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Let's say YOU owned a guitar store?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Ross AriaPro, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. Ross AriaPro

    Ross AriaPro

    Dec 27, 2013
    Theres a lot of hatred or indifference to the retail business on this board...esp the big stores.

    But supposing it was all up to YOU...with a small store that sells ONLY NEW instruments and amps.

    Every day, a couple walks in shopping for their 14 year old son, who wants to play bass.

    What do you recommend...

    1. An expensive bass and amp...because the kid needs inspiration, and will be frustrated by sub-par tone and quality.

    2. A cheap bass and amp...because theres no point in better gear until the kid proves he's truly committed.

    3. An expensive bass but no amp...the kid can play it acoustically until he's good enough for amplification.

    4. Recommend that the kid get a hearing test for pitch sensitivity...because there's a minimum of inherent talent required to develop any skill.
  2. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    I suggest that he/she become a lead singer or guitarist because there's less gear to haul. :)
  3. ZenG


    Dec 13, 2013
    Near the fridge
    If it's a kid...they are prone to whims and flights of fancy.

    One day they want to be this........next week they want to be that.

    They do something for awhile ...and then when they get past the "novelty" stage...it's over.

    I would go with option 3.

    If he decides to stay with it........he can work towards getting a better rig by saving up or working etc.. This gives him a sense of purpose and commitment...rather than just having it handed to him on a silver platter.
  4. BawanaRik


    Mar 6, 2012
    New Jersey
    I would sell the music store.

    I would tell the kid kid to rent a better instrument out of my used inventory. This would be esiaer to play . If he fails he's just out the rental.

    If I was his parent I would do a bit of research and pick up a $100 used Squire off of craigs and see how he does. The money saved going to lessons.
  5. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Depends on what the parents have in mind for a budget. My recommendations won't go far if they're working with a very limited disposable income.
  6. verycoolname


    Jan 28, 2013

    I'd recommend a bass that was >$200, but <$500. Not ultra-cheap, but still within reason. Squier (and other brands) have options in this range that are of good quality (so they don't put the boy off to playing), but also won't break the bank (in case he's not committed). I'd also recommend a combo amp in the same price range.

    And, since this is my store, I'd perform a full setup and change the strings for him, so he wasn't put off by a crappy factory setup. Would also throw in a tuner, cable, and a gig bag.
  7. ZenG


    Dec 13, 2013
    Near the fridge
    As far as stores go , to me it's all about customer service and follow-up.

    You can buy a bass guitar just about anywhere.....online, used, chain store, small store, etc etc etc.

    But it comes down to service as to whether I go back there again.

    Service and Knowledge.
  8. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    Actually im going through this right now as im helping somebody out.
    Last saturday a teenager came in with his father, wanted to buy a bass and amp as he has been noodling on a first act bass they got at a garage sale in late summer. His complaint was the bass was in ratty shape and it was, bad setup and all.
    After discussing with them for a few minutes it wasnt he didnt like the bass, it was in poor playing condition.
    I took the bass while they tried out some stuff in the store and i put a set of strings of his choice on it for him and gave it a setup and handed it back. The kids eyes lit up when he played it and was as happy as can be.
    So i sold him a set of strings, setup at no cost and he ended up with a crate bt25 bass amp used that was there.
    Kid was happy as hell that his bass played much better and he had a good used cheap amp to hear himself now and discussed with them both about when he progresses and wants to move on to better gear to keep us in mind and even gave a few suggestions when that time comes.
    Kid didnt have to empty out his savings and walked out happy and hopefully i made a future sale(s) for years to come for the owner.
  9. Having done some hard time in that environment....

    I would never attempt to operate a retail store selling musical instruments that only dealt in new merchandise.

    Ignoring the used buying/selling opportunities is business suicide, IME.

    That said, the margins are better in the less expensive instruments, and if you're a small shop, that's likely what you'll be dealing in mostly anyway, due to the nature of the manufacturer/dealer sales relationships.

    Bottom line, there is very little operating margin in this type of business, making the luxury of recommending what is actually best for the kid more a matter of conscience than business.


    All the best,

  10. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I'd sell them whatever they're willing to pay for.

    THAT is the sales business, and if you gave any other answer, you really don't need to be opening a store any time soon.
  11. Rosebud


    Jan 3, 2007
    honestly what's your budget? the budget lessons are the best but I would throw caution to the wind and let my kid (lol if I had one) get some quality stuff, if I saw promise because it makes learning a little more fun in my opinion, perpetuates more learning. If I had money. I guess that's a round about way of saying what's your budget but mean it, however not being pushy.
  12. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009

    Sure, let's get neagative. We'll assume that this store is more or less specialized in that it caters to noobs and school band stuff. Naturally in this sitatuion there is no "street price". Everything is sold at list price because kids and parents don't know any better. Well, that is, unless it is being sold to public schools where it it sold at MORE than list price, maybe even double with a nice kickback of money to school officials.

