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Business models for B&M guitar stores?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by thesamhill, Nov 22, 2020 at 12:49 PM.

  1. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    It's got to be tough competing with Amazon and GC if you're primarily a retailer. What could you do with a local guitar business (or really, a business targeting the interested music-performance hobbyist) that the internet couldn't undercut?

    I could imagine a music store that was a combination coffee shop and retailer of super-basic stuff.

    Cafe environment with seating, coffee, maybe muffins or snacks or something. Sell some basic equipment cheap: decent budget / used guitars, mics, combo amps and PAs, computer interfaces and CCKs, budget MIDI keyboards, cables- strings- tuners- straps- capos- stands. Maybe sell oddball used stuff for the interested esoteric. Talk turkey.

    What would get you (and more importantly your wallet;)) into a B&M guitar/music performance oriented business?
     
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  2. Deeve

    Deeve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    the non-commodity pieces are what I look for - if you can order a thousand of 'em, I'm not looking for it :cool:
     
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  3. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    One of the best examples I know is Casino Guitars in Southern Pines, NC. They're a mostly high end shop but they've worked hard on developing an online presence. If I was in the market for a Fender Custom Shop or other expensive guitar I would probably pick them over the hoity-toity stores in the Atlanta metro area who act like they don't need/want my business.
     
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  4. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Holic

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    Would add..

    Low-key, but quality occasional live music,
    (some) books,
    music instruments, accessories, etc that are slightly out of the ordinarily or stuff that the the big box stores or Amazon do not sell.
     
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  5. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    A local one to me is a really nice space to be in, carpeted, not harsh lighting. The staff are reasonably knowledgeable. The have a good guitar tech and keep all the guitars clean and well set up. That said, I think the bulk of their business is online. They carry a number of higher end semi custom brands (like Nash and smaller makers), but they also have reasonable Fenders in stock.
     
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  6. MrCairo46

    MrCairo46 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Kudos to my pal Ryan Fowler of Ryan Fowler’s Guitar Experience.
    He started online retailing and about 6 years ago worked with a partner to go B&M while still supporting his global customers
    Good inventory, new and used , and quick personal response to inquiries.
    Ryan is also a person of excellent integrity. I watch a family from West Virginia cone into his shop. Dad had passed and they sought $2500 for his bass. Ryan took it apart and dated/verified it as a 57 all original. He offered to auction it for them for a percentage. I believe it sold for $15,500.00

    when B&M ships care for the guest like Ryan does , the numbers take care of them selves.
     
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  7. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I work next door to a B&M store that has been in the same Family since the early 60's.

    They listen to their customers and don't try to compete with the GC's of the world.

    Their offerings are modest and, they do cost a little more.
    One place they do well is Vintage and Rare guitars they post online and, Ukelele's.
    They sell the heck out of those things!
    They have strings, picks, effects, lesson books (and lessons), fx and such.
    One place they have very well with (until March if this year) was a Class for Uke instruction.
     
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  8. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    All retail is tough and guitar shops even tougher. Its unlike most retail, people want to hang out, mess up your inventory, and often leave without buying anything. The best stores around here are heavily into band rental, repairs , and lessons. You also need to embrace the internet, sell everything you can online. Having live music would be cool but I could see it interrupting sales opportunities.
     
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  9. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Although struggling presently, I do know of a B&M family owned music store that is awesome in so many ways. It is "The Nicholson Music Store" in Folsom, Ca. They bought the coffee shop next door with indoor/outdoor dining with open mic nights and more. I only get to visit there when I visit my Dad every couple of years, but they always have great stuff that is a bit out of the ordinary along with excellent used gear too. I played the best acoustic in my life there, but way out of my price range at the time. I found my first great slide there, just because that had a gazzilion to try. Super great people too. Where do you ever see a bunch of Rickenbachers in a store? Anyway, looking them up, they are having a rough time in this era, but promise to be open this spring. A great model for others to follow.
     
  10. Unionjack515

    Unionjack515 Tele-Afflicted

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    I think @bgmacaw hit the nail on the head with Casino.

    Brick and mortar isn’t the same concept as it used to be. I’d look at it as merely one little arm of the business as a showcase for your online showroom. No one is ever going to compete with the internet for “foot traffic.” As it’s proven here day after day, there’s always going to be someone who says “I can’t buy a guitar without playing it” and if that’s your credo, here’s my brick and mortar store. But for everyone else, take a look at my inventory online. Oh and by the way, here’s some of our nice knowledgeable dudes doing some demos, offering up their thoughts in a non-offensive way, and generally being likable on YouTube. I dig it.
     
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  11. That Cal Webway

    That Cal Webway Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    No 60 cycle hum in the lights
     
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  12. aleski

    aleski Tele-Meister

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    My advice to someone starting up would be to specialise in something, steer away from most things bulk and make sure as many products as possible are somehow unique, as well as invest in service quality and overall customer experience. A free or reasonably priced pick-up and delivery service should appeal to the growing number of non-car-owning consumers in urban areas.
     
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  13. USian Pie

    USian Pie Tele-Meister

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    The successful places around me focus on expensive, vintage, high-end, and uncommon instruments and equipment. They carry the stuff you really want to try before you buy.

    The clientele is looking for that magic instrument and is willing to pay for it. Ordering online and returning isn't their thing. They want the thrill of the hunt and they want to take their prize home that day.

    It's not really my thing because I'm a pathetic half-ass cheapskate who can't make a four-figure purchase without throwing up in the parking lot from anxiety. But more power to 'em and their customers.
     
  14. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    A time machine interlock on the front door so you walk into rows of unhip LPs Strats, Teles Tweeds and JMPs all around $100- $350.
     
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  15. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I doubt it would ever be a viable business model, but I always dreamed of having a barbecue or chuckwagon food restaurant with a stage for live music, attached to a wood shop where I could simultaneously build guitars and smoke/grill meat all day every day (while someone else manages the business, of course!).

    What better than to be able to grab a freshly built guitar, play a set with it, and then sit down to a plate of brisket, baked beans, and fresh baked bread?
     
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  16. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    Here it is!

    unicornpawnshop.jpg
     
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  17. swervinbob

    swervinbob Tele-Holic

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    Above average service and an online sales presence.
     
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  18. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    Add in a rack of those dumb looking surf guitars with all the switches and the weird bridge, and I'll make a pretty serious road trip to get there.
     
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  19. loopfinding

    loopfinding Tele-Holic

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    sell synthesizers too. a lot of those modular shops at least keep the lights on, always have a few people in there, and many of the modular synth crowd started life as guitarists. some synth companies started out as pedal companies, but overall there isn't enough effort on the part of retailers or pedal companies to reel wayward guitarists back in or expand their market to the synth crowd. a lot of missed opportunities and stubbornness.

    surely there is still more money in selling expensive guitar stuff to old guys in the short run, but what are you going to do in the long run once that market dries up?
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2020 at 9:44 AM
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  20. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    I've had a similar dream, BBQ and live music, but realized it wasn't practical, unless I won the lottery and needed a business loss tax write-off.
     
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