35th Annual 50 Dealer/50 State Review & Forecast

by Denyce Neilson, Victoria Wasylak • in
  • December 2018
• Created: December 5, 2018

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2018 Displays Signs of Overall Growth, With a Focus on Ukes & In-Store Services

 

ALABAMA

Shoals Guitar

Muscle Shoals

Don Parker, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business?

Sales have increased by 25 percent, primarily due to our new location, but our summer was very slow.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Effects pedals have had the most growth in sales.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year”? Nash t-style guitars

 

ALASKA

Horn Doctor

Anchorage

John Kagerer, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? Overall gross sales have been up slightly, in spite of Alaska still being in somewhat of a recession due to oil prices and production.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Nothing official, but have been pleased with sales of digital pianos.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year”? We love the beautiful and artistic products coming out of Cannonball Musical Instruments. They continue to delight us and our customers.

 

ARIZONA

The Music Store

Mesa

Jon Escobedo, Co-Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? Stressful with lots of shifting and increase in my workload. Things have been shifting down. Walk-ins are down, Amazon sales are up. But I have the best job in world!

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? We’ve seen our biggest increase with Tom Anderson guitars, Mesa/Boogie amps, and online it’s been classical piano books.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? The problems are going to be the tariffs affecting prices. Payroll is also going to be an issue. Minimum wage is going up without any additional profit for more payroll. There will be a lot of work to do, and it will be harder. We will have to stay very focused.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year”? Music Nomad Ukulele Humidifiers. We need them out here in Arizona!

 

ARKANSAS

Arkansas Musicworks

Bentonville

Greg Price, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? We were up pretty much in all categories, aside from acoustic pianos. However, that was offset with an increase in digital piano sales.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? We’ve seen the most growth in ukuleles and other acoustic, fretted instruments, also boutique or smaller manufacture effects pedals.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? I expect our online business to keep growing, while I expect local retail may flatten out or decrease a bit.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Paul Reed Smith Acoustics.

 

CALIFORNIA

Harper’s Music Store

Chula Vista

Steve Gouthro, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? 2018 was about the same as 2017. Online sales have helped maintain sales.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Ukuleles, Bluetooth speaker systems, recording interfaces/MIDI controllers, and acoustic guitars have all been strong. Everything else was about the same as 2017.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? More of the same, but also increased online sales. Mom and pop brick and mortar shops need to have an online presence, even if just to draw local business into their store.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” I would say that the Turbosound iNSPIRE Series PA Systems have been a welcoming surprise to our pro audio department. They have almost replaced every other speaker in the store.

 

COLORADO

Rockley Music Center

Lakewood

Liane Rockley, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? 2018 has been slower compared to 2017. I think all the political turmoil has greatly affected consumer confidence.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Our orchestral strings department has seen the most growth in 2018.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Our half-size Stravari violin has been our product of the year.

 

CONNECTICUT

George’s Music Center

Torrington

George Donovan Jr., Co-Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? This past year was better compared to the previous. Local sales have been good over the past year.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Guitars with an equal split between acoustic and electric. There’s been a real resurgence of electric guitars over the past year, which has been great.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? I see a small increase for 2019, but with a decrease in the entry-level market, it will be tough.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” PRS guitars, by far.

 

DELAWARE

Seaford Music

Seaford

Dave Herring, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? My overall sales are up about 7 percent this year compared to 2017.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? We have seen an increase in reasonably priced acoustic guitars and a big jump in our ukulele sales this past year. The other area I notice that has been picking up entry level home recording gear. Items such as mics, interfaces, monitors, headphones, cables, stands, have done well too.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? My expectations are for continued positive growth in 2019. I feel a wave of consumer confidence now that has been lacking for a few years.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” I would call our product of the year a tie between the Boss Katana series amps and the Paul Reed Smith SE Acoustic series guitars. Both are incredible products for the money and almost sell themselves.

 

FLORIDA

Parramore Music

Ocala

Chris Davis, Manager MI Division

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? Sales had been up until the past month. Things have been slowing down lately. Overall, 2018 has been better than 2017.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Acoustic guitars and piano sales, which have always remained steady.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” All Yamaha products.

