Become a retail outlet?

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by Cheap, Jul 6, 2017.

  1. Cheap

    Cheap .....ite

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    ***Mods please move this if it's in the wrong spot***

    I'm going to be launching a new store/buying platform in the next 6 months-year and wanted to check around here to see if anyone has any good ideas for where to start when purchasing stock to sell from pedal companies.

    I'll be going to NAMM next week, but I don't know if all my ducks are in a row to approach manufactures this early on for pricing--does that seem like a bad move if the concept isn't fully fleshed out yet?

    I will need inventory pricing in order to solidify the business model before launch

    Has anyone on here gone from hobbyist to retailer and have any tips for starting out?
     
  2. marcwormjim

    marcwormjim SS.org Regular

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    Your post suggests an intent to buy direct, rather than through a distributor. If this is the case, it should only be a matter of knowing which brands you wish to stock, then contacting them.

    If you're unsure of which brands you think will sell, I would suggest more market research. I see no benefit to using Summer NAMM as a deadline, or even as a reason to amass dealer catalogs - I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt that your notion to get to know reps on a personal basis and "make connections."

    Being as I don't know what your "new buying platform" is, my initial skepticism is to do with how the overhead could possibly be lower than using a Reverb storefront to sell new at MAP, and B-stock/used/returned at less. And if not, then is the long-term plan to have a social marketing angle in hopes of a buyout?

    If your intent is to open a physical, walk-in retail location, then please disregard the above, as well as any further business advice anyone else may have to offer. I'm speaking from the prejudiced experience of leaving NAMM-associated retail behind (even then, I only subcontracted the unfortunate retailers).
     
  3. Wizard of Ozz

    Wizard of Ozz Arch-Mage of Metal

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    Money and time. Lots of both... to get most any business up and off the ground.

    Are you looking to open a brick-n-mortar store front or strictly online sales?
     
  4. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I have a sort of convoluted way of getting to my point, I apologize in advance.

    I used to work at a retail guitar store. There used to be dozens of mom-and-pop stores specializing in guitar or guitars and drums. When I worked there, we always had contact with regional sales representatives with the distributors or with the companies themselves, depending on the size of the vendor. For example, selling Ibanez was more red tape. We would have a distributor who got their stock from someone else. Dealing with some of the medium sized companies, like MESA, we would have a rep at the actual company. Really small brands, like Valley Arts, we would just call them and talk to them.

    ...

    But then chains like Sam Ash and Guitar Center rolled in and crushed us. No longer did anyone care about buying a nice US Dean or a USACS BC Rich or a Valley Arts guitar, or, believe it or not, even an Ernie Ball/Music Man. No. They bought that stuff from the big store. And they had good reason to do so. As a small retailer, we simply paid more to get these guitars in stock than the big stores did. They bought more, so they got a better discount, and thus, they could sell cheaper than we could. In some cases, it was cheaper for our store to go to Guitar Center and buy, for example, an Ibanez RG than it was to buy one from our Ibanez wholesaler. We could still stay barely afloat by selling reeds and giving lessons, and sometimes selling picks and strings and whatnot, since we were closer to the venues and stayed open a couple hours later.

    ....

    So, a couple of things. One, make contacts with distributors. Kaman is still around, and sells tons of stuff to retailers. They might be good for odds and ends, but you really need some meat and potatoes brands, and for those, you really need an inside guy on speed dial. Two, are you really sure you want to do this? I may be wrong, but there seems to be little chance of making money doing something like this in today's age of Musician's Friend, Guitar Center, and Sweetwater. These guys are huge and can eat little retailers the way a blue whale swallows up a million little brine shrimp in one movement. The only little places that seem to have survived have had an angle. Usually its stocking a couple boutique brands no one else carries, yet are still fairly popular. That's why I ask, because it seems that the aspect of doing this that might allow you to stay afloat is the part of it you haven't started figuring out yet. If I'm missing something, more power to you, but if you honestly haven't figured out an angle to cut through the noise, I would recommend taking your hard earned money and just lighting it on fire in a big ol' pile. That way, you would at least get a moment's entertainment out of the ordeal.
     
  5. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    Retail is tough, especially if you're thinking of brick and mortar. Maybe consider other options.

    If you're dead set on retail:
    1. Know what you are getting into (it's tough) and be prepared.
    2. Have enough money to get/fight through the initial startup period where you have money going out, but no money coming in yet.
    3. Know your competitive advantage.
    4. Know your target market and how to communicate with them; know how to motivate them to buy.
    5. Keep your costs down as low as you possibly can.
    6. Check out The Gear Page pedal subforum.
    7. Check out TDPRI pedal subforum.
    8. Have a backup plan in case retail doesn't work out.
     
  6. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    ... start as an online shop and let things grow, then, when money is no problem, open a physical store if that is your goal. I takes time to let things grow, specially in this business, so be patience.
     
  7. Cheap

    Cheap .....ite

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    hadn't checked back on this for a few days, thanks for the replies everyone!

    i'm definitely looking at sticking to online only unless a brick and mortar shop becomes feasible, but certainly not factoring that in. been in and around mom and pop music shops all my life and know how hard (or rewarding) that can be.

    i guess i'd say my biggest question here is when it would be appropriate to approach manufactures about pricing, order amounts, etc. i'd like to become a boutique, specialty pedal supplier and keep it to a fairly small amount of brands--dealing directly with the company/manufacturer--and focus more on curating for specific needs of a client instead of trying to 'make it' in a local area
     
  8. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    As soon as you have a solid plan together.


    See if you can work with the builders such that you can set up an online shop and take orders that you then pass through to the builder, pay the builder and the builder then drop ships the order to your customer. This will help with your initial cash flow issues, as you won't have to pay for the pedal until you've already sold it, so you won't incur any inventory or inventory holding costs.
     
  9. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    To this point, though, if you don't have the contacts already, what service can you offer people that they wouldn't be able to do themselves with the same amount of effort as ordering through a distributor this way? It seems to me like this sort of model would only work if the manufacturer was particularly difficult to deal with.

    I wish I could offer something more encouraging, but, realistically, without either a specialized business model that solves a problem or a specialized list of contacts that are worth some significant value, this business will have a low probability of success.
     
  10. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    I think his intent is to work with small manufacturers that probably don't do enough business to have a distributor. In which case I could see this working on a small scale if he were to develop demo videos of the pedals and host them on his website (similar to Prymaxe, but ultra boutique).


    Then there is the comment about "curating for specific needs of a client", so perhaps he is thinking of doing something like what Pete Cornish does, but using other builders' pedals instead of building his own designs. Or perhaps he plans to focus on specific segments of the pedal market: ambient musicians, touring worship bands, etc.

    Music retail is risky, anyway, because there is so much entrenched competition in this field. But with the right angle, it could work (not that I pretend to know that angle).
     
  11. Cheap

    Cheap .....ite

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    Hey, if I wanted rosy support then I wouldn't be asking here. Thanks for what you've shared so far! I think my thick skin will help me if I'm able to start down this route haha

    I like this. I'm not quite ready to share the whole platform idea I'm working at, but sorting initial orders this way as I work to establish comms with companies could be a great way to do it

    Definitely in that vein!
     
    rockskate4x likes this.
  12. ArtDecade

    ArtDecade Unhindered by Talent

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    You don't really seem to understand how this industry works. You might want to work hook up and work for a retailer and then take your experience into the real world.
     

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