Anyone own a music store?

Wrighty

Dr. Stratster
Mar 7, 2013
10,366
Harlow, Essex, UK
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.

Go used and you’ll be competing with on-line buyers for stock and then selling back to those who don’t buy on line for more money.
 

henderman

Dr. Stratster
Dec 4, 2013
10,629
largo,fl
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.

you need several teachers working for you. they can earn good money if they can fill up their schedule and you get whatever the cut is times how many teachers.

it is basically the same model as barbers/hairdressers renting a chair in a salon.
 

Wrighty

Dr. Stratster
Mar 7, 2013
10,366
Harlow, Essex, UK
Dad had a free hand as manager of a local music shop in the 60’s. Started as a sewing machine shop, which was doing OK but Dad bought some B stock acoustic guitars to jump in on the beat boom and within 18 months was running a music shop! Owner blew the profits and eventually went skint. But, it wouldn’t have survived long anyway with the advent of the ‘super stores’.

Name drop alert!!!!!!!! Martin Taylor bought his first ‘proper’ guitar, a Hofner, I think, from my Dad. Saved up his pocket money ‘til, eventually, Dad let him have it interest free. Used to to put a small Selmer amp outside and Martin would draw quite a crowd.
 

Jwalker99

Strat-Talker
Apr 7, 2019
133
Chicago
While a cool idea, my local music store is great but always has a tough time. Online Competition from Reverb and Amazon squeezes their profits. If not for local school instrument rentals, they would have gone bankrupt and almost did w covid halting school music programs last year. The owner is a friend and a Very smart guy with a great positive attitude. All around business man. He buys and sells all sorts of collectibles thru their online eBay store , produces local concerts.

You should network w music store owners owners, go to NAMM website, call them too. National Assoc Music Merchants says it all in their name and see what resources they have.

the most popular new music store is probably Walt Grace in Miami, fl. They have a coffee bar, a used vintage car collection for sale, huge selection of new guitArs / amps, vintage guitar , all in a big beautiful store in the middle of a trendy area.
https://waltgracevintage.com/

Lastly, start a reverb store channel for free and start buying and reselling gear to see how you like it.
 

fretflip

New Member!
Mar 12, 2019
5
Paradise City
Start small and let it grow. One idea is to stock things like strings and picks, people are willing to pay premium if available up front, let people know on facebook or any other channel of choice and the word will spread. For guitars and amps etc, you can act as a broker on the market for used gear, just let people know that they can tell you if they got anything for sell or want to buy.

If you want to open a store, word will spread among your existing customers, 'this good guy just opened a store go visit for guitars and gear'.
 

Rickety

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 6, 2021
80
Devils Lake, ND
While a cool idea, my local music store is great but always has a tough time. Online Competition from Reverb and Amazon squeezes their profits. If not for local school instrument rentals, they would have gone bankrupt and almost did w covid halting school music programs last year. The owner is a friend and a Very smart guy with a great positive attitude. All around business man. He buys and sells all sorts of collectibles thru their online eBay store , produces local concerts.

You should network w music store owners owners, go to NAMM website, call them too. National Assoc Music Merchants says it all in their name and see what resources they have.

the most popular new music store is probably Walt Grace in Miami, fl. They have a coffee bar, a used vintage car collection for sale, huge selection of new guitArs / amps, vintage guitar , all in a big beautiful store in the middle of a trendy area.
https://waltgracevintage.com/

Lastly, start a reverb store channel for free and start buying and reselling gear to see how you like it.
On the subject of being pushed out of the market by stores like Amazon and Reverb... I understand the sentiment and I understand the fears that people have about those platforms. What I can never fully grasp, however, is the idea that these businesses are just too big to fail and you will never stand a chance in competing with them. See, that's what people said about Blockbuster until Netflix came along, and that's also what people said about Border's Books until Amazon showed up. Now, do I have some pipe dream that I'm going to bull rush the market with a website that will overtake these corporate giants in the same way that they overtook their early competitors? No, I'm not that naive, but what I do understand is that if people don't at least try to make it, at least try to bring in some competition, and at least try to make a name for themselves in these markets, then these larger corporations WILL be too big to fail because they intimidate everyone into staying out of the market.