 

GEORGIA

The Music Trader

Tucker

Paul Allison, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? It was up a little, especially in the last quarter.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Guitars, particularly acoustics

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Used equipment. I wouldn’t be in business if it wasn’t for used equipment. Instrument manufactures don’t keep me in business.

 

HAWAII

Kiernan Music

Kealakekua

Brian Kiernan, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? It’s been a year of growth. We’re on the big island of Hawaii here that had impact from the volcano, so a lot of people cancelled their trips for the summer, so we took a big dip in the summertime, but overall it’s been a year of growth for us.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? We’re a stringed instrument dealer, and I think the most continued growth continues to be in the ukulele market.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? I think in 2019 we’re going to continue to see growth in the industry, as a whole. We’re a little bit reserved for predictions about brick and mortar stores like us because of the online competition that continues to be a factor. Although I think experienced players want to come in [to a store]. For first-time buyers, a lot of them are just going to go online and get their best price, but second-time and pro buyers, they want to come into the store and play the instrument.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” For guitars, Taylor guitars. For ukuleles, Kala ukuleles. We sell a lot of those – when we’re on top of it, we sell three-to-five a day.

 

IDAHO

No Limit Guitar Co. and Piano Gallery

Idaho Falls

Rulon Leman, General Manager

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? Overall it’s been great. We’ve had a few product areas that have been a little slower than others, but last year we did a major remodel and expansion of our combo/fretted department, and rebranded that portion of the company as “No Limit Guitar Co.” Aside from the new division, our pianos are, of course, the bedrock of our company, and thanks to a great local music community that part of the company continues to go strong year after year.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Acoustic string instruments have definitely seen a surge in popularity, both fretted and orchestral.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Definitely cellos. On a normal year we’ll sell a great selection of step-up and advanced violins, and then a comparatively smaller number of similar cellos. This year however, while our violin sales have remained strong, our step-up cello sales have actually outpaced violins.

 

ILLINOIS

Tobias Music

Downers Grove

Paul Tobias, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? 2017 was a very good year, but 2018 is on pace to be a record breaker.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? We have seen substantial growth in the high-end/custom guitars sales.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? Providing the economy stays healthy, we should be good. Making music can be an elixir, a stress reliever. With all the chaos in our day-to-day lives, we all need relief from stress. Making music can help with that.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” It’s a tie! Taylor V-Class braced guitars have been extremely popular, as well as Martin Custom Shop guitars. We have done well in both areas.

 

INDIANA

Indiana Music Garage

Kokomo

Kevin Jarrell, Owner

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Regardless of brand name, our low-mid priced acoustic guitar offerings have been the sales leader every month.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? We’re hoping to see a trend of growth with “in house” sales as opposed to online sales. Though our web sales have been great, we’re seeing an increase in our “face to face” sales. We feel that clients are appreciating the personal experience they receive in the store. We think that people will start gravitating back into their local stores for personal service and the hands-on experience that is inherently impossible online.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Washburn Acoustic Guitars have been a strong sales leader each month. Electronic drum-sets have also been popular.

 

IOWA

Rieman Music

Des Moines

David Krogan, Manager

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? 2018 has been positive. We had an increase of direct sales versus rentals on band/orchestra instruments this fall. Student band sales were up 15 percent, school percussion and pianos were up nicely as well. We bought better in the last 12 months increasing our GM% 3.65.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Surprisingly, pianos, although the previous year was so poor it needed to come back. Keyboards/synth were also up double-digits.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? As long as consumer confidence remains strong and tax revenues continue to flow to meet state expectations (school funding), 2019 should be good. There are some rumblings from some manufacturers worried about some trade issues with China, but so far I haven’t heard any specifics.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Amahi ukes!

 

KANSAS

Manning Music

Topeka

Sam Cooper, Store Manager

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? We saw a large growth in our number of rentals. The addition of a second store has really helped us to expand our market.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? We saw a surge in sales of our Yamaha keyboards. Customers really love them and they make for a fairly easy sale.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” The product that has seemed to resonate most with customers at our store has been the Ibanez AW54OPN Mahogany Guitar. Customers seem to totally fall in love with the looks and performance of the instruments.

