Out & about Magazine - Dec 2011 - Cheese & Wine

Page 51

By Matt Amis Photos by Tim Hawk L-R: Kyle Buzalek, sales; Jim Pennington, store manager, Kirkwood Hwy; Morgan Whitcraft, instructor; Adam MacKinnon, store manager, Concord Pike, and Drew Keane, assistant store manager, Kirkwood Hwy.

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hen Drew Keane reports for work at Accent Music, amid the walls festooned with shiny guitars, the polished drums, the kick pedals, amps, and mic stands—it hardly seems like work at all. “This is the best job in the world,” he says. “I’m surrounded all day by the things I love. I hardly consider it work.” Keane, a drummer in the local band Brixton Saint by nightfall, is an assistant manager at Accent’s Kirkwood Highway location, where he has be an employee for three years. He’s one of several local musicians manning the registers, tuning the strings and tightening the drumheads at area music shops. The arrangement, it seems, is mutually beneficial. For customers, there’s comfort in knowing their sales rep can actually handle an axe, and has a high degree of personal expertise in the instruments he’s selling. For Keane and others like him, the benefit is a work environment where their musical experience is a perfect fit, and where it can become a sales tool. Keane, who also performs in Josten Swingline, often shows customers cell phone pictures of himself onstage with his Gibson guitar. “I’ll say, ‘Look at how cool I look—that could be you!” he says with a laugh. Jim Pennington, a manager at Accent and a guitarist in The Collingwood, says musicians and music stores are a natural fit. “Apart from the good deals we get on equipment, yeah, it’s what we know best.” Pennington can sense the ease in a customer’s voice once he reveals his musical background. “There is an element of security there,” he says. Chris Julian, a sales rep at Guitar Center and guitarist in the band Villains Like You, revels in helping customers find the guitar of their dreams. One such customer had searched for months until Julian led him to a Gibson Les Paul Standard electric guitar, Cherry Sunburst. “This guy wrote me a page-long follow-up email about how much he loved it,” Julian says. “He was super stoked. He said it felt like a friend sold him his guitar, not a salesman. Those are the interactions you strive for on a daily basis.” The job amplifies Julian’s most intense passion. “It complements what I do on a daily basis,” he says. “It makes everything easier. The worst part of my job is breaking down cardboard boxes. I mean, come on, I have this dream job. It’s freakish, almost. “It’s not as if I’m some kind of banker, and only play during the weekend. Working at a music store, you’re totally submersed in it. It becomes more of you.” But there’s another aspect to the musicians-as-salesmen phenomenon, one that most financiers would appreciate: networking. “The networking is the hidden secret of working here,” Keane says. “I hear a lot of ‘hey, weren’t you that guy in that band? Well here’s my band. We’d love to do a show with you.’” Aside from the occasional encounters with fans, music store reps make frequent and often meaningful connections Continued on page 51 49

11/22/2011 3:34:36 PM

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