50 Dealer 50 State Review & Forecast 2011/2012
In last year’s Report, we noted that economic uncertainty and the recession were the challenges most often cited by dealers as their “biggest concern” for the future. To be sure, the overall fiscal health of the nation – and the buying habits of its citizens as they struggle with employment, housing, and other related issues – remains a hot-button topic for MI retailers in 2012, but there was more… “variety” in the responses we received while compiling our 30th survey.
Myrna Sislen of Washington D.C.’s Middle C Music summed up (ironically) the myriad challenges facing dealers, aside from the more broad-stroke “economy” concerns: “What, me worry? With the Internet, MAP pricing, and competition from big box stores, this is the perfect time to be a small independent music store…”
Financial concerns, school budget cuts, and competition from online and big-box outlets – the playing field in 2012 is certainly no less challenging than in recent years. Mr. Music’s (Boston) Tom Barone summarized the concerns he shares with many of his colleagues: “I’m concerned that brick and mortar stores will cease to exist, as rents have raised dramatically and the newer generation of musicians buy their equipment online. There’s a lack of loyalty to service and it’s all about spending the least amount of money.”
This is not to say it was all doom and gloom – far from it, in fact. “We are excited that our 2011 sales were up almost 20 percent from 2010,” enthused Brian Winter of Salt Lake City, Utah’s Acoustic Music. “What is more exciting about our increase is that 2010 was up from 2009. At Acoustic Music we attribute this to building long lasting relationships with our customers.” Russo’s Guitar and Drum Center’s (Omaha, Neb.) Jim DeSchamp echoed the importance of customer service and building relationships, while also reinforcing that smaller operations, too, can capitalize on “non-traditional” retail avenues: “Traffic flow is very good, plus we strive for customer service up and beyond the chain stores. Our Web business is the best it has been this year and is growing fast.”
What was most refreshing and reaffirming while collecting data for this Report was hearing, over and over again, that for most (if, indeed, not all) of the independent store owners we spoke with, the underlying drive behind “doing what they do” is a true passion for music, musical instruments, and the culture of music-making. Steve Piersol of High Desert Guitars (Santa Fe, N.M.) probably said it best: “I repair and sell guitars because I love them. I have no interest in building a financial juggernaut or becoming a guitar shipper. I simply want to enjoy guitars and keep fed.”
See the full report in our December 2011 issue, or click here to read the digital edition online.