Tis the season to think about retail sales

I was going to start this off like the first Lord of the Rings movie, with a heavy-handed monologue about how the world is changing, and how much that once was is lost….it’s true, but it seemed a little much.

Still,  I am going to reference not one, but THREE science fiction/fantasy movies in this post, why you ask? Mostly because it’s a fun device and I’m a bit a of a science fiction nerd, but also it illustrates a point that is along the whole ‘future is now’ kinda thing.  The world of retail these days sometimes feels like it’s straight outta Brazil (and that’s the movie not the country, so there’s a fourth reference.)

As the one who handles all the complicated yet-non-guitar-oriented problems, I have to deal with our own form of the Matrix. Any wholesaler  in the current retail environment has to deal with them: Fulfillment Systems.  What is a fulfillment system?  Well in a nutshell, it’s a way to take all the personal interaction out of making sales.

Think of any big-box, or catalog merchandiser, and they all use fulfillment systems, Amazon, Musician’s Friend, Guitar Center, Best Buy, and they can be very useful.

No one is immune, we are all part of the machine.

So this holiday season, when all the ads and graphics depict happy shoppers bustling through stores and being out in the world, a lot of what is  really happening is this:

We get the purchase orders,
We fulfill the purchase orders,
We provide shipping information (tracking numbers)
We get paid.

It sounds great, and sometimes it works just fine, but a lot of times it doesn’t.  A lot of times I’ll get an order from Musician’s friend for guitars they want shipped in 3 months time. When I want to explain to someone that we won’t have them in 3 months time, but I can ship them now, I can’t get that message across. I don’t know how to talk to the system.

Have you seen  that anime movie Akira? I haven’t seen it for a long long time, and I don’t remember much of it, but there ‘s a line in there that sticks in my head, when this spooky old guy whispers ominously it has already begun.  And the main characters stare off in wonder at the realization that this thing cannot be stopped. It sticks with me because there’s some universal truth in there that you see in real life every now and then. In so many big large systems, you never realize the full implication of implementing that system  until it’s too late to shut it down.  Can you imagine a life without Amazon?  Maybe you can, but it would be terribly inconvenient.  it has already begun.

The thing is, that by and large, we like our customers, we like to interact with them.  Store owner and players, we have a lot in common with them, and taking that out of the mix seems like a loss for everyone.

It’s a wierd time right now for retail, and I imagine it will be some time before the dust finally settles and consumers decide what kind of retail experience they want.  We are partial to the cluttered, quirky guitar shops and hope you are too. (they tend to be the ones that carry our guitars) Think about them when you do your holiday shopping this year, if you like the human beings that work there, stop by and let them know. You might pay a little more, but think of it as investment into keeping the Matrix at bay.


A special thanks to some nice young men working the counter at Guitar Center, sorry I forgot your names, but here’s a link to my Esty page:


This entry was posted in Sophy's Blog and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Tis the season to think about retail sales

  1. DiPinto Guitars are distinctive in design, have great “fit and finish” and are priced for the middle position of guitar budgets. They are a great value with unique style. This is exactly what we look for in our product offerings. I own CGS. Proud to have them.
    DiPinto Guitars….. Yea, we got em and they are the real deal!
    Vince Nettuno

  2. Chris says:

    Hey Vince, we love Crossroad Guitar shop as well! Your store is killer!

  3. Phil Henzig says:

    As a kid starting to take guitar lessons and my parents purchasing my first instruments there were basically two music stores on my side of the town, small by todays standards in Milwaukee WI. One sold mostly Gibson instruments and another had the franchise for Fender for the Midwest ,so any dealer had to buy from this dealer first in order to offer a fender guitar in their store . It was simple you bought a Gibson or a Fender guitar and that was when there was one model 335 or Telecaster . Todays department store type music stores are I think for a lot of buyers huge over kill do we really need 47 different models of a Stratocastor or Les Pauls and then of course the signature models that go for 3 or 4 thousand dollars. And then you wonder why the music business is on the verge of collapse. When I first started playing you could buy a Strat for $400.00 and American Strat . A Gibson 330 for the same price . I taught guitar ,50 students a week all during high school so I could buy a Gretsch Country Gentleman like my hero’s Chet Atkins and George Harrison played, I payed $800.00 for one , Oh yea there was only one model of that guitar offered for sale . I guess my point is that every thing has been taken to such a overblown degree ,size of store, models offered,price,that nothing stands out it just is confusing and lacks every thing I experienced in the sixties. But there is the internet while perhaps not personal like the old days but thanks to people like you a person can get a great playing ,sounding nicely crafted instrument even if the local stores don’t stock them for a very fair price and take it to the gig every night and have fun just making music like we did back in the 60’s .

    • sophy says:

      I agree with you on the overwhelming amount of choices there are (that is too many really, and a lot of the same but with a humbucker in the bridge andt etc.). I think that’s everywhere though, not just in the instrument market. And a lot of stores have contracts and buy-ins where they have to get all the different types of signature Teles just to get in the American Standard Teles that they really want.

      But I don’t agree with the fact that stores don’t charge a fair price. No one’s getting rich over at your local music store. Thier margins are so slim that they have to hope that they can make up the difference on strings and lessons and whatever else actually makes money. MAP prices (minimum advertised prices) have their own special set of problems, but if it wasn’t for this industry standard you can bet the bigger stores would sell guitars at a loss just to put their competors out of business.

      That’s what I mean about consumers deciding what they want. It can cost a little more to shop at your cool nieghborhood music store, but if you want that store to be there in the future, you gotta pay the price.

      • Phil Henzig says:

        Hi What I ment is that its not that the stores are charging to much ,I have friends that work in those stores BUT that Guitars in general especially Gibson and some Fenders are way over priced from the factory . I don’t care whos name is on it (Signature models) no Strat is worth 3 to 4 thousand dollars,Eric Clapton made Blackie out of 4 pawn shop guitars he found when touring the south. Same goes for Les Pauls,My income as well as the other local musicians band jobs pay has not gone up 4 to 5 times what I made in the 60’s , and to top it off I have played some of the custom shop guitars and some of them don’t play as well as a Mexican Strat. I don’t know any musicians in town that bring a 3 thousand dollar guitar to a gig and I know a lot of them . I guess my point was in simpler times the 60’s when I grew up everything was simpler ,cheaper ,more accessible awe man I guess i’m just getting old Dam I promised myself I would not, But I think the Manufacturers are the ones who lost touch with the working musician . The Local stores just stock what they percieve as what the people want . There was a 100 thousand dollar Van Halen strat copy hanging up at our local guitar center a few years back ,Now that is NUTs Ok I will not rant any more !

      • Phil Henzig says:

        By the way I picture your store as being the type of store I would really like to be in. Ever think of opening a Milwaukee branch 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *