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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey everybody,

Though I'm still in high school, I have though of many career options thereafter, but most I have become uninterested within a few weeks. The few I was seriously considering (Pilot, Guitarmaker/Luthier) also seem to have lost all interest for me.

The only other thing I think I'd like to do would be starting my own business. I havn't really planned much out at all, other than some thoughts in my head.

The ideas consisted of me, an unknown location, and a guitar/bass specialized shop. We would sell all types of intermediate-high quality guitars and amps, guitar/bass accessories, books, and magazines. This store would also be doing repairs and maybe even eventually I could move into one of my other fallen-through career choices in Guitar Making. We could have our own store brand and they'd be completely hand-crafted in our shop.

The main problem I have is finding the correct location. I know for a fact that I would NOT open this store where I currently reside. The music scene is weak and most people around here cannot justify spending $2000 even if its on a VERY nice guitar. Everyone looking for a bargain and only that. I would like a store in a locale with a growing community and a growing music scene aswell. (Sorry to all who reside in Thunder Bay, I'm not intentionally trying to bash it, but I've lived here all my life)

I am sort of lucky in that I could have the details of the business sorted out quite easily. My mom opened her own very successful Toy Store downtown here about 10 years ago, but unfortunately was forced to close down about 3 years ago, mainly, I think from the rapidly decreasing population of the city and the neighbourhood that the store was in, turned to **** in that short 5 year period.

So, I ask from you guys, what do you think of this? Any ideas for a town to open up shop in, brands to carry, any other suggestions? I know I'm going to be taking Entrepreneurial Business at the college here, then I'm probably gone. Thanks,

-Dave

edit: Forgot to add, on my year off from highschool I was planning to take a guitar repair course at Summit School (http://www.luthiers-international.com/index.htm) its on Victoria Island. This will help me save some funds in hiring more than one other person to do repairs, I could do some myself.
 

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Hey God9; First, I think it is great that you are working thru your career/future now and pointing it towards what you love. I have very little 'business' experience but recently, I posted that I was available to do repairs/mods to guitars and amps, this is my retirement plan, (and kickin-ass at the local pubs).

I have had a lot of interest but the shocking thing is that these people want it all done for free! I'm not kidding, a guy with a vintage vibrolux had a problem, I told him to bring it by and I'd actually look at it for free but I didn't have any tubes, he would have to *buy* them, never heard from him again. And yeah, I did offer to buy the amp, he said it was awesome and had sentimental value, not enough to put $100 or less into it I guess.

Same as the guy who needed new pots in a Tele, I told him like $15-$20 to replace, never heard from him again. That is cheap work!

And the guy with a bad jack in his LP, $10, no sign of him.

And the guy who wanted his guitar painted for $10, I told him to get a can of spray paint and have at it.

So from now on, it's like, 200% markup on the quote, they must think I am inexperienced offering work so cheap but I wanted to get my name out there, I've been tinkering with electronics since I was 12. Let 'em go to MusicStop and find out how much it will cost but you can be sure, that MS does not have a cert Electronics Tech on board.

So, I dunno if this helps, sorry for the rant, something tho you need to keep in mind - deadbeats, so many people want it all free, reminds me of the t-shirt my daughter's boyfriend has:

No Job
No Money
No Car
But I'm in a Rock Band!

Michelle
 

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Michelle said:
Hey God9; First, I think it is great that you are working thru your career/future now and pointing it towards what you love. I have very little 'business' experience but recently, I posted that I was available to do repairs/mods to guitars and amps, this is my retirement plan, (and kickin-ass at the local pubs).

I have had a lot of interest but the shocking thing is that these people want it all done for free! I'm not kidding, a guy with a vintage vibrolux had a problem, I told him to bring it by and I'd actually look at it for free but I didn't have any tubes, he would have to *buy* them, never heard from him again. And yeah, I did offer to buy the amp, he said it was awesome and had sentimental value, not enough to put $100 or less into it I guess.

Same as the guy who needed new pots in a Tele, I told him like $15-$20 to replace, never heard from him again. That is cheap work!

And the guy with a bad jack in his LP, $10, no sign of him.

And the guy who wanted his guitar painted for $10, I told him to get a can of spray paint and have at it.

So from now on, it's like, 200% markup on the quote, they must think I am inexperienced offering work so cheap but I wanted to get my name out there, I've been tinkering with electronics since I was 12. Let 'em go to MusicStop and find out how much it will cost but you can be sure, that MS does not have a cert Electronics Tech on board.

So, I dunno if this helps, sorry for the rant, something tho you need to keep in mind - deadbeats, so many people want it all free, reminds me of the t-shirt my daughter's boyfriend has:

No Job
No Money
No Car
But I'm in a Rock Band!

Michelle

Hey Michelle, remember that slogan from our youth: "Ass, grass or gas. Nobody rides for free!"

It's also amazing how many of the folks wanting free work wouldn't spot you a beer for your trouble if you were dying of thirst.:mad:

My (unasked!:tongue: ) advice for you if you are serious about "turning pro" is don't even talk about working on someone's amp or guitar before you've clearly stated "That's how I earn my living! I'm in the amp business!".

If you start off by talking like a hobbyist then many folks will immediately think "Great! Here's someone who will fix it for fun! They like to do it so I'm doing them a favour by bringing it to them!"

You don't need them, now or ever. So don't leave yourself open to it. If they CAN find someone to help on a hobby basis then good for them! You've got bills to pay and loved ones to provide. Besides, hobbyists don't have to stand behind their work.

Register a business name and get a sales tax licence. I'm not sure how it works in your province but I'm sure it's a simple process. You don't have to charge or account for GST for a few years until you reach a high enough dollar figure. Go to avery.com and get some free software that will let you design and print some business cards. You don't have to buy thousands at a time. Just print out a few whenever you need them. Keep it simple until you've grown up!

Then let the word out through your circle of musicians that you're available. Be prepared for things to start slow. There's no real way to speed things up that I've found. Advertising is always very expensive for hitting very few potential customers. Newspaper ads cost quite a few bucks. Lots of people might see it but how many are guitarists with amps? If there's no bang for your buck then why bother?

Word of mouth may start slow but if you do good work and stand behind your service eventually you'll find yourself TOO busy! It took me a year and a half but one day I woke up to find I was busier than a politician making promises and couldn't move for amps in my workroom!

Since then I can't get emptied out enough to have the room to straighten up the room! Sometimes I can't get to the window to open it up for a breeze.

It will never be megabucks. You can only charge so much and you always have too many unchargeable hours running around during the day. There's always guys who want to play the amp for the afternoon before you can shoo them out the door! Or others who take a lot of telephone time. Or parts ordering - or expediting when they don't show up! All this time may be unavoidable but it isn't chargeable.

Still, it can be a modest living and a lot of fun! What's more, if in the evenings you go out to various clubs to hear what your work sounds like on stage it's amazing how much free beer you'll get!Drool

Most important, if you find the moochers or the crankbags are still getting you down then keep a pile of your competitor's business cards handy and give them out to the worst offenders. That way, you'll have all the nice customers and he'll have all the problems! None

Good luck with it!
 

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god9, I think it's great that you are thinking about the future. Just a couple of thoughts:
- finish that business education.
- spend a few years working in a Guitar store to get a background feel for the business.
- make sure you have ample financing in place.
- while it would be cool to sell intermediate/high end guitars and basses, it's probably the low end you sell to the starting musicians that pay the bills and keep the doors open
- and make room for and hire some good teachers. Students not only pay for lessons, they buy their stuff from you.
- and, of course, keep those 3 words in mind: location, location, location
It is retail after all.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
If possible I was going to try and find a place in a good location and maybe even an upstairs apartment which I could split the rent with, maybe if I were to find a sizable enough location I could eventually put a stage in a turn it into its own guitar store/ music club. Would be expensive, but in the long run those ticket prices might save my ass. Who knows.

Also, I really want to strive to open a very friendly and reasonable business. I won't overcharge wildly on prices like I know some places do, and I want to offer good service. Repairs will cost you, but we'll do the best job possible. Every salesperson will be friendly but won't come and ask you every 5 minutes if you're interested or not.
 

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Wild Bill said:
Hey Michelle, remember that slogan from our youth: "Ass, grass or gas. Nobody rides for free!"
You guys should just make a sign on your front door that says that. :)

I suppose it's not very P.C. though hah.

Guitars stores are a weird business. I live in a small town North of Toronto with a whole of small town and cities within 30 minutes. I have seen stores come and go. I know a few 'Mom & Pop' stores that do very well. My town is close to becoming a city, and it has a few stores in it that in my opinion aren't very good.

If someone opened a store that had half decent stock and offered in house repairs I think they would clean up. And with there being several other small towns that are close, they would get business from them as well. NO store in this town offers amp repair, and they do a horrible job of guitar repair. The closest reliable source is 45 minutes away.

I think you just need to find the right market first of all (a town like this one). Then you need the right stock. I know not all stores can get Fender etc., but the stores around here carry pure crap. The are affordable lines out there that have some great product as well. The stores here have had the same stock on their shelves for years. Because it's garbage!

I think the other mistake the stores here make is they don't carry used or consignment gear. Even if you don't get much from consignment gear, it looks cool having it on the shelf. And repairing and re-selling used gear seems like a no brainer to me when it comes to profit.

I am no expert, but that is my take on things.
 

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Hi god9, so you want to be an entreprenuer, good for you!! That is the path that I eventually chose and I have never regretted it, but I can tell you that until your business becomes established (probably 5 years) you can look forward to long hours, little or no vacation time, and modest income at best. The upside is being your own boss and reaping the rewards if and when you succeed, and conversely if you fail, then you have nobody to blame but yourself.

Every point that dwagar made was right on the money, with ample financing being the most important and most difficult first hurdle. It is very difficult to obtain sufficient financing when you are just getting started in the business world, and stocking a new music store would be very expensive indeed, so unless you can obtain significant financing, I'm thinking you will have to start out smaller than you first envisioned.

I'm not trying to step on your dreams man, far from it, I've been down that road and I know it can be done, so go for it, but always temper your enthusiasm with a little reality.

Best of luck, maybe someday you'll sell me that semi-hollow I've been gassing for.
 

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torndownunit said:
I think the other mistake the stores here make is they don't carry used or consignment gear. Even if you don't get much from consignment gear, it looks cool having it on the shelf. And repairing and re-selling used gear seems like a no brainer to me when it comes to profit.
Absolutely, TDU! I don't understand why more smaller stores don't try to fill this niche. There was a store in Hamilton that did this for years. It's closed now but I still remember how one of the owners used to bitch about how it wasn't worth the trouble. To me it seemed he wasn't looking close enough.

Essentially you become a pseudo-pawnshop, and there's some simple paperwork the local cops make you handle whenever something is brought in on conseignment. This store kept a hot list of stolen gear and sometimes found stuff that had been stolen years ago!

Anyhow, they charged a 15% markup. Doesn't sound like much but they had zero inventory cost! They didn't have to pay for the gear, another customer did! What's more, this store also did rentals, sold the usual strings and stuff and had a guitar manufacturing plant in the back. They had NO franchised gear lines so the entire storefront was filled only with conseignment gear.

It was THE place for years for all the serious players! Everybody for miles around would stop by at least once a week to see what had floated into the store. Most of the gear and guitars were modest-level stuff but sometimes there were some amazing pieces! And while you were there even if you didn't have a used amp or guitar catch your eye you'd wind up buying some strings, or picks, or a guitar strap or whatever.

I'm convinced that having a large conseignment area in your store can have HUGE benefits! It just requires a bit of imagination and broader perspective to see 'em. Too often business management today only sees what's in front of their noses and misses all the indirect factors, both good and bad.

I disagree with you about doing inhouse repairs. If you do it yourself it will take up too much of your time from the store. If you pay someone to do it there's not enough money in the repair bill to split. A good tech would be crazy to work in a music store for minimum wage and would go out on his own. Professional repairs usually cost between $50-$90/hr, for a good reason. You can't feed your kids and pay the rent with any less!

What's the hourly rate when you take your car into a garage for servicing? Or when you call a plumber? Or even get your lawnmower tuned up for the season?

I still get guys who pay $2000 for an amp and balk at a $150 dollar repair bill...

