Anyone own a music store?

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by Rickety, Oct 11, 2021.

  1. Rickety

    Rickety Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    30
    Messages:
    80
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2021
    Location:
    Devils Lake, ND
    Yeah, and as I've explored more about this idea I've thought that it would be a good idea to do that as well, we have a couple of schools who rent their equipment from a site that's about an hour and a half away.

    Also, e-commerce is something that I'm going to throw into the list of things to learn about.
     
  2. 2010cb

    2010cb Strat-Talker Silver Member

    Messages:
    263
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2020
    Location:
    NY
    I ran the day-to-day of a 300+ employee company. But we sold services (typically billed by the hour), not goods. About 100 employees generated revenue and the remaining were support.

    While I don’t have a business background (I was just one of the revenue generators that got tasked with running the day-to-day), I got crash course on-the-job training.

    You got a lot of great advice already. I agree that a community of 7,500 would not sustain a music store selling instruments and I don’t think you can get anywhere near fenders of gibsons. None of the local independent music stores around me carry them, and I live in a much larger community.

    Most of my local stores rent instruments to the students that attend local schools, take in repairs for technicians, and provide space for lessons (getting an hourly fee from lessons).

    The 4 school districts within 15 minutes of one such store near me have, in total, about 1,000 students per grade. On average, 25% of the students from grades 4-10 are in the band/orchestra. Let’s assume half rent (most rent the first few years, less as time goes on as they buy instruments). That’s about 900 instruments rented per year. Let’s assume 10 month rentals at $25/month. That’s a couple hundred thousand per year. And the instrument pays for itself in, say 2-5 years depending on the instrument. Then you can also provide lessons, etc and get a cut of that. But you need that steady income coming in to keep the lights on and pay your salary.

    But, if you are starting from scratch you’ve got to displace the other renters - students are already getting them elsewhere - unless you are taking over a store.
     
  3. pn8830

    pn8830 Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    404
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2021
    Location:
    NJ
    A number of years ago I had a chat with an owner of a music store in a neighbor town. He had a cute little store and I haven't been there too often but one day I noticed he moved across the street so I stopped by to buy some strings. It turned out he downsized but the he said one thing - I should just get out of the retail business and do lessons. It looked like most of his profit was from lessons and not from selling gear. One other thing to think about.
     
  4. Rickety

    Rickety Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    30
    Messages:
    80
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2021
    Location:
    Devils Lake, ND
    Well I am definitely not cut out to be a teacher, not by a long shot. I have a degree in an electronics tech field and I tried teaching electronics and I just don't have that passion for teaching that's required to give quality instruction.
     
    3bolt79 likes this.
  5. pn8830

    pn8830 Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    404
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2021
    Location:
    NJ
    It doesn't mean that YOU have to do it :). If you can find a kid who's willing to teach for a few bucks could be a win-win for both. Just a thought. I wish you luck, owning a business is not easy, I respect that.
     
    3bolt79 likes this.
  6. Uncle Jimmy

    Uncle Jimmy Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    72
    Messages:
    1,691
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2011
    Location:
    Connecticut
    There was a small chain here in New England called Daddy's Junky Music. They were a combination of new, used, consignment. Had just about everythin, inventory always changing. It was fun to go in once a week to see what was new. Think they got over-extended, but they were great while they lasted. Google them to read about how they got started.
     
    3bolt79 likes this.
  7. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    66
    Messages:
    3,771
    Joined:
    May 20, 2020
    Location:
    Athens Ga
    This is a big decision. I’ve owned a small guitar shop since 1999.

    Here are several pointers if you get into it. First trying to carry lines of Gibson, Fender, Martin, Taylor guitars is a huge mistake for a couple of reasons. First these companies require a minimum purchase which is a lot and immediately all your capital is tied up in expensive inventory. Secondly they give much better deals to the big guys who buy thousands of units each year so it puts you in a catch 22 where people can buy the same thing online for nearly your dealer cost meaning that there is no profit margin. These items are too expensive to be a loss leader item.

    Next, do you have any idea how much a pick display with a large variety of picks available sells for? You can easily tie $5k or more up in a bunch of picks, slides, or strings that pay back a dollar or two at a time. This ties up that money for months and months before you ever see the return.

    opening a store and thinking you can be a mini GC is a big mistake.