 

KENTUCKY

Owensboro Music

Owensboro

Gordon “Gordy” Wilcher, Founder and CEO

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? The past year was very challenging unpredictable to say least. The second and third quarter were very flat. Our walk-in traffic has declined heavily. I’m suggesting the combination of ever-increasing online sales and extreme caution by buyers perhaps influenced by ever-increasing uncertainty of financial situations drove this downturn. As an Independent retailer in a small market (city 55K-area-120k) it was the toughest in a couple decades.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Our area (Western Kentucky/Southern Indiana) is extremely traditional so the uke growth is somewhat surprising, but welcomed. I must mention the Vintage Brand guitar line as well – leader of our “resurgent” electric guitar offerings. In addition, we see an ever-growing instrument repair/setup/restoration trend.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Looking back and picking a product of year is a bit of a challenge. Of course accessories – Snark, Kirlin, et cetera are always best-sellers. The BOSS Katana 50-watt combo has been hugely popular and gets my nod for this category.

 

LOUISIANA

Lafargue Pianos

Metairie

Lance Lafargue, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business?

Our sales have been better than last year, but not huge, with an increase in sales and overall profit margin.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? We have seen the most overall growth in the player-piano category. Sales of both PianoDisc and Yamaha Disklavier have doubled. Sales in the used piano category has also been very strong.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” With a wide array of pianos here, our sales are pretty evenly spread between acoustic, hybrid, digital, “silent,” and player pianos. If we had to name one possible stand-out, it would be the Yamaha CSP Clavinova because of its unique and powerful capabilities.

 

MAINE

Buckdancer’s Choice

Portland

Tim Emery, Vice President

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? Gross sales are up about five percent.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Ukuleles, analog synths, modular Eurorack, and pedals are all up. Acoustic guitars remain strong, electric guitars have shown small gains.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? I am hoping for slow, steady growth in most areas. My expectation, however, is that the entry level market will continue to shrink because greedy, lazy vendors will let the Amazons and other Internet outlets destroy the experience for the first-time buyer, who is just as likely to send their product back if they have an issue with it rather than seek the guidance of their local music store, who, if they had bought it there in the first place, would be able to support and guide the customer through their issues. That would actually grow the market and result in more lifelong customers for everyone.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Tough call, but I’d probably have to go with ukuleles in general, and Kala ukuleles, specifically.

 

MARYLAND

Island Music Company

La Plata

Keith Grasso, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? We are up in most categories this year. We expect this holiday season to be much stronger than last year.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Our pro audio department has seen the most growth this year. We have been a little more focused on the install market than in the past. Acoustic guitar sales have continued to grow. The major focus from customers has been the $1,200- $2,500 price range.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” The product of the year for us has been the BOSS Katana Series amps and the Line 6 Helix family of products.

 

MASSACHUSETTS

E.L. Music

Worcester

Matt Robbins, CEO and Founder

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? 2018 started off very strong. We have seen growth every year for the last four years, but the summer of 2018 has been the most challenging to date for retail for us.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? We had the most growth in the acoustic guitar category in 2018.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? That’s a tough question to answer. I have little expectations on the way manufacturers will do business in 2019. It seems that the guitar industry as a whole sees their category shrinking. So far, their answer has been to lean on big-box stores or to raise the yearly buy-in on the smaller independents to keep their numbers.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Our product of the year was definitely Breedlove acoustic guitars. We did four times the retail numbers with them.

 

MICHIGAN

Marshall Music

Troy

Tim Fischer, Store Manager

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? 2018 was another strong year for us. Partnering with more than 700 music educators across the state, our band and orchestra department is in good shape to see continued growth moving forward into 2019.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Band and Orchestra serial sales have seen the largest growth this year.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Snark ST-8 clip-on tuners! We cannot seem to keep these in stock. Guitarists and band and orchestra students alike seem to gobble these up as soon as we get them in.

 

MINNESOTA

Bongo’s & Bud’s Music Center

Hopkins

Bongo John Haga, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? 2017 was good and as 2018 continues steady growth over previous years. The store is focused on the community beginners and servicing professionals needs.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Mid-level acoustic guitar buyers are getting into guitar and taking lessons from an instructor or online. When the online experience gets frustrating they look to an instructor

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? “Made in the USA” will be the slogan – and prices will go up. The market will remain solid on used instruments, while the imported goods price increases will affect some brands.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Amahi ukuleles and small goods.

