Anyone own a music store?

Rickety

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 6, 2021
80
Devils Lake, ND
The reason I ask is because I live in an area that should have some kind of mom and pop music store, we have about 7,500 people and we're a central hub for a few smaller towns around us when people don't want to drive all the way out to a bigger city area.

I'm sick of not having what I need near me, especially in an area that sees bad weather that can inhibit deliveries from online orders for days. I've been thinking about opening a business in this town for a while, I've thought about a restaurant, a bowling alley, a movie theater, you name it. We do have a small music scene here, a couple of local bars will host local musicians to come and play, and we have a casino in the neighboring Native American reservation that hosts live bands as well (quite frequently I might add) so the demand is somewhat there, and may increase if there's a readily available music store in town.

My question to you is this... how difficult was it to open a music store for you? Is there some avenue you need to go down to procure contracts with brands like Gibson, Ibanez, and Fender or is it all out of pocket purchases? Any and all advice is welcome. (Please save the 'My advice... just don't do it' posts, because it's about more than just the money in this case.)
 

lammie200

Senior Stratmaster
Apr 25, 2016
1,936
San Francisco
You might want to consider all used sales. I think that contracts with the larger companies like Gibson, etc. require a great deal of cash purchasing to let them to allow you to sell their brands. Besides that there is substantial used stock for you to acquire as inventory. Kinda an always been/always will be scenario.
 

Rickety

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 6, 2021
80
Devils Lake, ND
Cool thread. Is there a coffee stand/espresso place in your town? Starbucks like place? If not, combining a music store with a coffee shop might be a good idea. The margins on coffee are quite good and a little acoustic show
Yes, actually, we have a locally owned coffee shop in town and I work with the owners father at the local community college. The coffee shop is actually somewhat of a local hotspot that everyone goes to and they do have a perfect spot at the storefront window for someone to do live acoustic shows.
 

Rickety

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 6, 2021
80
Devils Lake, ND
You might want to consider all used sales. I think that contracts with the larger companies like Gibson, etc. require a great deal of cash purchasing to let them to allow you to sell their brands. Besides that there is substantial used stock for you to acquire as inventory. Kinda an always been/always will be scenario.
That's an awesome suggestion! I didn't think about that actually, thank you. Acquiring some used stock would be a lot more doable.
 

crankmeister

Most Honored Senior Member
Jul 9, 2020
5,994
Republic of Gilead
Yes, actually, we have a locally owned coffee shop in town and I work with the owners father at the local community college. The coffee shop is actually somewhat of a local hotspot that everyone goes to and they do have a perfect spot at the storefront window for someone to do live acoustic shows.
A community college?

That's a good market.

You're talking about musical instruments (and media, like sheet music), yeah? Because like mentioned above, big manufacturers like Fender and Gibson want something like $50k up front to be an authorized dealer.
 

Rickety

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 6, 2021
80
Devils Lake, ND
A community college?

That's a good market.

You're talking about musical instruments (and media, like sheet music), yeah? Because like mentioned above, big manufacturers like Fender and Gibson want something like $50k up front to be an authorized dealer.
Yes, instruments, equipment, sheet music, not just guitar but keyboards and brass down the line as well. The closest reputable music store to here is about an hour and a half away and they only sell high school band instruments and sheet music, no keyboards, no guitars, just brass, drums, and string pianos.
 

dbb541

Senior Stratmaster
Oct 14, 2010
1,426
Eugene
You might want to consider all used sales. I think that contracts with the larger companies like Gibson, etc. require a great deal of cash purchasing to let them to allow you to sell their brands. Besides that there is substantial used stock for you to acquire as inventory. Kinda an always been/always will be scenario.
This is a great idea. Could also do consignments on used stuff at 10% or something.
 