    Now for the good side: for any mom and pop music store Service is the secret ingredient. I am a repair person and my shop revolved around doing repairs and providing service. Used guitars are where it’s at. Buying used guitars fixing them and reselling them is the place where you can eek out a living and have a cool shop. I buy my strings in bulk and only offer these strings. I buy a big bulk bag of picks and put them in a fish bowl on the counter and give them away free. I sell used parts and used guitars. I sell bulk strings and picks. I don’t sell straps, capos, music stands etc. but that doesn’t mean you can’t. I have an account with Music Link who is a big distributor of imported guitars and all kinds of music accessories sold at wholesale. From them you can buy imported new guitars such as “Loar”, amps, pedals etc. they don’t require huge minimums and their stuff is priced cheap. Through these guys you can fill up your store with new stuff to offset the used stuff.

    Providing lessons and then providing instruments and accessories to these local beginners is good too. Typically a teacher and store split the lesson fee 50/50. And when the student is in the store for his lesson he will buy strings and another stuff. Building up a good stable of teachers and students is good for the bottom line.

    Ultimately any smaller music store has to provide a high level of service and become a hang out space for local musicians if they want to succeed.

    buying and selling and fixing used instruments is the way to make it, having a hang out spot and providing lessons allows you to sustain your business.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2021
  8. Rickety

    Rickety Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    30
    Messages:
    80
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2021
    Location:
    Devils Lake, ND
    Awesome stuff! Thanks! I definitely don't plan on trying to become a mini-GC because 1.) that's unattainable when starting out, and 2.) my music inspiration comes from a punk/pop-punk background so f*** the man, y'know lol

    I was mainly saying Fender and Gibson to get a baseline on how partnering with different companies worked, I didn't know there was such a different world between Fender/Gibson and the other, smaller guys, all of that information that I've gotten from everyone is extremely helpful and any Fender/Gibson equipment that I would be considering (having learned all of this) would definitely be used items.

    Making a space for teachers is something I definitely would be looking into, and creating a space for musicians was always a goal. Online e-commerce is also a way that I would be planning to supplement the business and bring in additional income, I'm pretty good at SEO and working with Google Ads so getting the name out there wouldn't be a huge burden.

    I'm currently working through the steps of learning to repair guitars, I'm starting out by modding an existing guitar that I have now, then I plan to make a partscaster and ultimately dip my hands into luthier work to really learn the ins and outs of how to build and repair guitars so that I can offer that service and maybe even sell my own handmade guitars through the shop.
     
    3bolt79 and Scott Baxendale like this.
  9. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    66
    Messages:
    3,771
    Joined:
    May 20, 2020
    Location:
    Athens Ga
    You can always hire a service tech. The split should be 60/40 to him if he does the work on your premises. You make all the profit on the parts. Having a guy leaves you to do other stuff such as e-commerce or lessons. Also, if the bulk of your business is e-commerce then you don’t need the store front overhead which doesn’t really make for a local music store environment. Of course you can do both which is what most folks do. I sell a lot on Instagram.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2021
    3bolt79 and simoncroft like this.
  10. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster

    Messages:
    26,243
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2015
    Location:
    Sachse TX behind the cemetary
    That usually ends up a 60/40 as long as the owner is present.
     
  11. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    66
    Messages:
    3,771
    Joined:
    May 20, 2020
    Location:
    Athens Ga
    Yeah, I’ve certainly met some thieving so-called repair techs along my journey. Also, if you plan on having a successful store you will need to physically be there everyday from opening to closing.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2021
    jimrockcity and 3bolt79 like this.
  12. Rickety

    Rickety Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    30
    Messages:
    80
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2021
    Location:
    Devils Lake, ND
    I think, if anything, I would hire someone for the e-commerce side, I like working with my hands too much to sit back and watch someone else do it while I'm glued to a computer screen lol I already sit in front of a computer all day at work and I hate it. The more I work on stuff with my hands, tinkering, fixing, inventing, the more stress seems to melt away, so I would definitely need to handle the repairs. Maybe contract the work for a while until I get good at it and then hire someone on to handle the e-commerce side of things.
     
    3bolt79 and Scott Baxendale like this.
  13. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    66
    Messages:
    3,771
    Joined:
    May 20, 2020
    Location:
    Athens Ga
    You can start small by buying used guitars, fixing them and then flipping them. As you build up your skills you can slowly expand until you have a small store’s worth of inventory.
     