 

MISSISSIPPI

Backstage Music

Starkville

Allen McBroom, Co-Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? We’ve had outside factors impact us – environmental factors like the state department of transportation decided to remove the left-turn lane from the highway for our business. They put up concrete barriers, so now nobody can turn left into our business. [Customers] have to go past our business, then make a U-turn in the middle of an intersection to come back to our business. This is a 2.5 mile stretch of highway that they did this to, and all the business on this stretch of highway is down. I would say, if it were not for that, we would be flat or up.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Acoustic guitars and microphones.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? Continued growth across the entire industry. I see a resurgence of brick and mortar retail. I think more and more brick and mortar stores are adapting to the internet world and are strengthening aspects of their business that they do the best.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Snark tuners, which is old hat. They’ve been around a long time now, but that is something we have to restock constantly. There’s an insatiable hunger for Snark tuners I cannot explain.

 

MISSOURI

Fazio’s Music

Ellisville

Dan Kuse, Manager

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? While our retail side has seen some declines this year, our service sectors have gained dramatically. We’ve had an increase in profitability, but also have seen big increases in operating costs.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Electric guitar amplifiers have posted super gains so far this year, along with guitar effects, still showing growth after a robust 2017.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? I anticipate continued growth in service industries, such as rentals, repairs, and lessons. Traditional retail traffic is being eroded by internet sales, and that will certainly continue. I do see potential in growth in specialty retail stores.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Vintage Brand electric guitars. Good quality, good story, great company to do business with. They’ve made some nice improvements to their line over the past year, our customer like them, good margins, and they are one to watch.

 

MONTANA

Rod’s Music and Sounds

Great Falls

Gary Atwell, Sales Manager

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? I would say it’s about equal as far the amounts of revenue we’ve done. Maybe we’re down just a little bit, but our market is quite unique. We’re in a small, isolated pocket in the middle of Montana, it really is a unique market. So I would say, as opposed to the national trend, our numbers were probably down just a little bit.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? I would say the acoustic guitar market has been our strongest market. I would say it was probably up a little bit over the prior year, but I don’t think it’s been [record-]breaking numbers by any means.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” There’s no doubt that I am a huge fan of the Yamaha FG800 guitar. I think, for the money, that’s one of the best guitars you can purchase.

 

NEBRASKA

Ron’s Music

Grand Island

Janiece Jones, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? We are up over 10 percent compared to this time last year.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Sound reinforcement (PA equipment) has had an increase for us in 2018.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? I expect things to become even more challenging for the mom and pop stores with the tariff issue causing price increases from many vendors, and many of the vendors not being able to fill orders when placed. Backorders and the length of time taken to get items from backorder has been somewhat of an issue for us this year.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Peavey’s Dark Matter speaker enclosures

 

NEVADA

Dixon Brothers Music

Las Vegas

Eric Dixon, Owner

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Step-up instruments. I don’t know what the jump was from 2017 to 2018, but we’ve seen a lot of growth in those models.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? I think it’s going to stay pretty competitive with Amazon, [but] I think it’ll stay steady, I don’t see any major changes at all.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Our rental instruments and also the Pisani models [of violins and violas].

 

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Northern Lights Music

Littleton

Dan Salomon, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? 2017 was a good year and we are up a little bit in 2018.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Electric guitars and amplifiers have really picked up again.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? I expect to see the highest quality brands thrive and improve while the lower end brands really duke it out.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” The Carr Mercury V amplifier and Carr amps in general.

 

NEW JERSEY

Metropolis Music

Jersey City

Mark Dalzell, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? Our retail sales continue to sort of slip against Internet sales, but we’ve been doing a lot of lessons. Lessons have been really strong for us, and we’ve been focusing more on services that can’t be offered online

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Ukuleles. The last five or six years, we sell more ukuleles than guitars – it’s huge. I have six ukulele teachers.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? I can’t see any new exciting trends on the near horizon. Small brick and mortar-only stores like us will have to focus more on local services and move away from actual serialized item/instrument sales.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Specifically, Kala Ukuleles are our main line, and even more specifically, the KA-C and KA-CG models. We turn more of those over than anything.

