Opening a Music Store


Congratulations on your plan to open a new music store. You are about to enter into an industry that has its own special set of problems and frustrations, but also has the potential to offer many rewards.  There are many that have lost out on this idea, and there are many that have enriched their lives both monetarily and emotionally.

United Sales Associates can prove to be a positive factor for your new endeavor. Our staff welcomes your questions and will consider it an honor to be of service to you and your future employees.  In the following paragraphs please allow us to present some ideas that we think you might find helpful.

Make your hometown banker an ally. Before you put a retainer down on the building (if possible), develop a relationship with a bank. This can be accomplished by borrowing small amounts at first and then paying them off immediately. The credit line can be gradually increased until it is large enough to be of help to you. The idea is NOT to use the money for any purchases or commitments, but rather to show your good intentions for paying your bills in a timely way as a business. After a credit line is established, never, ever avoid paying your bank debt even one day late. If you follow through on this idea, the bank will help you make the critical business moves when you need to.

Location can mean the difference between success and failure. Some considerations regarding location are:

  • Where are the other retail music stores located, and how well are they fairing at those locations?   Is there planned population growth for your area?

  • How safe is the neighborhood for your proposed new store? Will people feel comfortable coming to the area for purchases and service?  Is the police and fire protection adequate?

  •  Parking is always a question. You can have a great looking store that is stocked with great gear, but people are “mall” spoiled and for most part are unwilling to drive around the block for fifteen minutes trying to find a parking space.  If possible, chose a location that includes some of its own parking facility. A lack of parking can be a major growth killer for a music store.

  •  Future growth is usually not considered by folks entering into our industry, however if you become successful (and we are anticipating this) growth and the need for expansion will become a major factor sooner than you might anticipate. In fact, more times than not, your business will grow to an “up or out” level. Growth potential and the resulting space requirements should be considered.

  •  Introduce yourself to someone on the zoning or building commission. This person should look at your proposed location and store design BEFORE you sign a lease. If you are planning to include teaching studios this is absolutely mandatory. I can introduce you to dealers who were “surprised” with sixty thousand-dollar additional expenses because they failed to check things out beforehand with the zoning board. There are many rather complex codes regarding fire exits, hall width, etc.

  •  Visit the county plan commission. Inquire about proposed new community projects or county and state roadway projects. This will help you avoid opening a new exciting store and then realize that the road in front will be under construction for the next year!

  •  Have the building checked out by professionals. The relatively small fees for this service can save you a ton of money and most importantly sleep. There has been more than one dealer who has lost several weeks of good business because of leaking roofs, flooded basements, malfunctioning air conditioners, and non-working furnaces.

So now you’ve done all of the above and you have your location. You are looking at bare walls and trying to decide on where to display what. There is no one alive who can tell you the absolute best way to design your store layout, however, listed below are some ideas and considerations.

  •  It is generally understood that the closer one gets to the entrance, the more valuable the floor space becomes.  The thought regarding this idea is consumers will usually only go into a store as far as they need to in order for them to satisfy immediate needs or wants.  Professional store design engineers usually compensate for this by placing “common” or “need” items as far away from the entrance as possible. Groupings of high profit and high-ticket items are usually closest to the entrance.

  • Please take a moment to refer to the merchandising “tips” article provided by United Sales Associates on our web site or in our dealer business seminar booklet. You can learn about some of the more effective merchandising concepts in that publication. These concepts can be adapted for your new store and hopefully save you some time.

  •  Take a trip. That’s right!  Sorry, not a vacation, you’re going to be much too busy!  Visit other music stores both big and small. You can learn a lot by visiting these other music retailers.  Sometimes you will discover things that you want to copy and you will also notice some things to avoid. Try to take some notes and bring your camera to record the outside appearance and window displays. While you are “on the road” visit other retail outlets (non-music industry). The consumer electronic stores, new style motorcycle stores, and sporting goods stores compete for the same kind of dollars that you will be trying to earn. These guys are generally very effective in their displays and store design. Copying is the greatest compliment of all. Most importantly, be a critic and a consumer in your travels. Try to note the displays that interested you and helped make you want to buy.

  •  Attend the music industry trade shows (NAMM). Companies spend large amounts of money to display their products effectively. You can take advantage of top notch display designs for free if you just bring your camera to NAMM!!

Manning the store is a dominant factor. All of the above are contingent on the way they relate to your ability to observe and service your customers. There is also security to factor in (unfortunately). A very high percentage of your clientele are really fine folks, however, once in awhile a bad actor comes on to the scene.  You will never stop all petty theft.  If you are going to worry yourself sick over occasional shop lifting occurrences then you probably shouldn’t consider any type of retail business. However, you will need to attempt a realistic and reasonable attitude towards minimizing losses due to theft.  Strategic placement of your normal work area and cash register can help reduce theft losses. Man power management, especially during busy hours will also prove to be the main preventative measure.

This discussion is in no manner meant to be the defining word on opening a new music store, however, it may prove to give you some solid ideas and some considerations that you hadn’t thought about on your own.  Again, please allow United Sales Associates to extend a helping hand to you. Welcome aboard and BEST OF LUCK!

Contributed by the late Jim Matthews of JCBE Marketing - Greencastle, IN.

8/08/2003
USA REPS and Tacoma Guitar Company to part ways effective September 1, 2003.

8/01/2003
B-Band Ltd. Appoints United Sales Associates representatives for the Southeastern USA.

7/17/2003
USA REPS is awarded The Presidents Award from Audio Techinca for outstanding commitment and dedication.

Ed and Wendel accept the Presidents Award from Philip Cajka, Audio-Technica President and C.E.O. and Kal Mullens, Director, Strategic Account Sales

5/01/2003
USA Reps Carolina secures 11,000 square foot office and distribution center.

2/01/2003
Josh Early appointed Systems Contractor representative for the Carolinas.

1/01/2003
Chris Flatt appointed MI representative for Western Tennessee and Mississippi.

1/01/2003
Ed Rider awarded Tacoma Guitar Rep of the Year.

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