll be candid and say mom and pop were happy to screw me with full list price when I was a naive teen....
    Out of curiosity, I'd like to know what you got and what you paid and whether that sounds like a pretty good deal now! ;o)

    Not the same thing, I know. But before 'discount shopping' the list price for many things was pretty much it. Having (back then) a store you could walk into with several guitars to try out was worth something in and of itself.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    I'll be candid and say mom and pop were happy to screw me with full list price when I was a naive teen....
    In the 60 and 70s, prior to the advent of catalog sellers later followed by online sellers, retail price was the norm. But I never shopped in any mom & pop music store where cash didn't get me 10%, 15%, even 20% off the list price. Most of the musicians I worked with knew what the mark-up was on merchandise and few complained. Players were more likely to complain about getting the short-end of a trade-in than paying list.

    As catalog sellers, then big-box sellers and finally online sellers moved into the marketplace deeper discounts became the norm. But those discounts come with another price. It's harder to find a walk-in store with a large selection of a variety of guitars where one can sit down and play them in order to make an informed choice. Getting the instrument set up to one's personal liking as part of the sale is no longer an option nor is continued service after the sale or having someone local to handle warranty issues that might arise.

    There was a time when no one seriously considered buying a guitar sight unseen. Now for most, it's the norm. Amazon.com is the largest online retailer in the world and they move a boatload of guitars everyday. In the box, not set-up, not tested. You pays yer money and takes yer chances. After the sale is final, if there's a warranty issue, the buyer is left with having to deal with the manufacturer who, as we all know, may be located in another country.

    When full retail price was the norm we were getting more than just a guitar or amp for our money.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk View Post
    When full retail price was the norm we were getting more than just a guitar or amp for our money.
    I agree. There were exceptions---there always are---but doing business with someone who wanted to stay in business long term, the seller wanted you satisfied when you walked out the door because he wanted you to come back in later, which you weren't as likely to do if you felt you had been mistreated.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk View Post
    .....Amazon.com is the largest online retailer in the world and they move a boatload of guitars everyday...
    I keep hearing this about Amazon. It floors me that they have even become a leader in the selling of guitars, just as they have with so many other items.

    I can see now why they announced plans to hire thousands for the holiday season, and thousands more after that.

    Business is good for Amazon.

    I wonder if they are hurting Ebays business?

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbyork View Post
    They didn't do anything wrong. They posted a price, you agreed to pay it, and both parties got what they wanted -- that's how it works. My own past has its share of transactions that I would have handled differently, if I knew then what I know now, but education doesn't come without cost.
    Yes, I can thank mom and pop for the expensive education. Being a teenage rube from the country in the early 70's with no musician friends yet, I thought the MSRP price tags on guitars and amps were the price and non-negotiable. After being "educated" by mom and pop a few times, I finally met some musicians who informed me that actual retail price was 40% off of MSRP. Ouch, it only left me feeling like a sucker....

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbyork View Post
    A seller can tag an instrument with any price they want. The "actual retail price" is whatever the buyer agrees to pay.
    That's definitely a post-eBay influenced comment. If the seller asks $500 and the buyer is "agrees" to pay $250, the seller also has to "agree" to accept that amount.

    Go down to your local business district or shopping mall and go into a clothing store, shoe store, grocery store or hardware store, then pick a suit, pair of shoes, cart full of food or power-tool and take it to the check-out and tell them what you agree to pay. Let us know what happens. All things are not necessarily negotiable.

  25. #24

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    The owner of my local hole-in-the-wall music store told me he makes most of his money doing pro sound for local concerts supplemented by commission sales of used equipment and lessons. Years ago, I had a friend who owned a small music store. He made most of his money renting band instruments to schools.
    "Thanks, but you should have heard what I was trying to play!" - T. Monk
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