Falcetti’s ‘Music Concept Store’ Caters to All Ages
Dominating the Western Massachusetts music market, Falcetti Music has been around for 50 years. Owner Anselmo “Sam” Falcetti began his business in 1957 while still attending college. He borrowed $50 from his mother to open the first Falcetti Music Studio in Westfield, Massachusetts. With only 10 students and a potbelly stove to heat his store, Sam Falcetti grew his business from those humble beginnings.
Today, with six locations throughout western Massachusetts and Connecticut, Falcetti Music is a family business run by Sam, his wife, Peggy, and their two sons, Tony and Mike.
“We tried to develop ourselves in the community first, and we like to consider ourselves a real part of this community,” reflects Sam Falcetti. “In fact, in all of Western Massachusetts, if you say the name ‘Falcetti,’ people say ‘music’, and if you say ‘music’, people will say the name ‘Falcetti.’ We do have a brand name in the business, and if I have to choose the one thing we accomplished that I am most proud of, it’s that.”
Falcetti’s latest accomplishment is their new location in Enfield, Connecticut. Falcetti Music has been a fixture in the town for over 43 years, when Sam opened up a music studio with very limited selling in 1963. In the late 1970s the location became a general music store, and this past April, Falcetti Music moved to a different location in Enfield and opened their new “music concept store.”
“Falcetti music did not move away from the fact that we started as a teaching studio operation — that was always a major thread in our organization,” says Sam Falcetti.
“A lot of people start in certain directions, and as the next hottest craze comes along, they abandon one idea and go for the new one. We adapted all of the new technology with this store, but we still kept the original studio operation we started with. I think that’s important because it’s one thing to sell musical instruments in a box, but it’s another thing to sell a musical instrument and see the child, the adult, and the senior learn how to play it and get enjoyment out of it, and most music stores across the country don’t see that. That is one of the real accomplishments for us. We were able to keep the old and go on with the new.”
Just like Sam Falcetti mentioned, his new Enfield music concept store consists of all of the old with a mixture of new. “When we moved here, my son Tony said to me, ‘Dad, just let me run with it’. His mother and I stayed in the background and let him do his thing, and he did, and the store came out beautiful.”
“My wife and I designed the store,” says Tony Falcetti. “At our Springfield (Mass.) location, in the downstairs area we have five separate stores which are all glassed in like separate stores. We call it our ‘Music Mall’. We took a look at that store, which is also our corporate offices, and we took out all of the (office) space and looked at how we are using space and how much space we actually need for retail. We found that within five or six thousand square feet, we could do our new concept.”
When the new location in Enfield became available, Tony knew that he was going to make the current 3,200 square foot space into a 5,300 square foot music store. The old location had five private teachers, and they wanted to expand that to eight or nine, because their student population was growing and they had waiting lists. The new location now is home to nine private teachers. Tony also wanted a performance room for the home organ classes. Part of this concept was to drive more outside piano teachers to have their recitals at the new Enfield location, as well as for Falcetti Music to host private recitals and other types of events and clinics.
“The front part of the store evolved after I had taken a look at another store which was a teaching operation and had a small café,” explained Tony. “I liked the concept of a café, or a gathering place within a music store to basically create a musical community. I think we live in an age where gathering places are a big thing, and what better to talk about when you are at one than music. We wanted to create an environment where people would come to just hang out and have a place where everyone from five to 105 will feel comfortable.”
Tony explained that originally the café was going to be at the back of the store closer to the student waiting area. When he looked at the concept a little closer, he decided it should be in the front window as a focal point, so people walking by can look in and see it as a gathering place. Another feature of the café is that it is wired for laptops, so students and customers can come in, hang out, and surf the Web.
“The goal is to eventually have musicians think and say, ‘Let’s go to Falcetti’s, grab a coffee, check out some gear, and sit and talk,” says Tony. “We want musicians to start coming here instead of some other coffee places and create this sort of musical community.”
“Having the café is a nice touch,” agrees manager Tom Nowack. “Right now we are just getting off the ground with having entertainment and have been doing an acoustic night and get good crowds. We really want to expand on that and get it to be a weekly event, and if it takes off, maybe do more.”
Nowack goes on to say, “We have people who come in here because they saw the coffee sign and just want a cup of coffee, they can’t even believe it’s a music store. They see it from the outside and think it is just a café. Everyone has commented, especially the non-music people, about how different our store is. It’s a very busy store.”
The Combo Area
Bringing Falcetti’s Springfield location “Music Mall” approach to their new Enfield location, the combo area is glassed in to appear like a separate store. This gives people who want to buy combo instruments a certain type of environment where they can go in, crank up the gear, and do what they need to do without disturbing customers in the café and students in the lesson rooms.
“Everything is sort of segregated here,” says Sam Falcetti. “The kids can go in the combo area and do what they want and play the instruments they want. The older folks can go in and have their organ lessons without being disturbed.”
The Piano Department
When Tony Falcetti was designing the store, his vision for the piano departments was to create three different living room setups, all with a homey, relaxing atmosphere. This way the customers can feel like they are in their living room, and envision what the piano would look like at home. This area also features artwork on the walls for a sophisticated feel.
Sam Falcetti likes this concept, and says, “I think Falcetti Music has not shut our eyes on the changes in the industry, such as Disklavier rooms. In our store, we have a very warm atmosphere, which makes the customer feel at ease when they are spending $17,000 for a piano. The customer needs to be comfortable while in the buying process; that’s a very important part of business.”
As far as pianos and organs go, Falcetti’s carries Yamaha as their main piano line, as well as Hazelton Brothers. In organs, featured brands are Rowland and Lowrey, with class programs offered for both lines.
Also worth mentioning is the new Enfield location doesn’t have any desks for the sales personnel. Instead, there is a counter area if the sales staff needs to do some paperwork, but Tony prefers if they sit in the café, or meet with customers on the sofa in the piano room. He wanted to remove the barrier of sales people behind desks, and make it more personal and one-on-one when dealing with a customer.
At the old Enfield location, there were only four teaching rooms, and Tony says they were maxed out for private teaching lessons. At the new location, the nine teaching rooms are able to keep taking on more students.
“Some of our stores only have organ lessons, but this store is unique in the fact that in addition to the organ programs, we have a full range of lessons in guitar, bass, drums, vocal, and so on. That is a huge part of our success in having about 500 students every week with the age range of five to the mid-80s,” says manager Tom Nowack. “Having that built-in traffic every week helps with students buying step-up instruments, effects pedals, strings, and so on. Just the revenue stream from the lessons is a good shot in the arm, and helps get the bills paid. Everything else becomes gravy on top.”
The organ lessons are group lessons for adults 55 years and older. It’s really more of an emphasis on fun, says Nowack, and the adults love it. He goes on to say the organ teachers us Hal Leonard’s Easy Play music with the big notes.
The Finished Product
The Falcettis are thrilled with how their new space turned out, and according to Tony, there is still plenty of room for growth. He adds, “It was hard to create an environment that caters to the demographic of the rock-n-roller, or the demographic of our organ group, which has an average age of 75. The interesting thing is everyone at every age who walks into the store thinks it’s cool, warm, and comfortable. Everyone has their own words to describe the store, but it is always positive.”