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‘Has to be Better than Last Year’ – MI Retailers Look to Capitalize on a Return to In-Person, Classroom Schooling

Christian Wissmuller • ArchivesAugust 2021Issue ArticlesSurvey • August 14, 2021

The 2020 academic year was challenging in a number of respects (maybe you noticed?) and school music programs – and the MI dealers who serve them – felt the crunch.

While there are, unfortunately, signs that we’re all not quite in the clear and “back to normal” yet, it nonetheless seems probable that in most areas of the country, in-class learning will once again become the rule, rather than the exception. Many retailers are anticipating this shift back to more familiar territory by planning accordingly. More than half of the participants in this month’s dealer survey (51%) report that they’ll be hosting some type of “Back to School” sale or promotion – a complete 180-degree shift from last summer, when just over half (50.8%) said they had no plans to launch any initiative in advance of the fall semester.

“Lots of unknowns still, but we are thinking positively and trying to be as ‘normal’ as possible,” offers Drew Parker of Separk Music in Lewisville, North Carolina, while David Garmon of Elberton, Georgia’s Dave’s Music perhaps sums up the overall hopes for the coming school year most succinctly: “Everyone I talk to is ready to get back to business!”



Are you planning any special “Back to School” sales, events, or promotions for the upcoming school year?

Yes: 51%

No: 19.4%

Not sure yet: 29.6%



If you are holding a specific event or sale for the upcoming fall semester, it will be held…

Outdoors (parking lot, et cetera): 5.9%

In-store: 67.7%

Online: 2.9%

Outside, in-store, and virtually: 23.5%


“Summer program, two months with a discount of $50 to the first 10 students to register. We will continue to offer the family discount and grant the old price to our students registered before June 2021.”

Roberto Paz

Paz Music Academy of Kearny

Kearny, New Jersey


“Music & Arts stores hold a ‘Horns Aplenty’ event every October. We weren’t able to hold the in-store event last year due to COVID-19. This year, students and customers will be able to try out various instruments as before.”

David St. John

Music & Arts

Glendora, California


“We will do both inside and outside events in front of our store. We expect to still be doing a lot of recruiting, instrument fittings, and contract writing in August. Those sales specials will spill into those meetings, as well. Where we can’t access schools for the meetings, we will do them at the store. Lots of unknowns still, but we are thinking positively and trying to be as ‘normal’ as possible.”

Drew Parker

Separk Music

Lewisville, North Carolina


“Rent online for ‘delivery’ meetings instead of a Rental Drive.”

Stephanie Howe

Ted Brown Music Company

Tacoma, Washington



Do you have a direct, formalized relationship with school districts and band directors in your area?

Yes: 61.4%

No: 27.3%

Other: 11.4%


“We don’t work directly with school districts, but rather envelope individuals that teach within or work through institutions. So, through referrals, we handle students from many schools throughout the U.S.”

Philip Unger

Flute Center of New York

New York, New York


“We are a preferred vendor for the local school districts in our area. We have a former local high school band director on staff.”

Spidey Mulrooney

The Music Shop

Southington, Connecticut


“We service most of the schools with instrument rentals, repairs, purchases, and we have installed sound systems in most of the local schools.”

Mark Bolos

Big Apple Music

Clinton, New York



What are your overall expectations for “Back to School” sales this summer?

“Schools are spending left over cash from ’20-‘21. We expect ’21-‘22 to be strong with re-recruiting in multiple grades.”

Dave Krogan

Frank Rieman Music, Inc.

Des Moines, Iowa


“Increased from last year (pandemic).”

Ruth O’Neil

Song-a-Day Music

Coventry, Connecticut


“A great year. Everyone I talk to is ready to get back to business!”

David Garmon

Dave’s Music

Elberton, Georgia


“We are expecting them to be up (fingers crossed)”

Pat Bowles

Saied Music Company

North Little Rock, Arkansas


“I think things are slowly getting back to normal. We are planning on starting next year like a normal school year.”

Bart Breber

Breber Music Co.

Elkhorn, Wisconsin


“Hopefully much better than last year.”

Ron Shuff

Shuff’s Music

Franklin, Tennessee


“Looks better than 2020. We expect music enrollment down 20 percent [though].”

Ted Kuehnert

Jim’s Music Center

Tustin, California


“Over the summer, sales are shaping up to be a bit thinner than prior to the pandemic. We do anticipate a strong fall and holiday season, however.”

Jonathon Breen

The Music Shoppe, Inc.

Normal, Illinois


“YTD sales are record-setting, we are more concerned with keeping the supply of products flowing than discounting merchandise.”

Geoff Metts

Five Star Guitars

Beaverton, Oregon


“Has to be better than last year. Hoping we can get people excited about getting back to music.”

Richard Frankel

Musical Offerings

Derby, Kansas


“We sell pianos and along with supporting local music festivals, we have scheduled early summer visits with local school districts and colleges.”

Dave Bender

Cunningham Piano Co.

King of Prussia, Pennsylvania


“I’m hopeful for a normal to large fall rental season. Some schools are starting multiple grade levels, which should push the numbers up.”

Beth Houlihan

Kidder Music Service

Peoria, Illinois


“I think my used instrument sales/rentals will be the big sellers because of the economy.”

Shelly J. Morris

Morris Music Store & Studio

Sheridan, Wyoming


“Finally getting better.”

Mike Meyer

Meyer Music

Overland Park, Kansas

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