The Stratosphere's curious business model...

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by AxemanVR, Jan 6, 2021.

  1. Uncle Fiesta

    Uncle Fiesta Senior Stratmaster

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    Blimey that's true! I have bought a couple of bodies and necks from Stratosphere but the shipping from USA kills it somewhat, also the VAT (although I can't remember whether I got charged that or not, it was a few years ago now). And the Royal Mail put a handling charge on top, which is just crazy as they'd have to handle it wherever it came from.
     
  2. 66musicmaster

    66musicmaster Strat-O-Master

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    I've seen vids on YT where folks are buying guitar stuff from them. So maybe they are buying the blems or whatever when they can? Then they part it out and sell it to you. So you buy a Gibson LP with serial #. How is that regiustered with mfr? Or do you ever have any kind of backing with that s/n? IS it in the Gibson database? Same would hold true with Fender stuff. And in a few years, guys are on here trying to run a s/n. Wonder if it will show up? And that would only be the neck on a fender, right? Body has no serial. Just a thought.

    Also I am trying to resolve an issue with them. I put several parts in my cart in ebay, messaged them about combining shipping. She told me what to do and I did it. Requested total with combined shipping. A loaded pg, a neck plate, and a jack plate. My reasoning as a fair ebay seller would be that the shipping would be $12 for the pg and nothing else, since the other parts weigh nothing, take up no space. So should be $12 instead of $18. I requested total on 1/4 and again on 1/6, as ebay was threatening to open an unpaid buyer claim. I have heard NOTHING from stratosphere, so the unpaid claim is now open. And they aren't answering me at all. Can't call them because EBAY. This is so simple. Are they on vacation? Or???? So my ebay account has to suffer? Ebay support has said if the claim actually stays in place, that I will be able to appeal it because they aren't replying. So I am fairly certain, if they don't work this out with me, I'll take my money elsewhere.
     
  3. spistrat

    spistrat New Member!

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    I built a Strat using a USA-made body and neck from the Stratosphere, and used non-Fender boutique pickups and bridge parts. It ended up costing me less than buying a US Strat, and plays just as good.
     
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  4. Imtxn

    Imtxn Strat-Talk Member

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    I would imagine they buy the pieces unassembled. That saves all the build costs, set-up costs, & marketing.
    Buyer pays the shipping too.
     
  5. brashboy

    brashboy Strat-Talk Member

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    Nobody cares. If Stratosphere was deep-discounting guitars, that would be one thing, Gibson and other dealers would scream. But no one cares about parts.
     
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  6. misterwogan

    misterwogan Senior Stratmaster

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    In 2011, I bought from them all the bits which when assembled amounted to being a 2010 American Deluxe Strat. Kept it for a few months and then sold it for a nice profit. This was it when I sold it in 2012.

    1.jpg
     
  7. rcole_sooner

    rcole_sooner Most Honored Senior Member

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    They are always on my list of places to check part prices and availability.

    I've bought quite a bit of stuff from them.

    Not every part on these guitars came from them, but the bodies did for sure.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. 66musicmaster

    66musicmaster Strat-O-Master

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    Update on my situation - today, I sent one more message to them asking for an invoice and they have sent it and I paid. I know it's been holidays and such. So my situation is ok for the moment. now waiting for parts.
     
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  9. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Silver Member

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    `
    Here's something some of you old timers might remember: I was looking back at my purchases from the Stratosphere a few years back (2011) and was reminded that their eBay ID used to be "reliablefender"...

    eBay '52 Hot Rod Tele Neck a 11-28-2011.jpg


    `
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2021
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  10. Pandamasque

    Pandamasque Strat-Talker

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    I wonder what factors dictate which specific guitars get parted out for sale via Stratosphere.
    Certain random models they have a lot of, while other series are rare. For example there are currently no Road Worn guitars and only 2 Am Original necks. At the same time there's a surprising number of Jimmy Page signature Dragon Tele bodies!
     
  11. Joelish

    Joelish New Member!

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    As far as aftermarket necks go, they are one of the best places to get an affordable neck that is cheaper than a Fender but still trusted brands made in Japan or America (allparts, wd, mighty mite). I've seen allparts necks as cheap as $100.
     
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  12. Bob Smith

    Bob Smith New Member!