The scary thing is that some shops DO get a minimum wage kid to do their repairs. I see these hack jobs every couple of months...:eek:

Geez, I never seem to be able to make SHORT posts!:zzz:
 

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Wild Bill said:
I disagree with you about doing inhouse repairs. If you do it yourself it will take up too much of your time from the store. If you pay someone to do it there's not enough money in the repair bill to split. A good tech would be crazy to work in a music store for minimum wage and would go out on his own. Professional repairs usually cost between $50-$90/hr, for a good reason. You can't feed your kids and pay the rent with any less!

Bill I should have clarified that more. I realized that after my post. What I mean was have the ability to OFFER repairs. See, the stores here don't even have a connection with a local tech to send the amps to. I didn't necessarily mean having the tech physically IN the store, but they should have some connection to one. This isn't a HUGE money earner for the store (they'd only get a small %) but it makes he store much more appealing as a consumer. As you said with the consignment idea, doing this wouldn't even involve much effort for the store.

However, when it comes to guitar repairs I feel the store should have someone working there who can at LEAST do a decent guitar setup and minor wiring repairs. I think it's worth it to pay an employee a little more if they can do some minor work like that. If a guitar is going on the shelf, it should be setup and issue free.

I like to go into a store where they can actually help me out. Not just stare at me blankly when I ask about something.
 

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Wild Bill said:
Hey Michelle, remember that slogan from our youth: "Ass, grass or gas. Nobody rides for free!"............
Absolutely! That used to be a bumper-sticker. and your advise is always appreciated Bill.

I thought I posted this reply earlier today but now it's gone. <shrug>

These people are time-wasters also, I hung around last Sat waiting for the guy with the Tele, no call, no show, no e-mail. No fix for him I guess.

Mich
 

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Michelle said:
Absolutely! That used to be a bumper-sticker. and your advise is always appreciated Bill.

I thought I posted this reply earlier today but now it's gone. <shrug>

These people are time-wasters also, I hung around last Sat waiting for the guy with the Tele, no call, no show, no e-mail. No fix for him I guess.

Mich
Ah Michelle, just be patient!

Someday, you'll be recognised as an amp guru and you'll have problems keeping up. When that happens and the Tele guy comes sniffin' around you can emulate the "Soup Nazi" from Seinfeld and say: "NO FIX FOR YOU!"

:D

Seriously, I'm not talking smartass revenge here. You'll find that when you have a backlog of customers that are good people and support you as you support them it's just not fair to ask them to wait for a diddler like the "Tele guy".
 

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The Clinic

Wild Bill,

Am I right in assuming that you are refering to the Guitar Clinic in your previous post?

I worked there in the late eighties, early nineties and I loved it. It wasn't very often that I took home a full pay cheque due to all of the great gear deals that I got.

I think that there is a need for a place like this in the Hamilton area. Getting the right people involved is key, as the clinic had some pretty talented and knowledgable people working there over the years.

There are a few things going on lately that make me wonder if the idea is on the verge of being reserected in some form or another, but that may be just wishfull thinking.

I can't make short posts either....
 

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Michelle said:
Hey God9; First, I think it is great that you are working thru your career/future now and pointing it towards what you love. I have very little 'business' experience but recently, I posted that I was available to do repairs/mods to guitars and amps, this is my retirement plan, (and kickin-ass at the local pubs).

I have had a lot of interest but the shocking thing is that these people want it all done for free! I'm not kidding, a guy with a vintage vibrolux had a problem, I told him to bring it by and I'd actually look at it for free but I didn't have any tubes, he would have to *buy* them, never heard from him again. And yeah, I did offer to buy the amp, he said it was awesome and had sentimental value, not enough to put $100 or less into it I guess.

Same as the guy who needed new pots in a Tele, I told him like $15-$20 to replace, never heard from him again. That is cheap work!

And the guy with a bad jack in his LP, $10, no sign of him.

And the guy who wanted his guitar painted for $10, I told him to get a can of spray paint and have at it.

So from now on, it's like, 200% markup on the quote, they must think I am inexperienced offering work so cheap but I wanted to get my name out there, I've been tinkering with electronics since I was 12. Let 'em go to MusicStop and find out how much it will cost but you can be sure, that MS does not have a cert Electronics Tech on board.