I say all of that to say this... I understand that it's a slow road, I understand that my market may not be the absolute best one to start in, but everyone has to start somewhere and the largest companies on the face of the planet started out in someone's garage with some equipment and an idea. With the advice that I've gotten here, I can apply it to my future endeavors and work towards something that I hope will change the music space in my small town, and who knows... maybe even my state if I can learn to scale properly. I don't have pie in the sky dreams with this, hell I don't think I would even like running a national chain (if, by some miracle, it ever came to that), I just want to give the musicians in my town the ability to buy what they need without needing to drive an hour and a half just to NOT get what they need.

I think I might start with the Reverb store though, that's a really interesting suggestion, give myself the opportunity to try it out and see what I think about buying and selling merchandise... I'll have to be careful though... I might wind up keeping all of the equipment and never wanting to sell it lol
 

cglasford

Strat-Talk Member
Dec 15, 2020
98
St Paul Minnesota
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.
I was just going to say that you can keep your business afloat just by renting school instruments. I don't own a shop but have a couple friends that do and one of them, their primary business is renting and repairing school instruments for their school and the surrounding communities. the other primary income comes from lessons. I would also consider the used market for most of your stock but also look at smaller brands like G&L and Reverend. I don't think they require you to carry as much as say fender and gibson
 

Nashkat

Strat-Talk Member
Mar 9, 2021
28
Philippines
Like I stated previously, I don't know much about running a business right now, but I'm learning little by little. I'm taking the advice that I've gained from here and factoring it into my future endeavors. This isn't something that I plan to open within the next year or two, until I know what I'm doing.
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!

I remember when Corner Music was just a small mom n pop store....Nashville Used Music over on Nolensville Rd was the go to store...things have sure changed since them days!
 

Likewood

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 3, 2013
18
New Hampshire
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.

Fender did a disservice to their authorized dealers by allowing purchases from Fender online direct. Not cool.
Overall internet sales has hurt such stores. Frequently I read about people going into local store to try out a guitar but then go online to buy.

My local small store has adapted by some of the previous points raised: offices for teachers and their students, accessories for classes, rentals, repairs, and brands and unique models not available online. Also Being savvy on trades and sales on Reverb also helped.
 
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nickmsmith

Dr. Stratster
Jul 28, 2011
13,493
USA
On the subject of being pushed out of the market by stores like Amazon and Reverb... I understand the sentiment and I understand the fears that people have about those platforms. What I can never fully grasp, however, is the idea that these businesses are just too big to fail and you will never stand a chance in competing with them. See, that's what people said about Blockbuster until Netflix came along, and that's also what people said about Border's Books until Amazon showed up. Now, do I have some pipe dream that I'm going to bull rush the market with a website that will overtake these corporate giants in the same way that they overtook their early competitors? No, I'm not that naive, but what I do understand is that if people don't at least try to make it, at least try to bring in some competition, and at least try to make a name for themselves in these markets, then these larger corporations WILL be too big to fail because they intimidate everyone into staying out of the market.

I say all of that to say this... I understand that it's a slow road, I understand that my market may not be the absolute best one to start in, but everyone has to start somewhere and the largest companies on the face of the planet started out in someone's garage with some equipment and an idea. With the advice that I've gotten here, I can apply it to my future endeavors and work towards something that I hope will change the music space in my small town, and who knows... maybe even my state if I can learn to scale properly. I don't have pie in the sky dreams with this, hell I don't think I would even like running a national chain (if, by some miracle, it ever came to that), I just want to give the musicians in my town the ability to buy what they need without needing to drive an hour and a half just to NOT get what they need.

I think I might start with the Reverb store though, that's a really interesting suggestion, give myself the opportunity to try it out and see what I think about buying and selling merchandise... I'll have to be careful though... I might wind up keeping all of the equipment and never wanting to sell it lol


Those people who beat the “unbeatable” companies are ones with innovative ideas, right at the forefront of a revolution in that industry. Netflix with streaming, when blockbuster refused to adapt with the times. Amazon being an online book retailer who very successfully expanded. Not sure where the untapped market is with musical instruments, because it’s already booming online.
 

ibdrkn1

Senior Stratmaster
May 14, 2019
2,092
Ontario
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.)

It was mentioned earlier but in my area small private music stores almost always start off with mainly used instruments (many on consignment) and services (repairs/lessons).

Over time they transition into new instruments. For me that's always a little sad as that makes what was a unique store into the same as any other store.
 

