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Let’s face it, business today in the Musical Instrument and Pro Audio channels is challenging, and that may be a significant understatement. Supply chain headaches have only increased in recent weeks, and even the heartiest optimist among us may have trouble staying upbeat. The typical run-up to the Holiday selling season is not developing as one would expect and looking back at this year of disruption and market gyrations, there’s a feeling of “let’s get 2021 over and done with.” But with all of that said, glimpses of hope and positivity can always be found, if you know where to look.

Independents Day in the Sun

When I acquired my manufacturer’s rep firm Reflex Marketing in 2019, an industry friend called me and suggested I was crazy to buy into the musical instrument business at this point in time. He warned me that “Independents were dying,” and that all the other firms were running from our beloved MI trade and flocking to the Contractor-AV markets. Being a contrarian at heart, this came to me as confirmation that I was doing the right thing. I knew instinctively that Indy music store owners are a resilient bunch, and that if other rep firms were running away, I could exploit that situation and press forward. But without great dealers like BCR Music & Sound, the formula would not have worked. BCR owner Jarred Cannon has taken a great store and made it even better with a recent remodel, and this location is the epitome of a cool rock shop you just want to hang out at. The staff is super knowledgeable, expert repairs are done on site, and Jarred leads by example, putting customer service first. The result is a perfect example of “experiential marketing”, as this inviting storefront makes you just want to come back for more. Truly one of the finest Independent Dealers I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

When Suppliers Go the Extra Mile

At the manufacturer level, Breedlove sets the tone for excellence in an MI vendor. Not only are the guitars amazing, but their content marketing also leads the industry. Taking that to a whole different level, Director of Sales Jerry Lambert gets personally involved with rep firms and key customers, providing an assist you don’t see from too many suppliers. Recently another top-notch Indy dealer, Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center, flew veteran buyer Carlos Romero out to the Bend, Oregon factory for a wood-selecting and custom guitar designing session. It may come as no surprise that the beautifully maintained acoustic guitar room at the store has a wide selection of Breedlove models, and one of the best Bedell assortments in the country on hand for their customers. Here again, excellence is demonstrated by both the supplier and retailer, working in harmony to create an unbeatable customer experience.

The Ideal Industry Constituent Profile

There are certainly many other great manufacturer and dealer stories to tell. BCR Music & Sound, Washington Music Center and Breedlove are proof-positive that our industry is alive and well, despite the obstacles presented in recent years, and exacerbated in 2020 and 2021. Let’s keep that positive mojo in mind when faced with difficulties, or when working together with our industry partners. The “ideal constituent profile” is embodied by these industry players, and we should both honor and emulate their methods and attitudes. Here’s to the “best of the best,” and hope for an improving picture for everyone as we wrap up this year and charge ahead into 2022.

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