27th Annual 50 Dealer 50 State Review & Forecast
It’s not news that the recession and lingering economic uncertainty remain big – by almost all measurements, the biggest – challenges for all American consumers and businesses. MI retail is certainly no exception when it comes to these tough hurdles, but our 27th end-of-year survey of music stores across the country seems to suggest that some truly are seeing things take a turn for the better.
“It seems like customers, while still being a bit cautious, are starting to open up a bit and do some of the things they have been holding back on, due to economic fears,” observes Greg Gantzer of Camden, Delaware’s B&B Music & Sound. Or, as put even more optimistically, by Art Mauney of Bulldog Music (Boiling Springs, North Carolina): “I think we have seen the light at the end of the tunnel, and 2011 will be the big turnaround year.”
Like most businesses which have managed to weather recent economic hardships, many of the folks we spoke with indicated that the recession forced them to rethink how they approached elements of their operation, ultimately improving the overall model. Additionally, retailers are taking advantage of new and emerging platforms and technologies to attract and maintain customers, as evidenced by the response we received when we asked MI operations about their involvement with social networking sites. “We use Facebook all the time, Twitter to a lesser extent,” said Tim Emery of Buckdancer’s Choice Music in Portland, Maine. “We blast when we get really cool new stuff, and it works incredibly well for promoting events.”
So was 2010 a return to the salad days of, say, a decade ago? The vast majority would be on board with a resounding reply of, “No!” so it’s probably not appropriate to bust out the Champagne just yet… But are things improving? Times are still tough, sure – but is it better, even if not as much so as we’d like, than this time last year? To plagiarize my college roommate’s Magic 8 Ball: “Signs point to yes.” Or, as Tony Bernard of Tucson, Arizona’s Sticks n’ Strings Music put it, “The outlook for 2011 is positive. We will continue to change with the times.”