Scott Baxendale

Senior Stratmaster
Gold Supporting Member
May 20, 2020
3,782
Athens Ga
On the subject of being pushed out of the market by stores like Amazon and Reverb... I understand the sentiment and I understand the fears that people have about those platforms. What I can never fully grasp, however, is the idea that these businesses are just too big to fail and you will never stand a chance in competing with them. See, that's what people said about Blockbuster until Netflix came along, and that's also what people said about Border's Books until Amazon showed up. Now, do I have some pipe dream that I'm going to bull rush the market with a website that will overtake these corporate giants in the same way that they overtook their early competitors? No, I'm not that naive, but what I do understand is that if people don't at least try to make it, at least try to bring in some competition, and at least try to make a name for themselves in these markets, then these larger corporations WILL be too big to fail because they intimidate everyone into staying out of the market.

I say all of that to say this... I understand that it's a slow road, I understand that my market may not be the absolute best one to start in, but everyone has to start somewhere and the largest companies on the face of the planet started out in someone's garage with some equipment and an idea. With the advice that I've gotten here, I can apply it to my future endeavors and work towards something that I hope will change the music space in my small town, and who knows... maybe even my state if I can learn to scale properly. I don't have pie in the sky dreams with this, hell I don't think I would even like running a national chain (if, by some miracle, it ever came to that), I just want to give the musicians in my town the ability to buy what they need without needing to drive an hour and a half just to NOT get what they need.

I think I might start with the Reverb store though, that's a really interesting suggestion, give myself the opportunity to try it out and see what I think about buying and selling merchandise... I'll have to be careful though... I might wind up keeping all of the equipment and never wanting to sell it lol
You know what Amazon and Reverb can’t do? Service. Music stores need to be service oriented today to survive.
 

Scott Baxendale

Senior Stratmaster
Gold Supporting Member
May 20, 2020
3,782
Athens Ga
It was mentioned earlier but in my area small private music stores almost always start off with mainly used instruments (many on consignment) and services (repairs/lessons).

Over time they transition into new instruments. For me that's always a little sad as that makes what was a unique store into the same as any other store.
There is no point to ever transition to carrying new lines of instruments. The big corporate guitar factories rig the game against the small independent store.
 

Rickety

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 6, 2021
80
Devils Lake, ND
There is no point to ever transition to carrying new lines of instruments. The big corporate guitar factories rig the game against the small independent store.
Say someone came along, a wealthy individual (hypothetically), who could rig the game against the big guys and give the little guys a fighting chance again. Do you think it would be possible for someone to come in and invest lots of money into smaller shops so that they could compete, driving the big guys out of town? I mean, if someone were to go to small music stores that surround GC locations and dumped a few hundred thousand into each.
 

ibdrkn1

Senior Stratmaster
May 14, 2019
2,092
Ontario
There is no point to ever transition to carrying new lines of instruments. The big corporate guitar factories rig the game against the small independent store.
For me, once a store stops carrying used instruments I stop going to it.

Haven't bought a new guitar in over 15 years despite constantly having new to me guitars.

Where I live most independent stores end up getting bought by a large chain, then have all the same stuff all the other stores have (with none of it being of any interest to me).
 

Scott Baxendale

Senior Stratmaster
Gold Supporting Member
May 20, 2020
3,782
Athens Ga
Say someone came along, a wealthy individual (hypothetically), who could rig the game against the big guys and give the little guys a fighting chance again. Do you think it would be possible for someone to come in and invest lots of money into smaller shops so that they could compete, driving the big guys out of town? I mean, if someone were to go to small music stores that surround GC locations and dumped a few hundred thousand into each.
I suppose it’s possible? But it’s highly unlikely. That’s kinda like saying: one rich guy could end homelessness.
 

Scott Baxendale

Senior Stratmaster
Gold Supporting Member
May 20, 2020
3,782
Athens Ga
For me, once a store stops carrying used instruments I stop going to it.

Haven't bought a new guitar in over 15 years despite constantly having new to me guitars.

Where I live most independent stores end up getting bought by a large chain, then have all the same stuff all the other stores have (with none of it being of any interest to me).
Exactly!
 

Stormy Monday

Blooze daddy
Silver Member
Jan 19, 2011
14,554
almost gone
It was mentioned earlier but in my area small private music stores almost always start off with mainly used instruments (many on consignment) and services (repairs/lessons).

Over time they transition into new instruments. For me that's always a little sad as that makes what was a unique store into the same as any other store.

I wish there was a small local store that focused on used gear. I'd be broke
 
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