20th Annual Profile of the American Music Dealer
Quoting Yogi Berra, “its Déjà vu all over again” as for the third consecutive year, MMR‘s dealer tally reveals little overall movement in the number of music dealer store fronts, showing a marginal net increase from 7,981 store fronts in 2009 to a present day count of 7,993. On a state-by-state count, 21 states registered a gain and 27 states recorded a loss of units, with three remaining the same as last year. The largest gains were in Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Michigan, Georgia, Florida, and Colorado. States experiencing the greatest unit loss were Alabama, Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio, Washington, and Rhode Island.
Our chain report (December 2009) showed a loss of 17 units; 69 chains with a total of 774 branches. This is compared to 70 chains (three or more units) with a total of 791 for the previous year. As in past years, a handful of veteran retailers closed their doors: Wisconsin’s Henri’s Music (three units); White’s Music Center (four stores in California); Indiana’s Smith Holden; Chuck Day’s Music Center (Michigan); and Omaha’s Renier Pianos (50 years). In more recent days (see pg. 6) we reported the closing of Portland’s Sheet Music Service, a 93 year old print music firm that was acquired by Texas based Penders Music in 2005. On a more positive note, the McFayden Music name re-appeared in Hope Mills, North Carolina as two former employees of the longtime chain, Joe Chambers and Al Woodruff, revived the brand. The duo also operate a Musicenter store in the state. McFayden had previously been in business for nearly 100 years and had multiple locations when it was acquired by Brook Mays Music in 2000. The stores were closed in 2006 when Brook Mays filed for bankruptcy. While specialty piano dealers had an 88 unit drop (432 units in 2009 to 344 in 2010) there was a few bright spots as the Steinway Gallery of St. Louis opened a second unit in Virginia and Hollywood Piano, a fixture in the Los Angeles market (1928) opened a second unit, a 7,000 square foot facility in Pasadena. In what may be a prototype for future growth, Daddy’s Junky Music opened a seasonal store in a shopping mall outside the Boston area. “It was pretty much a holiday store and if somebody wanted something more we directed them to a nearby full line store. As a result our traffic numbers were up so clearly some good things came of it.”
Internet sales continue to grow as dealers broaden their inventories to appeal to a cyber consumer and invest in more user friendly web-sites. Woodwind and Brasswind founder Dennis Bamber has also re-entered the Internet scene with a new online operation, Musicfactorydirect.com.
For the first time in several years every dealer product category showed an increase. While dealers continue to play it close to the vest with streamlined inventories there is some evidence that stores are stocking more accessory items with a broader appeal in an effort to increase traffic both in store and on their internet sites.