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..