I think Guitar Center is going to kill em all

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I think Guitar Center is going to kill em all

Postby 1four5 » Sun Jun 11, 2006 6:12 pm

Having recently tried getting some work done on a guitar at local small music shops was an interesting experience.

Guitar Center opened up in our city last summer. Since then at least 2 small music stores (one VERY established) have gone out of business. Dispite reading some negitive stuff about GC on the net, my experience with them has been very positive. Most of the guys working in our GC are very knowledgable gigging musicians. My main man there knows me by my full name. We got our PA there, they not only beat the internet price, but threw in $100 worth of speaker stands. I've noticed the guys who used to hang at the small shops are all hangin at GC. They have sales that no one else can touch...like 10 packs of strings for the price of one etc. The dudes call me personally letting me know when the blowouts are. They have live music there on weekends...sometimes really big parties.

Going to the smaller shops, I see empty stores hardly anyone in there. Guitars hanging on the wall with insane prices that have been there for ever. Attitude. Reading between the lines it's like "you didn't buy that here and you want us to do what?". I talked to one local salesman and he did say they were feeling the hurt from GC. He said that school band contracts were keeping them alive. One of the small shop lines that drives me crazy is "we don't have it, but we can order it"...and over the last year...every time I've heard this, I've drove across town to GC, and they've had what I needed...to the point that I'll go 10 miles straight to GC rather than 2 miles to a small shop anymore.

I don't know what the wave of the future is for the small shops. I think they are doomed unless they embrace set-ups and repairs without concern where an instrument was bought. Possibly lessons, accepting the fact that most of the instruments will come from GC or the internet. I think if I was a small shop, I'd join GC and get them to reccomend my shop for aftermarket business, rather than cuss them as the enemy...I don't know...

It will be interesting to watch over the next few years. I'm mixed on all this. I feel bad for the small shops...yet the extra couple hundered bucks I save on a big purchase at GC is hard to argue with. If the small shop wants to charge mega bucks for labor on repair work (possibly to make up for slow sales)..well, it's an excuse to learn how to do it yourself..and all the info is somewhere on the net. Interesting times indeed...
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Postby savage » Sun Jun 11, 2006 7:10 pm

I too have noticed most of the staff at the Guitar Center near me are quite helpful and experienced. Like you said, most of them are working musicians. They do got some great sales. I've been meaning to go pick up a buncha strings at their last sale. 10 sets for 12 bucks. Ona the best deals on strings in a store that I've seen so far.

There have never been many small shops around these parts, but I'd agree that in order for the smaller shops to survive theyd have to somehow try to collaborate with GC. When it comes to business it seems to be strength in numbers, and GC deffinately has the numbers over smaller shops.
Last edited by savage on Sun Jun 11, 2006 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby allanlummox » Sun Jun 11, 2006 7:11 pm

I try to spend my money at the "mom and pop" shops, and we have some excellent stores around here. I get my repairs done at 2 shops - one, John Mello, is a builder who works on my ancient Gibson, the other guy, James, works on everything else.

And James has gone out of his way to help me on prices - as I've played ball so that he CAN do that. Hence buying 50 sets of strings at once.

But it's getting tough for the little stores to compete, and beyond a certain point, it ceases to be worthwhile. It's really the Internet that's "stealing" my custom, though.

No store I've been in has the Harmonica selection that Pappy offers online, or the prices. For example.

Of course, I'm unlikely to ever buy a guitar online, although nothing is impossible.
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Postby dcblues » Sun Jun 11, 2006 7:26 pm

I'm very fortunate to have this shop nearby:

http://www.atomicmusiconline.com/

They have lots of great equipment (new and vintage). If I was a guitarist I would probably go broke shopping there.
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Postby ricochet » Sun Jun 11, 2006 7:38 pm

The local stores here are in imminent danger of closing (I'm expecting it anytime), but there hasn't been anything like a Guitar Center moving in.
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Postby grady » Sun Jun 11, 2006 7:57 pm

I have one local shop that I deal with.

He gives me great prices and excellent Customer Service.

The other local shop that closed down learned a lesson the hard way.
That lesson is,
"You can't put a 110% mark-up on everything and expect to stay in Business for very long"
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Postby guitarslim101 » Sun Jun 11, 2006 8:45 pm

The Guitar Center around here doesn't have many helpful employees. Most of them only seem interested in helping the death metal crowd.
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Postby houndog » Sun Jun 11, 2006 9:24 pm

Yip,
I'll raid the gtr supermarkets when it suits me not them , and that has only been twice in the last 7 years for guitars.

