Is Your Store Due for a Makeover?

Remember the music store of about twenty years ago? It wouldn’t take a marketing genius to recognize that trends have changed. The “superstores” of today have molded a new generation of music stores. A newer, slicker design with more attention to the actual cosmetics of the store which causes us to have an extreme eye for detail right down to the look of the fixtures.

I was in retail for the last ten years before venturing into the wholesale realm and in those ten years alone, I’ve seen a dramatic change. It no longer is enough to have a bunch of musical instruments strewn about the store and reap the benefits of this industry. First off, I am speaking by and large here. I do realize there are a few exceptions to the rule. There are some real cool, “niche” stores that have an impeccable reputation in their area. My point here is that the buying populous is accustomed to the retail outlet have a certain “look” to it. What look is that? Well I invite you, if you haven’t already, to look at your local Circuit City, Wal-Mart, or of course Guitar Center or Sam Ash stores.

Now, smaller dealer, before you get heated up and suggest that I have no regard for the future of the “small business”, understand that we as manufacturer’s representatives, highly value your place in this industry. This article is to aid you or support the dealers who have already appropriated their store to the 90’s.

Look at these or other “superstores” and learn from them. You can benefit from their design even if you don’t have the square footage or the buying power they do. Here are some tips you can do to upgrade your store:

  • First, examine your facility. Place the merchandize you need to move in a “featured” location. Where is your counter? Is it easily accessible? Do you have plenty of display space for “impulse” items (slides, strings, cables, picks, metronomes, tuners, reeds, cork grease etc.)?
  • On the same topic, how is your layout? Are your drum accessories mixed in with your guitars? Is your guitar wall all guitars or are there other, non-related items mixed in? These may seem basic but “departmentalizing” your store is very important to customers and shows you’re on top of what is going on in your outlet. When “stuff” is any old place, it leaves the impression that the product isn’t important to you. If it doesn’t seem important to you, how can you expect it to be important to the consumer?
  • How are your fixtures? Are you still painting over that ratty old peg-board? You’ll be surprised what some nice slat-wall will do for your store. If you don’t want to invest in new slat-wall, you can easily pick up used slat-wall from businesses that closed up or re-modeled. Maybe in a future article, John Edwards, our resident sales rep/do-it-yourselfer should write an article on hanging slat-wall!
  • What about those display cabinets? Do they still have 20-year-old Ernie Ball stickers stuck all over them? Are they covered in vintage 70k’s simulated wood grain paneling? Well, maybe it’s time to replace them with new lit cases so consumers can see the products they haven’t been buying! You can obtain them just as easily as the slat-wall.
  • How about your lighting? Has anyone seen that G&L Asat on your wall? The beautiful Koa wood grain on that new Jumbo would certainly stand out better with some nice track lighting equipped with energy saving halogen bulbs on it!

These are just a few of the many ways you can upgrade your store. In the near future, I would like to tackle these issues in a more detailed manner. Remember to examine the “superstores” and profit from the millions of dollars in lessons they’ve already learned. Am I so naïve that I think the small businesses or single store operations are not going to lose some business to this new phenomenon? Absolutely not! But these days the appearance of a retail outlet leaves in impression on the consumer. Whether they are right or not to make any assumption about the way your store does business is not the point. If the store’s appearance does not meet the expectations of the consumer, not only are you not up to bat to win the sale, but more probable, you’re not even at the plate.

Contributed by the late Jim Matthews of JCBE Marketing - Greencastle, IN..

USA REPS and Tacoma Guitar Company to part ways effective September 1, 2003.

B-Band Ltd. Appoints United Sales Associates representatives for the Southeastern USA.

USA REPS is awarded The Presidents Award from Audio Techinca for outstanding commitment and dedication.

Ed and Wendel accept the Presidents Award from Philip Cajka, Audio-Technica President and C.E.O. and Kal Mullens, Director, Strategic Account Sales

USA Reps Carolina secures 11,000 square foot office and distribution center.

Josh Early appointed Systems Contractor representative for the Carolinas.

Chris Flatt appointed MI representative for Western Tennessee and Mississippi.

Ed Rider awarded Tacoma Guitar Rep of the Year.

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