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N OT YOUR AV E R AGE COL UMN

OUR 2019 GREAT AMERICAN MUSIC STORE TOUR By Tim and Lana Spicer

In October of 2019, my wife Lana and I rented a 24-foot recreational vehicle and pulled out of our driveway in Auburn, Ala., to drive across the country in search of wisdom from some of the leading music stores in our industry. What followed was an 18-day trip across 18 states as we visited seven diverse music stores. We clocked just more than 7,000 miles in Bella, our Chevrolet Sunseeker, giving us plenty of time to reflect on what we learned from each business along the way. The following are our biggest takeaways from the incredibly long, exhausting, motivating and inspirational journey. –Tim Spicer The first leg of our trip was a grueling 1,300-mile drive to Strait Music Co. in Austin, Texas. Strait Music is a combo store with an impressive business model. We spent the afternoon with Clint Strait, discussing eyecatching retail displays and employee motivation. Strait Music’s diverse business model offers retail, repairs and a rental program. The Strait family owns an attractive store that flows seamlessly from section to section, encouraging customers to expand their musical interests. Each retail section is well placed and perfectly thought out. It’s easy to see why customers choose to do business at Strait Music. On our way out of Texas, we stopped in Amarillo to visit Tarpley Music. We were behind schedule at this point in the trip and didn’t have as much time as we would have liked, but we did have enough time to see why Tarpley Music is so successful. The Amarillo location uses contrasting textures of wood, tile and carpet to demand customers’ attention to the retail location. After leaving Tarpley’s Music, we hit the road for Santa Fe, N.M., to see the 2014 NAMM Dealer of the Year, The Candyman Strings & Things. The Candyman Strings & Things is an example of a music store that perfectly marries attractive store design and unique retail displays with the personality of its city. As we entered the store, we felt a natural continuation of the landscape, architecture and color scheme of Santa Fe. We were impressed with Rand and Cindy Cook’s use of natural light to showcase their inventory. The entire store was warm and inviting. We spent the afternoon discussing how to run a robust lesson program and the unique opportunities a summer rock camp gives students. One of the major takeaways from our visit is how a healthy balance of retail, lessons and summer camps, coupled with strong community engagement, can lead to a cash-flowpositive business. There is another concept that Rand and Cindy focus on: Music makes the world a happier place. This central truth is what makes the music industry so powerful. The Cooks also offered the following gem of wisdom: “Don’t lose sight of the opportunity we have each day to share our passion for music 50

JANUARY 2020

Profile for Music & Sound Retailer

Music & Sound Retailer January 2020, Vol 37 No 1  

In our NAMM Show Issue, we offer an exclusive interview with Bernie Williams, a look at the reformative powers of music, a special Q&A with...

Music & Sound Retailer January 2020, Vol 37 No 1  

In our NAMM Show Issue, we offer an exclusive interview with Bernie Williams, a look at the reformative powers of music, a special Q&A with...