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I’m starting this post at 34,000 feet, winging my way to the 2023 NAMM Show. It’s been a comfortable flight thus far, but internally my adrenaline is bubbling up in anticipation. This is a special convention for me, my family and several others who have supported our efforts to create a new brand of guitars and cajóns. It is with great anticipation and a bit of high anxiety that we are taking this step, especially considering the current inventory imbalances in the fretted instrument trade. Does the world need or want a new, affordable acoustic guitar targeted at beginners and “adult learners?” Well of course it does when you have a great story to tell, excellent business partners and factory support, and the artistry of our talented team members to lean on. In addition, we will have our own booth for the first time, as Music Ship continues to succeed since we took over distribution of AER Amplification, along with acquiring and continuing to develop the popular Outlaw Effects brand.

Bodhi Guitars & Cajóns – A Modern Love

Was it serendipity or just good fortune that led to my conversations last fall with Rishab Bhargava and his fine company? Apparently, they had found me on a Google search, which relates directly to the last four years of blogging I’ve done on this website. It appears that my “SEO juice” is flowing nicely, as I’m popping up on page one for certain search queries related to our industry. After just a few video conferences between the U.S. and India, together we hatched the concept of Bodhi Guitars. Then shortly thereafter the idea of adding cajóns to our product line made perfect sense, and the work began in earnest. Convinced that if we produce a quality product, have a solid marketing plan and the content to back it up, there’s every reason to believe we can succeed. I know not what to expect over the coming days and weeks as we inform dealers nationwide via an email blast with Musical Merchandise Review, or if the stylish print advertisement in the April issue of MMR will catch someone’s attention. We are prepared out of the gate with informative product videos, outstanding photography, a lovely website, social media pages, all poised to propel our new child Bodhi into the big world.

Anaheim City, Alright, Alright…

The title of this article evokes a David Bowie song and is meant to be in good humor and to honor our trade association. If it wasn’t for music merchants, I couldn’t have enjoyed the last 43 years in this unique business of ours. I’m hopeful that NAMM comes off despite being held in April, and not attracting many of the vendors or dealers that typically would attend. But that alone would not stop the Bodhi Tree from taking root, nor the sailing of the schooner Music Ship. It goes without saying that Reflex Marketing, our core rep firm business, continues to thrive despite the ups and downs of the past several months. There’s a much bigger debate to be had about the viability of trade shows in general, and the incredible “bullwhip” effect the industry has endured since COVID.

The Show in Review – Let’s Dance!

So here we are, flying back home after NAMM. The theme for Reflex at this show was “quality over quantity”, as only a handful of our customers took the trip from the Northeast. But those that did make the trek made it quite worthwhile, and our new Bodhi brand was well-received. I think the jury is out on what comes next for NAMM, with the return in 2024 to the traditional January confab. We’ll see how the balance of this year unfolds, but more than likely will be back to Anaheim and another opportunity to engage with dealers, rekindle relationships, and an in general partake in the magic of person-to-person interaction. In other words, “the show must go on.”

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