Higgins1980

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 11, 2013
2,207
North Carolina
As with any small business it will take lots of money. A willingness to take on huge amounts of personal and financial risk as well as an understand that like most small business you will probably go out of business and lose a bunch of money. There’s a lot more to owning a music shop than just selling guitars and drums. There’s accounting, inventory, budgeting, payroll, insurance, marketing, and staffing to name a few. It’s why most business have separate departments for each of these functions. Not to say it can’t be done but it would be a lot of work. If your not willing to put in 60-80+ hours a week it’ll probably never get off the ground.
 

nickmsmith

Dr. Stratster
Jul 28, 2011
14,247
USA
Yep. It’s harder than ever. To sell new guitars from the big brands, you have to have some good guarantee of quantity of sales.

unless I were easily a millionaire, or have investors, I wouldn’t consider it, to be honest. My local large non GC shop is owned by a multimillionaire who had no problem throwing down the cash to start up. Plus he runs a robust online guitars business to supplement it.

small retailers have to resort to second tier brands quite often. My local small store has Michael Kelly, Gretsch, and a few small brands. No Fender/Gibson except occasional used items of theirs.

I throw them tech and repair business because the owner is great at it . But I can tell they aren’t doing well.

if you go the used route, you’ll be competing with Craigslist, Facebook marketplace,etc. and it’s very tough to compete with their prices and pay the rent on the building at the same time. Plus the trappings of dealing with the usual pawn shop antics.

I hate playing devils advocate. But I think it’s a good choice to consider all outcomes.
 
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Rickety

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 6, 2021
80
Devils Lake, ND
As with any small business it will take lots of money. A willingness to take on huge amounts of personal and financial risk as well as an understand that like most small business you will probably go out of business and lose a bunch of money. There’s a lot more to owning a music shop than just selling guitars and drums. There’s accounting, inventory, budgeting, payroll, insurance, marketing, and staffing to name a few. It’s why most business have separate departments for each of these functions. Not to say it can’t be done but it would be a lot of work. If your not willing to put in 60-80+ hours a week it’ll probably never get off the ground.
I do understand that, that's why there are other avenues that I'm looking to go down, like the local schools who rely on that same music store an hour and a half away to rent their equipment, if I can get stock then I'm sure they would like a renter who is more readily available to help in the event of an issue. Also renting rooms to local music teachers so that they don't have to teach in their own homes, they can have a space where they can work that's away from the distractions of home. Little things like that, things that I can do to really integrate myself into the community.
 

Rickety

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 6, 2021
80
Devils Lake, ND
Do you know how to do repairs?

Do you have capital to buy inventory, pay rent, handle marketing?

Would the shop include a small studio for recording and/or giving lessons? Could you rent the studio out to other instructors?
Capital? Not yet, that's a work in progress, but I have a few income streams that I'm working on that I'm hopeful about.

As for repairs, I'm learning about that now, trying to figure it all out before committing.
 

davi3blu3

Strat-Talk Member
Jul 26, 2021
48
Nashville, TN
It’s a tough business for sure, even here in Nashville the mom n pop music stores are dwindling. One of the best ones stayed afloat for a long time by having a great music school, with rooms for guitar, bass, keys, vocal lessons etc.

As mentioned getting connected with local schools, marching bands etc would be another segment that might help. Lessons, repairs, rental of PA equipment maybe? Check your local churches too, a lot of them may be doing live music and have some needs there. Would definitely try to diversify into several different revenue streams.

Good luck!
 

StratUp

Most Honored Senior Member
Sep 5, 2020
8,044
Altered States
It's seems that both Fender and Gibson have a fairly high hurdle for purchase quantity to become an authorized dealer.

As a business, I don't see a lot of cost past inventory. There is some sort of store space rent, insurance (mostly property, short money), and you have to have a way to pay your bills until the store (hopefully) covers it.

But, that's probably a couple hundred thou to get rolling and cover the first year. So you either need a pile of cash, a mortgage on your home, or a well-to-do investor(s).

Honestly... I don't think a community of 7500 is anywhere near enough people to support a business like this.
 

Higgins1980

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 11, 2013
2,207
North Carolina
Perhaps a franchise would be a better option. Like a music go round or something similar. With a franchise you have to buy in and give the parent company a cut but work with you to help you be profitable. Because if your not profitable they don’t make money off you.
 


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