Fresh Faces: BT’s Guitar Shop
A Dream Comes to Fruition with a Little Help from Craigslist..In this day and age it’s almost impossible to not be familiar with everything that goes on in our cities, suburbs, and small towns. Information is at our fingertips (literally) via the Web and, with the advent of Face- book, MySpace, Craigslist, et cetera, there’s no escaping even the minor details of the lives of people we know – or even only vaguely know.
Those who grew up in the pre-Internet age remember that, while it was perhaps more challenging to connect with others or track down data, relationships formed through face-to-face conversation hold a value that can’t be replaced by high- speed DSL connections or text messages.
BT’s Guitar Shop in South Lyons, Mich. represents a synergy between old and new: the store is a traditional, brick- and-mortar storefront with an approach- able, friendly staff with whom clients can easily have those types of meaningful, in-person connections – but it was a post- ing on Craigslist that served as the initial catalyst for owners Terry Trajkovski and Bill Welsh to start the business.
BT’s Guitar Shop specializes in new and used instruments, amplifiers and accessories as well offering lessons catering to all ages. Recently Terry and Bill took the time to tell me about the store and what the future may hold for them.
MMR: So tell us about the genesis of the store?
Bill Welsh: Our initial contact actually occurred from a Craigslist Ad. Terry Trajkovski owned the building that had previously housed another music store. That owner had to leave and vacated the shop, leaving really everything needed to run a music store, except merchandise. Terry was looking for someone who could run the store day to day, because he al- ready owns and operates a local family res- taurant in town called Alexander’s. I just happened to be looking thru the Craigslist
“There are opportunities out there and you have to make the most of any situation.”
ads and stumbled upon one, looking for someone to teach and possibly co-own the store. We contacted each other and we’re both residents of South Lyons – we both felt it was very important for the town to have a music store and the deal was struck; and BT’s Guitar Shop was born.
Terry Trajkovski: The response so far has been great. We held an open house and over 70 people attended. In fact at one point there was no room for anyone to move. The Welsh family really helped get the store into shape by giving it a complete face-lift. It is turning into a family business. Also the local paper has already done a fea- ture story on us. That really helped us to have more customers and students.
MMR: What kind of Guitar and amp lines are you currently carrying?
Terry and Bill: Right now we are mostly consignment. We are looking into guitar lines, but have yet to pull the trig- ger. We have our eyes on a couple of lines with small buy ins and yet offer great quality. Our main amp attraction is Guytron amps. Made in our home state of Michigan these amps are “boutique” with a capital B. The tone is amazing, the features are unreal. We are very happy to stock them. Also we have an actual amp build coming up where people can come in and build their very own, high qual- ity tube amp. This is done in conjunction with GDS/Guytron Amp owner Gray- don Stuckey. Graydon will actually be there to actually run the amp build. Also we carry V-Picks, which have been our most popular item.
MMR: How big is your store currently?
BW: We are around seven hundred square feet, with plenty of room for expansion. We wanted to start out small and build from there. We actually plan on adding another lesson room within the month.
MMR: How many employees currently work at the store?
TT: We have five instructors on staff for lessons. And for our sales floor the Welsh family is helping out. Linda runs the books, Kenny oversees and controls the website, and they both along with Bill Sr. help run the sales floor.
MMR: How do total sales break down, new vs. old?
TT: Our strings, straps, picks are all new. So from an instrument perspective it has been 100 percent used right now. But we have only been open for a month. So we expect that number to change as we build our lines.
MMR: Could you talk about the lessons you offer?
TT: Primarily we are a lesson studio that has retail. Bill is our main instructor and we have four more on staff (for when we open the second and third room). We are currently instructing 26 students. We feel that we will be able to teach 70-80 students, per week, as we continue to grow. Also we will have a Rock Star Day Camp this summer, and we also house two jam sessions per month for our stu- dents. We also have a password protected site for our students to get more informa- tion and lesson material via our Web site.
Our student population is composed of two groups of 8-14 year olds who are just starting out, and adults over 40. For the adults they fall into one of two groups, complete beginners and people who played 20 years ago and want to start again. We actually have three students in their 60s and they are doing great!
MMR: So what are your ulti- mate goals for the store?
Terry and Bill: Our ultimate goal is to teach the joy and fun that music can bring. I find that learning the guitar is so much more meaningful than just learn- ing an instrument. We are able to teach our students the importance of goal-set- ting and that what they put in is what they get out. That lessons can be taken into everyday life for any situation. We really would like to teach at least 70 stu- dents per week, have our Rock Star Day Camp filled in the summer, open up a small recording studio that the students can use, and build our retail space into two areas: one for total beginners, hous- ing very affordable quality instruments; and the other being for boutique amps and effects to attract the more seasoned players.
MMR: Any final thoughts?
BW: This has been a dream of both of ours for many years. And as the economy is suffering, especially here in Michigan, it’s just interesting to see how that has led us to finally do this. The economy had us both wondering what was next. There are opportunities out there and you have to make the most of any situation. We are looking forward to the future of BT’s Guitar Shop.
MMR: Thank you for your time guys and best of luck.