    So obviously when the kid and parents come in, you try to sell them the most and best of everything, bass, amp, strap, cord, metronome, you name it. Whatever the traffic will bear. All sold at list price, natch. And to help make the sale, if the kid has a favorite band he's taken with, try to sell him the EXACT expensive gear that Joe Blow in the band plays assuring him that having Joe's exact gear will enable him to play just like Joe! And then assure the parents that the only way to keep junior's musical interest up is to sign on to the store's bass lessons where you can assure junior he will be taught everything Joe Blow knows! Which keeps the money rolling in long after the sale.

    And then when the kid loses interest later, you offer to take all the stuff back for a tiny faction of it's true used value and then ship it all to your OTHER guitar store that caters to real players and competes with internet sales and re-sell it all to real players at a competitive price which they will love.

    Does this sound negative? I assure you I am describing not one but TWO real actual music stores in my town BOTH of which are now out of business. So I guess the business model isn't as good as it sounds.

    I don't know why some people in retail are so nuts but they are. I actually know several people that ran/run small music store. The one is a great guy who runs a drum shop that keeps a great stock of things, has knowledgeable staff and prices that compete with anyone. That store just keeps getting bigger and bigger. And I also know another Dude drummer who ran a great little drum store. He would get in the most amazing bargains and wild new stuff of all kinds. He even had used bass gear he took in trade. But that darn guy! You'd buy some new thing there and absolutely love it. And then you'd go back for another and he wouldn't have any. What he had would be gone and he wouldn't order any more! His attitude was sort of like "Man, it's like already been SAID!" Used to drive me NUTS! And eventually through a host of equally bad ideas he went out of business too.

    The idea of a store is simple: Pick a market and then try your best to serve that market. Try to get cute or stupid and you'll fail.
  13. BCB50


    Dec 25, 2013
    Higden, Arkansas

    Not only did you help the boy and his dad out, but you don't know who else might have been watching, or who the boy and his dad may tell about the service they received. As several have said on different post customer service and a knowledgeable person to work with you are few and far between. Customer service is a lost art. People pushing sales that know nothing about what they are selling are a dime a dozen. The approach you used brings in future business and leaves the customers feeling good about doing business there.

    Good Job!!
  14. You are missing a whole slew of info that's needed. Is the kid buying it with his allowance money? Are mom and dad pitching in? What sort of music is the kid looking to play, what are his influences?

    I know in a hypothetical situation like this you're trying to keep it simple, but with so many options out there, it's really impossible to say. But....

    I'd recommend getting the best quality equipment they can afford. At first, spend money on the bass. Get one with decent electronics, good hardware. If the thing never tunes up right, it's hard to get excited about playing it.

    If that leaves the budget to where a $50 little practice amp is all they can afford, then I would recommend waiting, saving and getting a good amp. It's a tough sell to convince a kid and their parents to pony up for a 150 watt combo that weighs as much as the little guy, but anything smaller, IMO of course, is a waste. The tone isn't there, and it'll never be loud enough to play with other people if you go cheap on the amp.

    Having worked in a store I found it best to be honest up front with parents and tell them to expect to spend at least $500 to get a good setup. Anything less is a waste of money. Eventually they will spend the money to get better stuff, and the cheaper you go at the beginning, the sooner that will happen.

    Again, and I can't stress this enough, all of that is just IMO/IME
  15. Ross AriaPro

    Ross AriaPro

    Dec 27, 2013
    Mom and dad are willing to pony up $2400.00...*ONLY IF* its worth it in this scenario.

    In good conscience, I dont think it is.

    On the other hand, you want to stay in business.
  16. BCB50


    Dec 25, 2013
    Higden, Arkansas
    If you did option 2, inexpensive bass and amp. There is some decent stuff out there that could be had for a small amount of money. To see if a kid is interested or just going through a phase. Squier, Epiphone, Sterling all have something that can be picked up for less than 250. There are several amps out there in the 200 or less range that will do to check a kids interest. Then there is used stuff in both can can be acquired for little of nothing and turned to make an modest profit.

    If the kid isn't ponying up any funds then I would advise playable cheap because they aren't investing anything into it to make it mean anything to them. Start them cheap and if they want better, then after school jobs, yard mowing, odd jobs and they can step up from there. Then they have invested in themselves. That gives them a feeling of accomplishing something.
  17. BCB50


    Dec 25, 2013
    Higden, Arkansas
    Not much in the way of variables there. Those parents are alot nicer than I would be about things. I don't know many parents that would drop 2400 on gear for a kid who has an interest in something. I drop 2400 on gear you can be sure of one thing that gear is mine.
  18. P Town

    P Town

    Dec 7, 2011
    Don't forget to sell them the extended warranty.
  19. Ross AriaPro

    Ross AriaPro

    Dec 27, 2013
    Happens all the time with pianos...without checking to see if junior happens to be pitch-deaf.
  20. PWRL


    Sep 15, 2006
    I, too, would sell them whatever they were willing to pay for and let the philosophy of the whole situation fall into their hands. Chances are, they already know their kid well enough to be the judge of how much money they aught to be spending on the notion.