So, I dunno if this helps, sorry for the rant, something tho you need to keep in mind - deadbeats, so many people want it all free, reminds me of the t-shirt my daughter's boyfriend has:

No Job
No Money
No Car
But I'm in a Rock Band!

Michelle
Hi Michelle,

Why don't you offer your amp repair talents to the local music stores on a sub-contract basis? Most of them can't afford a full time in-house technician, so I bet they would be love to have someone like yourself come in 1 or 2 days a week to do repairs, or better yet, take the amps away to your premises for repairs and return them later.

As a sub contractor you won't get caught up in the hourly rate quagmire, instead you just diagnose the problem and quote the store a total price for the job, they mark up your price and pass it on to the customer, and nobody knows it if took you 15 minutes or two hours to do the job. It works, I sub out small engine repairs in my business and I neither know, nor do I care how many hours went into the repair, I just mark it up and it goes out the door.

The upside to this is that you have very little overhead which is what kills most small businesses. Let the music store pay the rent and do the advertising, you gain access to all their customers without having to sell your soul to the Yellow Pages people.

Anyway that's my 2 bits worth. Good luck!!
 

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shad said:
Hi Michelle,

Why don't you offer your amp repair talents to the local music stores on a sub-contract basis? ...........
That's a good idea Shad and once things get going, then I'll approach them. I'm just getting it off the ground, I have space and mostly all the tools, (picked up a Hitachi 20Mhz dual-trace scope for $75, tube tester for $50), but just part-time for now, I work full time and have the usual family things going on.

Besides playing, there's nothing better than sitting at a bench smokin' resin. :)

Mich
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Another thing I might think of moving into eventually have to move into would be online business, but I'd definately have a website right when I start out. After the first 2 years of my moms store being open, she put all her stuff online.

I was talking to her earlier and she said her online business brought in the majority of her customers, people ordering from Australia at least once a week (don't ask why). This saved her ass pretty much because she was getting in sometimes 200 orders per week online. Also what made this successful was the fact she was only 1 in 5 online toy stores in canada at the time.

Unfortunately, me opening an online store at this period of time will not set me apart from other stores, and I'll probably be somewhere around the 1000th Canadian online music store.

Also, I was meaning to ask you all, what did you mean by consignment?

Customer brings in their gear asking you to sell it for them, and you get some of the profit? Or what.

Thanks,

-Dave
 

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A good website would set you apart from most.

For example, look at 12th Fret. You can look at every guitar.
Now go to L&M. Any guitars on there? Prices? Used inventory? nope.

IMO most Canadian guitar stores have their heads way up their ass when it comes to online marketing.

Which frustrates me to no end. It shouldn't be easier to shop in the US than here.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thats good info there. I was also going to invest in a high quality camera and take pics of everything I have in stock. I really like to see the exact guitar I'm going to buy, I really think online customers will appreciate that.
 

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i think dwagar makes the best point-
i dont have time to troll music stores looking for things, i dont use credit or banks, so online purchases are no good, and im not buying if i cant try it first-
if i go to the website of music stores in the area i get no idea of what is actually in that store- all i get is links to manufacturers websites- doesnt mean the store has what i want in stock, or what they want for it, and phonecalls result in vague answers, so i dont waste my time.
scott at axeyoushallrecieve has the right answer- his website works, and he is great-
as for repairs- it is a niche market- either your dealing with passionate souls who want theyre stuff to work but have no money, or rich dudes who want what nobody can give them.
i advise you to start buying new guitars with nitro finish- beat them up, double the price and sell them to rich dudes - thats how smart guitar people do it these days lol
 

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Michelle said:
That's a good idea Shad and once things get going, then I'll approach them. I'm just getting it off the ground, I have space and mostly all the tools, (picked up a Hitachi 20Mhz dual-trace scope for $75, tube tester for $50), but just part-time for now, I work full time and have the usual family things going on.

Besides playing, there's nothing better than sitting at a bench smokin' resin. :)

Mich
I hear ya Michelle, life keeps interfering with my plans too. Anyway, keep on playing and smokin' that resin!! :food-smiley-004:
 
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