 

NEW MEXICO

The Candyman Strings & Things

Santa Fe

Rand E. Cook, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business?

Fantastic – sales are definitely up. We’re tracking somewhere in the 10 to 11 percent range over last year, and last year was equal to our best year in the last several years, so we’re tracking up.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? The acoustic guitar category. We’ve had a great sell-through on a higher end. We’re a Taylor dealer and a Martin dealer, and both lines have been very strong for us this year, particularly Taylor.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” The entire line of Tecate, which is Taylor’s imported line of 100 series and 200 series guitars and Yamaha’s Pro Audio gear – specifically their DBR/DXR power cabinets have been insane this year.

 

NEW YORK

Rudy’s Music

Scarsdale and Soho

Rudy Pensa, Owner, and Fran Pensa, Vice President

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? Business increased exponentially at Rudy’s Music in 2018 from the year before.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? We did exceptionally well with acoustic guitars – vintage, previously owned, and new. We also did very well with vintage and previously owned electric guitars and basses.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” We would have to say that Martin Guitars has been our product of 2018 along with Pensa Guitars.

 

NORTH CAROLINA

Casino Guitars

Southern Pines

Baxter Clement, Founder

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? Sales have increased across the board. Our in-store sales have risen by close to 20 percent, but the real growth has been in our online sales. Those have increased over 400 percent.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Entry-level acoustic ($1,000 and below) have seen a large growth. And with the holiday season right upon us we hope to see this continue at an even higher pace.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? We are always excited to see what the big acoustic makers come up with each year to keep the industry fresh (Martin and Taylor). But, that being said, we are very excited this year to see if Fender can find a way to claw itself into that number-three spot and dethrone Yamaha somehow in the acoustic market. With Fender we’ve, of course, thrilled to see what their Custom Shop comes up with!

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” The PRS Silver Sky has been the most talked-about and the easiest sell-through throughout the year. We put in a pretty substantial order on them pre-release and we were shocked at how they were all pre-sold or sold within a few weeks, if not upon arrival.

 

NORTH DAKOTA

Guitar Lot

Mandan

Chris McCroy, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business?

I moved the business to a different location, so it’s better in that sense. I’ve expanded.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Guitars. I’m not selling violins! I deal with used guitars, so my inventory is [always] changing. I think it adds a lot of uniqueness to my business in that sense.

 

OHIO

McCutcheon Music

Centerville

Christopher Ward, Asst. Sales Manager

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? This year has been good. We have introduced new accessory products that have increased our overall ticket. We have strengthened our relationships with local schools and universities, and that has resulted in increased sales of products we have already carried.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Three categories have seen the most increase: woodwind and brass accessories; ukuleles; and small percussion. Of note would be the Amahi UK120 Soprano Uke as well as the Amahi Soprano Peanut UK150 Uke.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Ukuleles are once again our product of the year. It appears to be an instrument that has acquired actual staying power, and collectors and those with Instrument Acquisition Syndrome can purchase more instruments without breaking the bank.

 

OKLAHOMA

Barnett Music Exchange

Tulsa

Ceth Barnett, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? 2018 is our second year in business and we have seen huge growth during year-two. We are up across the board by 45 percent in sales. We have also opened a full-service band repair shop this year. It’s been exciting to see that side of our business really pick up.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Pro instrument sales have been very good for us in 2018, whether it be a professional trombone, or pro-level electric guitar. This growth has been exciting.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Suhr guitars. Whether it’s guitars, pickups, or amps, all have been good sellers for us in 2018.

 

OREGON

Willamette Valley Music Co.

Salem

Eli Kem, Co-Founder

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? We have been busier through the main three income streams in the store – rental band/orchestra, repairs, and sales.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? For us, step-up band and orchestra instrument sales have increased over the last year due to greater numbers of rental customers coming in for more accessories and better instruments.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Yamaha Xeno Trombones and Buffet’s new Prodige Oboe have been a consistent turn as an individual big-ticket item. Best in serialized unit sales is the P115/P125 digital piano. In terms of volume and unit profitability, ukuleles are an awesome sub-category.

