How to Have the Best Percussion Department in Town

Developing your percussion department into the best in town is not as daunting of a task as you may think. Obviously, it is all relative based on opinions and who else is in town and what they do. We can give you some ideas based on our experience over the years in visiting many retailers, some of which specialize in percussion only, and my experience as a drummer of 30 years and what it has been like for me to visit a store as a drummer.


Perception is Reality!

Because the majority of retailers sell guitars and the majority of salespeople in the stores are guitar players….. Let us use that as an analogy.

•  Many retail stores view percussion as an afterthought. Your customers do not.

•  If you walk into a store looking for a guitar and there are 500 band instruments, 4 guitars, and only 2 sets of strings to choose from…. What is your perception?

•  If you walk into a guitar store that carries 1 brand of guitars (mostly low end), no tuners, no picks, etc…. what is your perception?


Accessories! Accessories! Accessories!

•  In today’s retail environment it has become well known that accessories can be one of the few areas in which a retailer can make back some of that profit margin that has become a “lost art” on bigger ticket items.

•  As a guitar dealer, do you only carry 2 brands of strings in only 2 different gauges? Probably not. The drummers that come into your store want a choice of drum stick manufacturers, sizes, and tips. You don’t have to buy 1,000 pair of sticks tomorrow, but you can build it up over time. Ask some of your customers what they would like to see. The same thing works for drum heads, cymbals, hardware, etc.

•  Just like guitar accessories, these things are the “bread & milk” for drummers. They may not buy a brand new drum kit from you every month, but they need accessories on a regular basis just like guitarists.


Display the Kits!

•  Floor space is at a premium in a retail store, but if all of your kits are stacked up…. They will not move!

•  Just like guitars, a customer wants to touch, feel, and hear the product before they purchase it. Obviously, drums have no volume control and there is nothing worse than a 10 year old playing in your store for 20 minutes. However, if all of your guitars were out of reach of the customers, your sales would decline.

•  All it takes to get the kit ready to sell is a new set of drum heads and your dealer cost is minimal for that.


The Holy Grail!

•  Don’t be afraid to carry a few higher end cymbals and a higher end kit or 2.

•  That “Holy Grail” high end kit needs to be seen and wanted by your drum customers. It is the same as it is with guitars. It gives them something to aspire to or work towards purchasing in the future…. From YOU!

•  Let’s face it….. it makes your store more prominent as well.

•  A Toyota car dealership in a smaller market may not sell many Land Cruisers or Sequoias. They may sell nothing more expensive than Corollas, but they will always have one or two of those glamorous cars on display.


“World Percussion”

•  Hand drums, bongos, congas, djembes have become a huge part of the percussion market.

•  The profit margins are generally good and the cost is not bad.

•  Carry a few of these items in your department.



•  If possible, find a drummer to hire.

•  Drummers are “gear heads”. We like to talk gear with other drummers and we love to keep up with the latest trends and talk in the percussion world.

•  Your drum customers like to talk shop as well. Believe me. It is almost like a different language sometimes. LOL!


Many retailers have given up on or “don’t want to fool with” drums. It is a good market and there are many of us out there. There is a drummer in every band…… well, almost anyway.

By Chris Flatt - Formerlly of United Sales Associates, Inc.

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