Fresh Faces: The Music Center Expands
Jonesboro has a population of about 70,000 and is not too far from Memphis. The Music Center’s customer base is, as Ivy puts it, “Mostly older people.” They are a full line store, but the best selling products are keyboards – Yamaha, Nord, and Kurzweil. How have they managed to do so well in a market that has not been thriving? Ivy laughs and responds, “It depends on how you demo it. We’ve done very well. Just this week, we’ve sold three professional-level keyboards. I’ve done some ads on radio and television, but to be honest, the best advertising comes from the meet and greets. I go to music clubs, go around and pass out cards, all kinds of things. Tonight, I’m playing with a gospel group from a neighboring town. I’m not being paid for it, but I’m helping them and, as a result, they come in and buy all of the gear at the store.”
Prior to opening the Music Center in 2009 with Ford, Perry Ivy was a salesman of sorts. He bought and sold cars, motorcycles, real estate, and anything else that he could put a price tag on. While Ford, at the time, was managing two music stores. Ivy had recently earned some extra cash and Ford was ready to move on. With Ivy’s $3,000 and Ford’s MI experience, they opened the Music Center. It has proved to be a successful venture.
Ivy and Ford have no employees and run all of the business operations. As Ivy explains, “Where Keith has weaknesses, I have strengths and vice versa. We put in systems to compensate for weaknesses. It’s all about planning. If you have a plan in place, the business will succeed.” Ford and Ivy’s backgrounds and styles seem to help balance things out. “Keith knows about the old school way of doing business, which is good because that’s they way people do business in this town. I’m more new school,” says Ivy. “Technology has changed the world and has changed the way people do business. I’m exposing Keith to that, and he exposes me to the old school way.”
For Ivy, opportunities for success are endless. “We are going to have an incredible 2011 because we’ve got momentum. We’ve come through a recession. We opened during a bad economic time, and we were pulling in some serious numbers. There we were, with $3,000 worth of equipment, in a small building, in the slums of the town, everything was against us. We had to hustle. I was on eBay all the time; we had to keep selling to stay in business. Now we don’t rely on the Internet as much, but we are doing a new Web site with a shopping cart.” Another boost for the Music Center was the closing of five other MI stores in the area. The oldest MI store in town will also be closing their doors this year, which will leave the Music Center along with one other store in town. Ivy’s thoughts on that, “We’re going to explode.”