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Canadian Retailers Could Learn A Lesson From Sweetwater :-\

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by HubbardsFate, Apr 1, 2015.

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  1. HubbardsFate


    Oct 18, 2006
    Not sure if this is the right forum to post this little rant in, but here goes (mods, feel free to move it if necessary...)

    I live in a city of about 80, 000 people in central British Columbia. There are two "mom n' pop" brick n' mortar music stores as well as a branch of one of the big nationwide retailers (Long & McQuade.) As far as I can tell, neither of the two independent shops have an Internet presence beyond infrequently-updated Facebook pages. Long & McQuade does have a full-on website, but it is not really specific in any way to this city, nor any of the cities they are located in. It is just a "general" website that shows the makes and models they carry, contact info, etc.

    I know, I know - first world problems, right? Here's the thing: whether we (or they) like it or not, convenience and comparison shopping are king in this day and age. Hey, I'm more than happy to support local businesses if, one, they are carrying products I am interested in, and two, they are selling at reasonable and comparable prices (I'll take that second point a little further and say I might even pay a little more in order to keep the dollars in this town - on the other hand, if I see a crazy deal on another retailer's website, American or Canadian, well, sorry...)

    I know that the "mom n' pops" of the world are not likely able to afford a slick website like, for example, that of Sweetwater. But if all they can/are willing to do is have a Facebook page, at the very least update it on, I dunno, a weekly basis, if not daily? Because not only do I not want to be dropping in once or twice a week, as far as I can tell, the employees/owners of these places don't want that either, at least according to the "stinkeye" I seem to always get at at least one of these places (and no, I'm not a guy who walks in, spends three hours noodling around, and walks out without buying anything...)

    I have never ordered a bass or any other gear from Sweetwater, but it certainly is feasible that I will at some point. And one of the reasons for that is because of one specific feature of their site: photographs of the actual items (as opposed to stock photos) that they have for sale. Very well-done photos of, for example, basses, that can be looked at from multiple angles, and if they have more than one of the same model, you can compare them side by side. Again: the mom n' pops probably can't afford something like this, but I have a hard time believing that Long & McQuade and a couple of other larger retailers up here couldn't have something designed that at least approaches Sweetwater's quality.

    /rant :rage::thumbsdown::D
    VWbug likes this.
  2. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    I agree with you about these issues, big time with the facebook pages!
    But Long&Mcquade's site although not as slick as other US retailers is pretty good in my opinion.
    Plenty of info and pics and they actually will tell you what stores have stuff in stock and what needs to be ordered online.
    But i understand your pain.
    Being as i live in a town of about 11,000 myself.
    blindrabbit likes this.
  3. HubbardsFate


    Oct 18, 2006
    I consider Long & McQuade's site the "best of a bad bunch"; it's not terrible, but it could be better.

    Whereabouts do you live?
  4. Roland GR 88

    Roland GR 88

    Sep 16, 2013
    Don't hold your breath. The stock hanging on a retail wall can't be controlled in any way like stock on a warehouse shelf. A guitar at L&M is likely to be played, looked over and put back while your new one gets ordered. Or, more likely, played, looked over, generally gunked up and then put back while you buy 3 picks. Or, you call, make plans to come down and it sells before you get there or it's put into rentals.
    L&M's master plan is to get you IN THE STORE. Telling you all the details or having it all on-line will not get you in the store. Years ago I was their first customer service phone rep. at the main location and my job was to provide information, help and advice. But, I was really there to get you IN THE STORE.
  5. Kmrumedy


    May 12, 2004
    Montreal, Canada
    Are you also ready to lose $.27 on the dollar now? The strong US dollar has all but stopped my purchases from the US retailers.
  6. HubbardsFate


    Oct 18, 2006
    That's a good point. Between the exchange rate, shipping, and import charges, it would have to be a pretty sweet sale. But here's an example of where it would have worked: Just a few days ago, Sweetwater was blowing out their remaining stock of Ibanez Grooveline basses at 54% off. Even if you factored in the exchange, shipping, and import fees, chances are you would have paid less ordering one of those basses from them than you'd pay at a Canadian retailer, assuming you could even FIND one at a Canadian shop.
  7. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    Just came to the states for a couple weeks, the exchange was brutal.
    Root 5 and mistergoats like this.
  8. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    Im in Southern Ontario.
  9. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    I would only buy a bass online as a last resort--which would include if I lived nowhere near a music store.

    Please do not try them out in person and then order them online.
    buldog5151bass likes this.
  10. HubbardsFate


    Oct 18, 2006
    I actually wouldn't do that. What I would do, though, is some comparison shopping...again, I'll use the example of those Ibanez Groovelines that Sweetwater was recently blowing out at 54% off. If that was a model that I was really interested in and one of the local shops had it in stock I'd go to them and say "I am really interested in that bass, and I am interested in supporting you as a local business. But there is an American online retailer selling this bass at a 54% discount. Factoring in the exchange rate, shipping, import fees/taxes, this is what it will cost me to buy from them. I'm not necessarily asking you to meet that price to the dollar, because there is something to be said for being able to strap a bass on and try it out before buying. So before I even think about taking that bass off the wall and trying it out, maybe we can talk a bit about price. Because if the price gap is big enough, no offense, but I will take my chances ordering online. If, however, you are willing to at least get into the neighbourhood of where these guys are at, and I really like the bass, then I am not only willing but would prefer to buy from you."

