Marks MI’s Return to In-Person Events By Brian Berk
“I have heard the comments that retail is dead. Retail is not dead, and I hope it will never be dead.” —Gayle Beacock
(L-R) Gator Cases' Crystal Morris speaks while Hal Leonard's David Jahnke and Cannonball Music's Tevis Laukat look on.
Spirits ran high on July 13 at the Hilton Nashville Downtown as many in the MI industry saw each other for the first time in 18 months as the National Association of School Music Dealers (NASMD) show commenced. Whitney Grisaffi, president of NASMD and Ted Brown Music, kicked off the event by stressing that it is especially important for people to gather in person after such a difficult year. “Some of the best business is done when people sit around the table where vendors and retailers meet,” she said in her opening remarks. “You have a chance to make those connections you would not make other wise.” Following a Power Hour breakfast, the retailer-manufacturer connection was further solidified via “Vendor Partnerships: Working Together Makes Us All Stronger,” a breakout session moderated by Beacock Music’s Gayle Beacock. Before even discussing these all-important relationships, she expressed discontent with any notion that retail’s future is bleak. “I have heard the comments that retail is dead,” said Beacock. “Obviously, retail is not dead, and I hope it will never be dead if you are good [at what you do]. We can be good with the help of our vendor partners.” Joining Beacock on the panel were Hal Leonard’s David Jahnke, Gator Cases’ Crystal Morris and Cannonball Music’s Tevis Laukat. Jahnke was asked what Hal Leonard does to help their retailer partners. “We have two programs,” answered Jahnke. “One is called PROF-IT (Preferred Retailer Online Fulfillment Through Technology). It allows people to order products on our website and support the music retailer of their choice. It was a way, when the pandemic hit, to support the retailer. We also have a fulfillment provider program, also for online. We are a firm believer: we want our sales to go to retailers.” Jahnke added Hal Leonard also has a Digital Retailer Program, which gives retailers access to a huge amount of digital content online at their stores. “So there is never a product that is out of stock, because it can be downloaded digitally,” he said. Laukat noted when he and Sheryl Laukat founded Cannonball 25 years ago, brick-and-mortar retailers were their main focus and have been the “backbone” of the business ever since. “We totally believed the school music dealer is going to be there forever,” said Tevis Laukat. “When I was a kid, there was a hardware store on every corner. You could get a hammer and a set of nails. But that changed. A hammer is a hammer. You can find it anywhere. But a musical instrument is an individual, personal item. People name their instruments because they are so personal. “People have always been amazed we do not sell online,” Laukat continued. “We only sell to music instrument retailers, and to this day, that still is our philosophy. Brick and mortar is here to say.” If retailers still have any difficulty selling Cannonball products, Laukat stressed they should pick up the phone and call him. “Those that know me know I have a passion for this,” he said. “I can get on the phone and help you close that sale. You cannot have something on the wall and hope it sells. Feel free to reach out to me.” If all else fails, retailers should ask manufacturers for anything they need, Beacock relayed. “Ask manufacturers how they can make step-up season more successful or rental season more successful,” she said. “That’s what dealers not here [at NASMD] are missing. They do not have that connection. That is why is important to still meet in person.” “What can we do to support you and make your business grow?” added Laukat. “As manufacturers, we have to be flexible to make it work for your situation.” Looking ahead, Morris said Gator Cases is focusing on what it can do as a AUGUST 2021