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    They don’t just buy from manufacturers, but also buy used right off Reverb. This is probably the case with most of the the “older” parts. Just do a search of Reverb of recently sold items and you very likely will “find” it.

    I discovered this after combing their listings for over a year for a custom shop made strat hardtail body. After over a year, one finally came up. I was really happy, then I saw the rest of the guitar come up, so I decided to buy all the parts and keep it together (probably paid more then I should, but it was a really cool hardtail that you almost never see). Then I found the guitar sold whole on reverb. I emailed the dude and he told be he was a bit shocked about what happened after he sold it but figured it would have been flipped. (He was a small music store owner himself and had just bought it from a customer).

    The great majority of their “new” parts are originally sold to a place called Manchester Music Mill. (Located 30 miles west of them.) You can see it on almost every custom shop floor traveler that they post. I’m not sure what their relationship is, but they are definitely in cahoots of some kind or another. I’m sure Fender knows what’s up too.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2021
  13. easterik

    easterik Strat-Talk Member

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    I obviously have no direct insight into why Stratosphere operates the way that they do or any of their decision making. But it seems to me like they have a few things going for them.

    1) They found a niche market and have been able to exploit it. I'm sure that they have some competition but I don't know of any other business that does what they do. I think that the discussion on this thread sort of proves this point. This would also imply that they are not competing with any of the online retailers that are in a different market segment. This has a bunch of financial benefits such as lower marketing costs, lower overhead, etc. This reminds me of an article I read about a guy who started a business and all he deals in is parts for the Pontiac Fiero. If I remember correctly, he was netting somewhere in the 2 to 3 million dollars a year range.

    2) They are the first in this niche and so they are at the top of the market and this creates a natural barrier to entry for other potential competitors. I'm not suggesting that they aren't vulnerable to competition. If they are smart, they will keep an eye on the market. For example, consider eBay. They were the first major online auction. They have certainly faced competition but since they were first it gave them an advantage.

    3) By operating in a niche market, Stratosphere has a completely different customer base than the major online retailers. While there is some obvious overlap, the major online and larger retailers have to appeal to a much broader spectrum of customers as well as several other instrument categories (drums, keyboards, acoustic guitars, etc.). The major retailers have significant amounts of capital tied up in inventory. Stratosphere obviously has inventory as well but the overall number of SKUs is going to be greatly reduced to meeting the needs of a focused niche.

    So while it might seem that Stratosphere would have larger margins by selling complete guitars, that might not actually be the case because they may have eliminated other overhead costs by not competing with other online music retailers. I don't know if this is actually the case but just suggesting that it is a possibility. Just given that Stratosphere is such a different business than other musical instrument retailers, I suspect that their cost structure is going to be significantly different, maybe not in the ways I've suggest but still quite different.
     
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  14. Neil.C

    Neil.C Most Honored Senior Member

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    The handling charge is to work out and pay the VAT on your behalf to HMRC.
     
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  15. Neil.C

    Neil.C Most Honored Senior Member

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    Business opportunity for you?
     
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  16. Gas4Strats

    Gas4Strats Strat-Talker

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    I would only go to Stratophere to buy a one-off part or to create a custom build you cannot get elsewhere. If you can but what you want whole that always a better idea. And do not forget that a professional setup may be needed.
     
  17. slowesthand

    slowesthand Senior Stratmaster

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    Complete guitars don't sell as fast as the parts do. And often they need to be sold at a discount off what looks like the retail price.
     
  18. Skrofhyrguitarism

    Skrofhyrguitarism Strat-Talker

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    No doubt...one part culture, one part management. Customers often interfere with checking their likes on Facebook. Suffice to say, the bar is not lowered...it rarely exists. If you live with the folks until your thirty years old, and you believe that actually doing something in exchange for a paycheck is an imposition you may be part of the crowd that thinks they are smarter than everyone else and that older people are stupid. That is as nice as I can say it....
     
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  19. lammie200

    lammie200 Senior Stratmaster

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    I would say so. I am wondering how the maths would work out on a Strat or Tele though. The SG stuff that you bought seems like a one off for them and maybe they just needed to get rid of it.
     
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  20. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Silver Member

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    Yeah, I do think I got kind of lucky, but, then again, sometimes luck beats skill... ;)