Otherwise it is hunt down the cheapest strings with the best deal per ten sets and say "yehh, how are you guys doing against the 'net " at least three times per sales dude.

Otherwise repairs and set ups has to be word of mouth.

The comparison is a quote I heard on the radio about mass chain uber markets about small versus big.

" In Britain we buy bread, cheese and wine from the supermarkets .In France they buy dogfood from the supermarkets"

adios,
Lovat
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Postby trguitar » Sun Jun 11, 2006 10:44 pm

No super stores where I live. I have to travel an hour to find a small shop. I buy a lot of stuff online but I have to be fair. The local music store in the town where my kids go to college is top notch. The prices often are competitive with the net but they are small and the selection isn't there. The survived because they do band instruments for all the schools and got into TV and stereo equipment. The music department is their roots and remains but I don't think it is their moneymaker. The guy that owns the store along with one of his origional employees have had a local band here that was spawned in the 60's and they still gig today.
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Postby ricochet » Mon Jun 12, 2006 12:44 am

Wonder how Doc's making out with his music store in Florida?
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Postby gcd revue » Mon Jun 12, 2006 1:43 am

I have had the good fortune to have experienced Atomic Music, too, DC...used to be right down the streed on Rt. 1 (back when they were in that little rental house right outside the UM campus). Bought a BUNCH of stuff from 'em. Chuck Levin's is bigger...but I wanted to actually (gasp) TOUCH stuff before I buy it. Atomic not only permitted that, but ENCOURAGED it. Chuck's was bigger, but they always treated everyone like something they'd just scraped off their shoes. Conversely, now that I'm on the other end of the country, and in a fairly rural area, I'm noticing the "mom and pop" establishments' habit of assuming they're the only game in town. And if you don't like it, tough. THAT's what's killing 'em. If they'll work with me, I'll spend a couple extra dollars at an independent business. If not, there's the competition. That's how capitalism (can I say that here?) works. And that doesn't just apply to music stores.
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Postby tim3finger » Mon Jun 12, 2006 2:43 am

Living in the same town as 1four5, the guitar center he is talking about is 2 miles from my house. Yes, I have bought stuff from them, but I also patronize a small "Mom and Pop" store dowtown about 15 miles from me. I like both stores, get along with all their people.

The difference is low overhead and decent wages for the help at guitar center, since they are a mega store vs high overhead and commission sales at the smaller store. The smaller stores are going to have to radically change their pricing and customer service policies if they hope to survive.

I will continue to shop at both places, cause they both have something to offer me, the consumer. When either store fails to do that , I won't shop there anymore.

I do my own set ups, so that isn't a player for me. Good (Fair) prices are a big player( not MSRP +++).

Death metal players at Guitar Center? Eh? What did you say?? Eh??

I have heard, at least at this GC, some pretty good blues and jazz being played by customers. They even had a Brian Setzer DVD playing on the in store tube. Gee, you can't get more tolerant than that!

Tim
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Postby guitarslim101 » Mon Jun 12, 2006 2:56 am

They've had the Setzer dvd playing here...with no sound...instead, they had the local metal radio station playing. I guess we just have a bad one here.
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Postby savage » Mon Jun 12, 2006 3:32 am

I bought my Taylor acoustic and a mic at GC. Never been trusting enough to let them touch any of my instruments though. My electrics were set up by the previous owners who I heard about via word of mouth. There are about 2 smaller shops that I've been to with good service and inventory. One is 15 miles away. The other is a local shop called Dixie Guitar Trader run by a pretty friendly guy whos got a buncha old amps that I go in there and mess with from time to time.

I prefer the one-on-one help you get from a small shop. I also love the friendly calls lettin you know when they get somethin new in. However, as mentioned, in order to survive around the bigger stores, they gotta adjust a bit. Sometimes resulting in hiking the prices up a bit.
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Postby dcblues » Mon Jun 12, 2006 4:36 am

gcd revue,

I've been going to Atomic since they first opened. I think one place they used to be was a used cd store and now it 's skateboard shop. I've bought and sold a few amps there. One of the owners told me that they wanted to offer great equipment for good prices. They wanted to be the opposite of another local guitar shop that has great stuff but is really overpriced (I won't mention it, but they're in Bethesda and the owner has a pretty bad reputation).

I bought a harp from them yesterday because I needed one for a gig. It cost probably $5 more than I would have to pay for one from Chuck Levin's (no relation to me), but they're close to home and I like supporting local businesses. If I had more time between the need for the harp and the gig I would have ordered from coast to coast but I couldn't wait for mail order.
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