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  • I like to support small business but . . .

    Last week I stopped by the local mom and pop music store to buy strings. I walked out with a set of Martin 80/20 lights for my main acoustic, a set of Dean Markleys for my electric, and a set of DR Sunbeams to give to a friend. I looked at the receipt and, lo and behold, the Martins were the most expensive strings in the batch, $11.29 a set. Wait, what? The Sunbeams were $8.99 and the Dean Markleys were $5.99. Come on, $11+ for a set of plain old Martin strings? Not SP's, not even Marquis? No thanks. I'll go to another shop.

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  • #2

    DeepEnd wrote:

    Last week I stopped by the local mom and pop music store to buy strings. I walked out with a set of Martin 80/20 lights for my main acoustic, a set of Dean Markleys for my electric, and a set of DR Sunbeams to give to a friend. I looked at the receipt and, lo and behold, the Martins were the most expensive strings in the batch, $11.29 a set. Wait, what? The Sunbeams were $8.99 and the Dean Markleys were $5.99. Come on, $11+ for a set of plain old Martin strings? Not SP's, not even Marquis? No thanks. I'll go to another shop.


     

     

     

    I used to travel a lot and when in a strange town I would always look up the local music stores.  Most of the time I discovered the same thing you did, their mark-up was pretty high.  I must admit if they tried to help me and they looked sincere I usually walked out with some little item.  Sometimes they would sell guitar magazines and most of those sell at the same price no matter where you buy them.  The internet has really put the hurt into small brick and mortar music stores.  I find that Strings and Beyond are as cheap as any place on-line and if you order $35.00 worth or more the shipping is free.

    Don't buy a gemstone guitar pick. They're like your favorite snack; you can't stop with just one.

    Comment


    • katopp
      katopp commented
      Editing a comment
      Same here, Marin Darco Nylons come the equivalent of $13 in my local shop. Unfortunately, the only other big competitor finally folded a year and a half after the owner died. He used to run the shop for 35 years and he sold Rory Gallagher his Strat, but after he died the remaining family members must have seen that the income won't make up for the cost. Too bad that I messed the clearance sale...
      Now that "Pro Musica" is the only shop left, they can hike up the prices. "Free" shipping doesn't count here. It takes the better part of a week to ship stuff over. If you need strings NOW and not next week, you have to bite the bullet....

  • #3

    All that 'investor enthusiasm' over eCommerce in the late 1990's (which ultimately lead to a tech bubble but began with a VERY  credible basis) was in response to a prediction that was correct, but took about 15 years to fully actualize. The internet totally obsolesces all forms of general retail.

    There's literally no point whatsoever in trying to 'support' a grossly non-competitive business unless your ideals are just so strong, you're willing to light cash on fire to sustain them. The smaller music stores that remain are either owned free and clear (and can be operated with very low overhead on a ''convenience store" model in spite of uncompetative prices), or found some sort of eccentric.higher end niche (like Norms Rare Guitars)

    What remains is boutique retail (where you pay for the higher level of expertise and service) and "I have a dream..." businesses that are already dead, they just don't know it yet.

     

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    • #4

      I like keeping my business and my money local, and I will even go so far as to pay a little extra to give my business to a locally owned store. Most local businesses know that a lot of people feel that way, and try to be reasonable about prices. I have a local tech shop that charges about $7 for a set of MSP's. That's reasonable. But charging double the going rate for a freakin' set of strings is waaaay over the top.

      __________________________________________________ _________
      Proud reject from the HCAG Civil Posters Society.

      Comment


      • Stringbender11
        Stringbender11 commented
        Editing a comment

        I buy almost all my stuff online or Craigslist (used items). The internet as everyone knows has drastically changed retail, and for better or for worse that's just the way it is. Personally I think it's for the better. I use a couple of local shops which do labor on guitars for me - adjustments, set ups, repairs, etc. But the price difference on merchandise is enormous & I dont feel guilty about buying items like strings in bulk online.