    It is actually very rare for me to go into one of the local shops and take anything off the wall. It has to be something that I would definitely consider buying. Example: The local Long & McQuade had a 6-string Ibanez BTB Premium (with the Nordstrand Big Singles) in stock last summer. I guess they had ordered it in for some guy who then decided he didn't want it. I had previously owned a mid-2000s bolt-on BTB 6-string and really liked it, and I was (and still am) wanting to get back into 6-string bass, so I took this thing down and played it for about five minutes and realized it wasn't for me; the neck/fingerboard wasn't nearly as comfortable as my old bolt-on model had been. But yeah, I'm not one of these guys who goes and spends three hours on a Saturday messing around on every bass they have in the place...I can see how the brick n' mortar shops get annoyed with people like that. I won't even plug a bass into an amp until I have determined that it works for me comfort and playability-wise. If it doesn't work for me on that level then it doesn't matter how great it sounds through an amp.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2015
  11. jamro217

    jamro217 Supporting Member

    Does this mean it's time for Americans to raid Canadian shops for bargains?
  12. Roland GR 88

    Roland GR 88

    Sep 16, 2013
    Sorry, it doesn't work that way. :meh:
  13. jamro217

    jamro217 Supporting Member

    Just kidding.
  14. L&M is basically a front for Yorkville Sound. I'll explain...
    Years ago, I worked at Sam the Record Man, downtown Toronto. Sam's was supplied product by a company called Roblins(SP). Sam also owned Roblans. I'm pretty sure that Sam couldn't have cared less, if the flag ship store lost money, cause Roblins made money, selling product to the Sam's stores. Take a loss at the retail side and make a profit selling product through the warehouse company.
    I believe that L&M work on a similar business model. The goal is to keep the Yorkville factory humming with product. Need more cash flow, drop the prices of Yorkie products, sell a ton and fire up the factory!
    Non Yorkie products are a necessary evil, to get consumers into the store.
    Starflyer59 and mistergoats like this.
  15. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    I like how they blame the canadian dollar falling against the US dollar for why traynor jacking up their prices when everything about their amps are made, built, and assembled in canada.
    HawldieMPB likes this.
  16. Roland GR 88

    Roland GR 88

    Sep 16, 2013
    They still have to import most of the components and even the plywood prices goes up when it becomes more lucrative for the manufacturer to ship it south.
  17. Skokiaan


    Jun 19, 2004
    New Jersey
    There may be some very good reasons why a mom-and-pop shop does not have a website, or does not update the one it has (or Facebook) as frequently as one would like.

    1. Time
    My good friend owns a local guitar shop. His inventory is large for such a small store (about 500-600 instruments - 50/50 guitars and basses). The thing is it's a one man operation. He does all the ordering, most of the selling (he has some part-time help), all of the trading, all of the shipping, all the repairs and setups when the shop is closed, schedules all the student lessons, pays all the bills. He often works seven days a week, but the store is only open four.

    2. Lack of technical knowhow
    The internet did not begin to become popular until he was in his forties, so he's not very tech savvy. He hires me once a month to photograph newly arrived inventory and upload it to his website (which I created). He only knows basically how to delete instruments off the site when they are sold and how to update some text.

    3. Cost
    Why doesn't he hire me more often than once a month? Because it's not cost effective for him to do so. I'm not even a web pro. I do it more or less as a favor for a friend. To have a site professionally created and run costs serious money. Small shops sometimes have days when nobody buys anything. That means he made no money that day, or even lost money if he has staff to pay or buys more instruments than he sells. But the lights have to stay on.

    Regarding Facebook, I handle that, too, but mainly use it to point people to the website or to call the store. It doesn't work well for showing current inventory, just some select new arrivals. The website, too, is mainly a tool to get people to call (or visit) the store. You can't buy anything through the site. He prefers face-to-face transactions and phone calls.
    blindrabbit likes this.
  18. mistergoats


    Jun 24, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    I recently sold a bunch of pedals on Reverb, not really considering the exchange, and made my money back on a bunch of them. If you have any gear you're not using, now;s the time to sell it in American dollars. That said, it also cost $17 to ship a pedal with tracking to the US (thanks Canada Port).
    blindrabbit likes this.
  19. I still do a lot of buying and selling across the border (and across the ocean for that matter). Good deals remain to be had, they may just be a little tougher to find. The biggest issue is the shipping - to me, its a more significant "problem" than the exchange rate. If I could find a way to save on shipping, I'd be golden.

    As for buying online, I think I'd have to go 5-6 or more basses back before the last time I tried one in person before buying it. Trying in person is overrated, IMO, especially when buying in the classifieds here. A good discussion with the seller and good pictures go a long way in helping make a decision. I can't say I've been disappointed yet.
  20. flyswatter


    Mar 19, 2015
    Quebec, Canada
    I moved to Quebec for work a few years ago, where the Archambault chain offers an experience very like Sam Ash/ Long & McQuade (which we also have BTW) both in store and online. The stores are well-stocked (depending on size but even the smaller outlets have a decent stock of standard models) and staffed by actual musicians (two of the guys in my local are also jobbers on the local scene) who know what they're talking about. The stock is well-managed and once something sits for a year or more it gets deep discounted -- I just picked up a new 2012 MIM P-Bass at 30% off the ticket price. Between Archambault and a number of decent mom & pop outlets that do smaller business in my area, I'm pretty happy overall and find little need to shop online for my gear. Of course there are other disadvantages to living in Quebec, but gear outlets isn't one of them.

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