You could call it a four-stringed bright spot in an otherwise lethargic economy. But it’s no joke – the ukulele is selling, and selling well.
On a sunny fall morning 25 years ago, an up-and-coming piano sales manager in the Baldwin organization was driving to her store’s grand opening day in West Palm Beach. More excited than nervous, as she drove she scoured the horizon for that eye-catching 40-foot giant Baldwin balloon she had rented for $1,500.
In our last issue (July), MMR explored the opportunities presented – for both retailers and consumers – by replacement guitar cabinet speakers. It was noted that the tonal variations and potential for “customizing” that speakers offer are today being recognized in much the same manner which lead aftermarket pickups to first become a hot commodity back in the ‘70s. With that in mind, we decided to take the pulse of the pickup market in 2010 – what’s new, what’s popular, what’s the appeal for both MI storeowners and end-users?
“I used to think the whole ‘Mom and Pop’ set up was a bad thing,” says Gary Forkum. “But I don’t any more.” Fork’s Drum Closet is nestled in funky downtown neighborhood of Music City U.S.A. (that’s Nashville to you). On the one hand, it is made up of what has made the MI industry great: Mom and dad, bro and sis, working in (mostly) harmony. On the other hand, an early embrace of the Internet, including selling on it, coupled with an aggressive marketing and promotion and a willingness to try new things sets it apart from the cliché.
They are playing the blues, but not necessarily singing the blues. For the MI industry, the Chicago area proves a microcosm of the good, bad, and the ugly aspects of making a living peddling musical instruments these days. Many make note of the city’s rich tradition of great music. Still, the Great Recession has hit Chicago harder than most cities, and the state it resides in has the dubious distinction of facing the worst projected state budget gap for 2011.