 

PENNSYLVANIA

DiPinto Guitars

Philadelphia

Chris and Sophy DiPinto, Owners

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? It has been about the same.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? We’ve been carrying more boutique pedals and they are selling quite a bit, and ukuleles are still strong. Still, our bread and butter is our own brand of DiPinto Guitars, and used and vintage gear – all restored to its former glory or better.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Every year our DiPinto Galaxie Guitar sells out. As far as accessories go, the same items perform the best year after year – D’Addario strings, Snark tuners, and 1 SPOT power supplies.

 

RHODE ISLAND

The Music Complex

Pawtucket and Smithfield

Rudy D’Agostino, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? This year the retail is up at least 15 percent.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Electric guitars. They were dead for a while, but electric guitars have definitely had a re-spike.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? Unfortunately, my expectations are that more and more people are going to be going online. We’re one of those operations where we do keep a core set of people who will always come to us, but I think that’s going to be less, or so it seems anyways.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Our Fender sales on everything, from the guitars to amplifiers, are doing much better.

 

SOUTH CAROLINA

Pecknel Music

Greenville, Moncks Corner, Columbia

James McNeely, Store Manager

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? 2018 has definitely been more of everything – more traffic, more variety of customers and requests. Everything about 2018 has been more than 2017.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? We continue to see more rentals, and I continue year-after-year to be surprised how large the category of ukuleles is.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Yamaha saxophones.

 

SOUTH DAKOTA

Lindner’s Music

Watertown

Rod Lindner, Co-Founder

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? 2018 has been just about identical in overall sales to 2017.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? 2018 had a big drop in electric guitar sales, and a small increase in ukes and acoustic instruments. Our band instrument repair area picked up, because of the increase in people buying and selling used band instruments on social media sites. Although our band instrument rentals were slightly down, our repair area was up. We also had an increase in music lessons.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? With the new import tariffs on China, there will be some small increases in some music items. We all have to pay the price that will, and has, brought back jobs to the U.S. The government will hopefully use the money to help diminish our national debt. I do not expect that we will have sales increases because of online buyers, and the major guitar companies taking dealerships away from smaller town, family owned, music stores, and using the internet to direct sales to their own invested interests.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?”

Our most popular instruments have been ukes and acoustic guitars. Our guitar lessons have been very busy, also.

 

TENNESSEE

Amro Music

Memphis

Pat J. Averwater, President

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? We’ve experienced consistent and moderate growth for a number of years. Even though we’re a fourth-generation, 97-year-old company, our recently ended fiscal year was the highest in history. We expect to exceed that this year.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? We’re primarily focused on school band and orchestra, and acoustic pianos. Both market segments are stable, however any hard-fought company growth usually comes at the expense of competitors.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?”

Steinway Spirio.

 

TEXAS

Austin Guitar House

Austin

Brent Tenczar, Manager

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? We’ve definitely had an increase. For our store, it’s been an average increase – about a 20 percent uptick this year.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Honestly, it would probably be the used market.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?”

By far, anything Suhr-related.

 

UTAH

Music Village

Riverdake

Heath Gilbert, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? We have had a great 2018 with a huge increase in top-line revenue. All sections of our business grew in 2018 including brick and mortar sales, online sales, lessons, and repairs.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? For us the acoustic guitar and recording/pro audio departments saw the biggest growth, both in percentage and overall dollars.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? We have a feeling that the product availability issues that many of our suppliers experienced in 2018 will continue or worsen in 2019. The inventory and delivery issues that affected some suppliers are completely unworkable in today’s marketplace.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?”

Our product of the year would have to be the entire Breedlove guitar line.

 

VERMONT

Be Music

Rutland

Brian Hobbs, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? We’re down a little bit.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Obviously, the ukuleles are still going pretty strong. All of the instruments have stayed pretty consistent over the past few years. Guitars have always been our main-selling instrument.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? I don’t know quite what

to expect. The biggest thing is competition now with Walmart and Amazon and big stores like Sweetwater doing free financing, it’s hard to compete with that. I don’t think it’s going to get any better ever again. I expect it to keep slowly going the way it’s been going. It’s been dropping a little bit every year since 2008.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Definitely ukuleles have sold the most units.