        Also I totally disagree with the haggling comment on strings. I know without a doubt if I were to ask any of the shops I use if they'd discount their string prices for me they'd say 'no, that's what we charge'. I wouldnt expect them to discount them for me, either. They charge prices they've established to stay in business. And I sure wouldnt stand there and haggle over a set of strings.

         


      • Gitter
        Gitter commented
        Editing a comment

        FretFiend. wrote:

        But charging double the going rate for a freakin' set of strings is waaaay over the top.


        It is SO standard in Mom and Pops who don't realize the world we're living in.


        Depending on what I'm doing, I prefer D'Addario ECG26's which are basically impossible to find locally. The internet is my only option. Somehow my love for ECG26's came up in a random conversation at a local music shop. The next time I visited, I noticed immediately he had two sets on the 'wall of strings' by the counter. Price? $26.95 a set.

        Going internet price is $10-$15.a set depending on who's having a sale that week.


        What does this man even hope to accomplish with that sort of price?
        So he scalps some poor schmuck for 100%+ profit on an impulse purchase who then goes onto the internet, realizes how badly he got hosed and never goes back there again?


        I just don't think the 'small, independant music store' model is viable in an age of internet and GC. They're going the way of butcher shops. The'll always exist but never again like they used to.


    • #5
      I would not give 2 cents for Martin SP strings. They are the only strings I've ever tried that were so dead, I changed them within an hour of putting them on. I gave my other sets away. Just plain awful. Maybe I got a bad set. But I ain't using them again.
      He has escaped! Youtube , ​Murika , France

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      • katopp
        katopp commented
        Editing a comment
        Doesn't matter what brand or make, the issue is, that local brick and mortar stores can not compete with internet based retailers. Those retailers have a lower bottom line in regards of cost and they scale better. Brick and mortar stores have higher cost, less scaleability and higher risk.
        But, if there is the option of supporting a brick and mortar store, I will do it, simply because a brick and mortar store gives me options that I won't have in the Interwebz like trying out a handful of different instruments to pick the best of the bunch.
        My patience runs short when the brick and mortar store is way more expensive than the internet retail. I am willing to pay for the benefit of picking the one from a litter, for having a tech doing the setup, for localized service - but all with reason. If teh Interwebz is able to make a profit at - let's say

      • FretFiend.
        FretFiend. commented
        Editing a comment

        Etienne Rambert wrote:
        I would not give 2 cents for Martin SP strings. They are the only strings I've ever tried that were so dead, I changed them within an hour of putting them on. I gave my other sets away. Just plain awful. Maybe I got a bad set. But I ain't using them again.

        Interesting. I have found that SP's are the best bang for the buck out there.


      • Graeca
        Graeca commented
        Editing a comment

        Etienne Rambert wrote:
        I would not give 2 cents for Martin SP strings. They are the only strings I've ever tried that were so dead, I changed them within an hour of putting them on. I gave my other sets away. Just plain awful. Maybe I got a bad set. But I ain't using them again.

        Have had similar issues with Martin Marquis sets...coincidence, ya think?


    • #6
      My experiance with the locally owned stores has been great. Large ticket items like guitars and amps I've always been abe to get at prices equal or below internet prices. Strings and other small items might be a dollar or so higher. I know the owners personnally and I know that they will always treat me right.
      Please visit my website www.treeguitarworks.com

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      • katopp
        katopp commented
        Editing a comment
        Good for you, Stormin'
        Unfortunately, not all of us are in the same boat. Over here on my side of the pond, on a recession-beaten small rock in the North Atlantic, with too many unemployed, a severe banking crisis and a house market totally collapsed (seen a house being sold for 20% of the peak market price and no, that wasn't a firesale, that was a regular sale by an estate agent), almost all areas of local eetail have taken a hit. People do not have cash for useless luxuries like musical instruments anymore. Sales drop, costs rise ... Dropping prices to stimulate sales is not an option for a lot of the shopowners because they are in an "upwards only" rent contract that raises the rent every year automativally ... So they have to raise prices to cover the cost, which makes them sell even less. It's a downward spiral. You lay off people because you do not have enough work, but everybody does the same, in the end you have even less work because everybody's laid off and out of money.....
        Technically, they say, we're out of recession, because economy grew. By 0.04% - sounds like whistling in the woods to me. With the 2% eror margin that comes with those "preliminary figures" I would not be too amazed if in the end it's going to be recession by at least 0.5% again, once they have the exact figures.

