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MI Dealers are On the Case, but for Some it’s a Mixed Bag Trends in the Sales of Cases & Bags in 2018

by Christian Wissmuller • in
  • September 2018
  • Survey
• Created: August 31, 2018

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Nearly 40 percent of the participants in this month’s retailer survey (sent out to over 300 MI dealers) report level sales in 2018 when it comes to the Cases & Bags category, with roughly the same number of those we heard from saying more units were moving than at this same time last year (32.7%) as those who claimed sales were down (28.5%).

So… yeah, not a lot to report on that front. Although at least one dealer speculates that this category might represent a bigger portion of a business’ overall profits if folks made more of an effort and took chances. “Too many stores don’t ‘go for it’ when it comes to selling cases,” claims Morgan Music Service’s (Lebanon, Missouri) Tim Bascom. “Show them a $300 case or a $950 case… they just might buy it! I think a lot of people are getting tired of the cheap ‘down and dirty’ solution case-wise. If you build it they will come and remember, you’re a salesman, so sell something!”

Unsurprisingly, bags easily trump cases when it comes to what’s winding up in the hands of end-users. Of course, the comparatively lower price of bags is the main factor here, but many also noted that the quality of modern bags makes for a more reliable means of transporting and protecting instruments and gear than in years past.

One trend that was interesting to note was the number of respondents in this poll who noted that their own, privately- branded bags are selling quite well. “It’s way cool to see my logo in schools, churches, and bandstands throughout the city,” said Jerry Vesely of Vesely Music in Parowan, Utah. “You can’t buy that kind of exposure. Profit well spent.”

 

“We, of course, encourage our customers to purchase as much protection as they can afford, and carry a healthy inventory ranging from cheapo vinyl bags to a few of the more common ATA configurations, as well. While we do stock a selection of brand-name gig bags, we are extremely pleased with our budget-priced private label offered in several sizes and grade levels. We do A/B comparisons at the point of sale and offer ours at a little less margin than the national brand. It’s way cool to see my logo in schools, churches, and bandstands throughout the city. You can’t buy that kind of exposure. Profit well spent.”

Jerry Vesely

Vesely Music

Parowan, Utah

 

“Sadly, the purchase of a new case is rare with only a couple of exceptions. The saddest part is that most people – directors and parents – think that cases last forever.”

Brad Dickerson

Midwest Music

Enid, Oklahoma

 

“Customers almost always look for the lower cost advantage and portability of bags.”

Paul Lewis

Lewis Music Store

Kissimmee, Florida

 

“We have been selling a lot of ‘upper end’ cases as of late, especially by Calton and Hiscox. The Hiscox cases represent a very good value in an extremely rugged case. The Calton cases are legendary for their toughness. They cost in the neighborhood of $1,000, but when you have a $7,500 Brazilian Rosewood dreadnought guitar you can justify the cost to properly protect your fine instrument. Gig bag-wise, we’ve done a lot lately with the upper-end Gator guitar and bass bags. I even bought one of the Gator Pro Go series bass bags for myself – good bag. I can store my laptop/ iPad and plenty of other goodies in it. $149 is a lot for a non-leather bass bag but I’m a believer.”

Tim Bascom

Morgan Music Service, Inc.

Lebanon, Missouri

 

Have you been noticing any significant trends when it comes to this market segment – either on the supplier or consumer side?

“Younger customers seem to prefer bags, while older customers lean toward hard cases.”

Ronn Marriott

Long and McQuade Musical Instruments

Windsor, Ontario, Canada

 

“The more features that are added bring a greater response and more sales – i.e. pockets, more straps, et cetera.”

Roger Friend

Music Mart

Solana Beach, California

 

“More new instruments come with gig bags, which eliminates the need for one with the instrument.”

Dennis Meredith

The Bass Place

Peoria, Arizona

 

“People appreciate the pricing and protection of a 20mm foam gig bag. We cater toward a lot of beginners at our store/studio and parents never want to invest $100 on just the case.”

Karen Janiszewski

Music Room

Buffalo, New York

 

“Worst supply chain in all of my categories. There’s tremendous opportunity for a hungry manufacturer/distributor. Bag sales seem to be where it’s at these days, but margins are diminished by freight costs or poor customer service. There’s only one supplier that I can think of that has a ‘good, better, best’ model for drum bags, but the MOQ for freight rules it out. Distributors are hot to get dealers to change over, but they don’t realize that changing case lines is a very long, expensive process.”

Shane Kinney

Drum Center of Portsmouth

North Hampton, New Hampshire

 

“We have identified a trend toward the use of quality gig bags for performing musicians. We are supportive of this move and try to offer products that properly meet this need.”

Grant Baldwin

California Guitars

Belmont, California

 

“The quality of bags has improved markedly and margins are excellent.”

John Barton

Friendly River Music

Cornish, Maine

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