 

VIRGINIA

Shamrock Music

Shoppe

Purcellville

Scott Kinney, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? This has been and transition and growth year for us. We added several new manufacturers, including Fender and Squire, and increased our commitments with PRS, as well. Our lesson programs continue to grow as well.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Ukuleles tend to be the hottest sellers, partly because they’re so inexpensive and portable. We’ve seen growth in guitars and digital pianos. Digital drums stay steady. But with ukuleles, we see more people coming in and buying their second or third ones.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” In the summers, we do our “Shamrock camps.” Essentially, we take a rather large group of students on Monday, and by Friday, they are performing a legitimate concert, with tickets printed and a tailgate party for the parents. I’m going to say that’s our product of the year because that pulls together everything we do, from the private lessons to the instruments our young customers select that’s going to help them channel their inner rock star.

 

WASHINGTON

Thunder Road Guitars

Seattle

Frank Gross, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? 2017 was a great year for us as we opened our second brick and mortar location in Portland, Oregon and saw steady growth in sales over 2016. 2018 is shaping up to be even better with gross sales up over last year and both locations firing on all cylinders.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? This year we have seen a decent growth in our acoustic instrument sales. In the world of new inventory which we do very little of we saw a spike in Electro-Harmonix products, specifically the reissue Big Muff pedals they have been releasing.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? My biggest hope for 2019 is that US Fish & Wildlife/CITES pulls the reigns back on CITES restrictions regarding shipping instruments containing rosewood internationally. In 2017, regulations came down essentially making it incredibly difficult and time consuming to legally ship rosewood instruments internationally, almost overnight leaving an entire industry wondering how, when, what, where, et cetera to follow the steps to do this all legally. We do roughly 60 percent of our business online and out of that a good amount is international sales. My hope is they either remove the restrictions all together or at least come up with a much more streamlined process for filing the paperwork to ship.

 

WEST VIRGINIA

Showtime Music

Mount Hope and Bridgeport

Harry Gillum, President

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? Showtime Music has demonstrated a steady growth for the past 27 years, and while growth this year is almost flat (increase of 1.2 percent) I am happy to report another increase.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? We have several categories that are worthy of double digit growth mentions. Digital Pianos and keyboards lead the pack, followed by Acoustic Guitars, then Electric Guitars, and PA, Accessories continue to grow as well, if well stocked.

What are your expectations for the MI industry in 2019? I expect 2019 to stay strong until late third quarter or early fourth quarter of 2019. With pressure mounting from our suppliers to have more ecommerce presence, all brick and mortar stores will feel the impact. The MI industry will show growth in 2019, however most of that growth will be executed through big-box and mail order. Brick and mortar stores need to capitalize on what we can offer that mail order cannot offer – lessons, instore service programs, special services like sound installation and design, and a hands-on approach to meet the needs of our ever-changing consumer.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Digital pianos and acoustic stringed instruments run neck-and-neck. And let’s not forget the everlasting Eddy Finn Ukulele. Yamaha for digital pianos and keyboards, While Taylor, Epiphone, Fender, and Yamaha have been the leaders. Model-specific for keyboards would be the Yamaha CLP 635, model-specific for acoustic guitars would be the Yamaha TransAcoustic FG-TA and the LL-TA.

 

WISCONSIN

Brass Bell Music

Milwaukee

Tristann Rieck, Owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? We have had some notable shifts in product categories with some being down and some being up. Overall though, 2018 has been a down year for our business as we continue to transition more to hired teachers some of those renting space have decided to move on. With the nature of the teacher-student relationship, many students followed to a new studio. So, while other areas were trending upward, this caused a disruption in regular store traffic and sales.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? We have two unique areas of growth. We recently invested in a store re-arrange so that we could highlight our Step Up Orchestra String Inventory, this has brought a lot of credibility to our rental program for higher end instruments. The other area has been in our choral publications.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” That would be the Snark Tuners. Customers ask for them by name.

 

WYOMING

Wyoming Music

Casper

Dean Lorimer, owner

How has 2018 compared to 2017 for your business? Our sales are down.

What product category/instrument has seen the most sales growth in the past year? Instrument repair.

In the past calendar year, what has been your store’s “product of the year?” Print music.

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