    • #7

      There are pros and cons but unfortunately, when a con is 'profoundly higher cost', you can hang your hat on the fact that particular 'con' will be the end of that model.


      Once upon a time, when you needed shoes, you went to a cobbler. Shoemakers and shoe repair still exists as a boutique affair, but they were obsolesced in the mainstream by a more efficient model.


      Watches used to be expensive and delicate mechanical instruments. When they broke, you needed a watchmaker. Higher efficiency in production watchmaking- and then the eventual development of quartz and LCD- crushed the concept of wide-spread watchmakers. They still exist to service five figure watches, but you're paying $100+ an hour. Again, a boutique affair. 

      If all it took was 'a bit extra' to keep the local music shop in business, I'd happily pay it but it seems that they need a lot more than that, as reflected in their massively higher pricing.

      Wal Mart doesn't decimate local retailers by taking all the local business right away. They only take 30%-50% of it. The remaining 50% still shop at Old Man Joes Electronics Shop or Toms Sporting Goods out of habit and loyalty. The problem for Old Man Joe is his business usually isn't set up to take a 50% haircut, so it dies... THAT is when Wal Mart gets it all.

      Businesses trying to 'predatory retail' their way out of an inherently inefficient model are DOA the moment they open their doors. .

       

       

      Comment


      • thewthrman
        thewthrman commented
        Editing a comment

        So, I go to a dude music store rather than a mom and pop because it is close.  I will pay a little extra.  I want them to stay in businesss because they are open till 8 friday and saturday in case I need a cable or something in an emergency.  But sometimes, their prices are pretty crazy.

        It was a friend of mine's birthday and (it's the thought that counts) I decided to get hima Kaiser capo because he liked mine.  They had them at the dude store.  But it was over double what they charged at guitar center.  I mean, who is his supplier if he has to charge double retail to keep his doors open?  I think they wanted like $28 for a freaking capo.

        So, they went from being my preferred vendor to "in case of emergency" only.  There is a music go round just about the same distance, so I usually go there now.


    • #8
      It's just a matter of time now. The local shops simply can't compete in this market unless they saw the writing and made online their strategic priority 10 years ago. It's sad, but a fact of life. Spare a thought for the typewriter repairman.

      Comment


      • katopp
        katopp commented
        Editing a comment
        Typerwriter repair is not a good comparison. Typewriters are dead, so is the repair trade. But musical instruments aren't dead - yet.
        There will be a time in the not so far future where libraries for sythesizers will be better than the real thing and it will be too expensive to built a guitar, train the player for decades just to record a piece of music compared to using a MIDI score and a library, especially when you do not have to be able to play ANY instrument to program a MIDI score....
        But until then, there will be a guitar and there will be a player and as long as guitars are still made of wood, I hope that there will be brick and mortar stores.

      • Etienne Rambert
        Etienne Rambert commented
        Editing a comment
        Actually in my stateside hometown, the local stores seem to be doing well. People don't want to drive 40 miles to go to GC. And there are two local stores with more knowledgable staff, reasonably competitive pries and reasonably good selection. I think GC will fold before either one of them does. We'll see.

    • #9
      I used Martin SP strings for years and remember them sounding really good for a couple of hours, then dying really quickly after that. I tried a set a couple of years ago in a bout of nostalgia and they didn't sound as nice as I remembered and they sounded dead soon after putting them on. There's no comparison between them and DR Sunbeams in terms of sound or lifespan.

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