    3bolt79, davi3blu3 and Rickety like this.
  14. Guy Named Sue

    Guy Named Sue Censored

    Messages:
    27,604
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2015
    Location:
    Terra Incognita
    We have a place here called Twang. The owner is a really nice guy. When you enter the first floor is a Cafe during the day and turns into a bar at night. The floor below is filled with old used guitars and amps. Sometimes they have a stage there and have a local musician play for a small crowd.

    The place is loved and it's usually full of life on the first floor. They're open up til 10 pm.
    2018-05-09.jpg twang (1).jpg twang.jpg

    However, the place isn't what you'd call a great economical investment. There have been periods where it's been empty, no one going in there because the cost of living in that area has risen and driven off the usual customers. There have been periods where the owner has had to work with no pay.

    So, there's that. But I love to go there whenever I can. Try some guitars, enjoy some beers. As a customer I love that it exists.
     
  15. Stormy Monday

    Stormy Monday Blooze daddy Silver Member

    Messages:
    14,522
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2011
    Location:
    almost gone
    having tried t start a few businesses and running more, you should think about starting a business plan sooner than later. This will be putting your thoughts down and seeing if there is any money in it.
     
  16. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    66
    Messages:
    3,771
    Joined:
    May 20, 2020
    Location:
    Athens Ga
    I bet this guy makes more money off of drinks than he does selling guitars.
     
    3bolt79 and Guy Named Sue like this.
  17. velvet_man

    velvet_man Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    1,183
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2016
    Location:
    Vancouver
    I don't have much to add to this other than a few observations I've made recently on smaller music shops that are managing to stay open. The main takeaway is that they are not just music shops. They have all diversified in one way or another.

    One shop is a combo coffee shop/music store. People go in, get a coffee, and hang out. Other people, like me, wander in to see what they have for sale and pick up a coffee while there (and some strings). I found out he also rents PAs and the like, which I will probably take advantage of with my band at some point. This place has been running for years in a town with a population of 16,000.

    Another shop I came across recently is a combo vinyl record shop/second-hand music shop/live venue. The place was packed with people and seemed to be a go-to hangout, but this was in a modestly sized city.

    The other one that stood out recently is just down the road from me. This is a big city, but we're kind of in a less accessible part of it that most folks who live in this city never go to. This place has a small shop in the front that carries all the usual accessories and a small variety of instruments, but their main business is their spaces and teachers. They offer private lessons on just about every instrument, and they do group lessons for schools and private groups. They even run day camps (like a School of Rock kind of thing) during the summer and spring break. On top of that, they have a recording studio in the back, which they incorporate into the business in a few ways. You can rent it as a recording studio (with the option to pay extra for an engineer to be there to help you if you need it) or just as a rehearsal space for your band, but they also tie it into some of their lessons and camps, making recordings of the kids that they can take home to their parents.
     
    jtoomuch, 3bolt79 and Rickety like this.
  18. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster

    Messages:
    26,243
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2015
    Location:
    Sachse TX behind the cemetary
    I am sure this does not apply to Scott or the original poster.....

    Three music store owners I worked for were crooks.
     
    Thrup'ny Bit, Nate D, 3bolt79 and 2 others like this.
  19. Rickety

    Rickety Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    30
    Messages:
    80
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2021
    Location:
    Devils Lake, ND
    Not a bad idea, I have started to think about looking around ebay and other sites for used guitars that might need work, but it's hard to find them when you have to sift through 100s of dedicated ebay shops, new guitars and people selling at retail price for their NOS or recently purchased guitars.

    This is something that I've been considering, actually attaching something else to the shop to supplement income as well. I was thinking of maybe a general media store (we don't have one) like for games, movies, vinyl, etc. with a music store attached with instruments and accessories. I've also floated the idea of having lesson rooms in the back for private lessons that teachers can rent out so they can get the lessons out of their home and into a professional space. All-in-all I would like to transform this idea into a hang-out/music store where people can come and chill, play some music, and buy what they need instead of driving 90 miles just to be told "We don't sell guitars anymore."

    Definitely will be operating by the book lol my girlfriend would personally arrest me if she found out I was cooking books or selling fraudulent merchandise lol
     
    3bolt79 likes this.
  20. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    66
    Messages:
    3,771
    Joined:
    May 20, 2020
    Location:
    Athens Ga
    A lot of them are crooks. Buy low/sell high is their motto.

    This is not what a true Mom & Pop music store is, however.
     
    3bolt79 likes this.