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Unread 05-29-2010, 10:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

Mom & Pop vs stores like Guitar Center or Best Buy or Sam Ash........let's discuss.

I started a thread about Best Buy locations with better Gibson, Taylor or Fender Guitars. I was puzzled by a comment that went something like "I only shop at real music stores".

Real music stores????

Some guys favor true mom & pop shops.

Some guys like the huge stores.

I'll say this up front. I don't think that mom and pop shops are as special as they used to be......tiny store......20 guitars or so....a few cheap ones sitting out and a few primo Gibson and Fender guitars behind the counter. 1975.....that was the best.

These are the Mom and Pop shops in that I know in 2010......

You walk in to find Jay Turser, Washburn and Aria guitars everywhere....they have Behringer plastic effects pedals and you don't recognize most of the amps.

We have a store like this in the Milwaukee western lake country near my home. The owner is a bitter lady who loves to start contests with people. If you say that you have a Martin D-15 she'll ask if you have ever played a real Martin. If you mention a Les Paul Studio, she'll tell you that the Aria solid bodies in her shop are so much better than a cheap Gibson. She always has 12 or 13 amazing Washburns not much else.

Attitude, no inventory, sales guys my age who prance around like they used to help Jeff Beck in the studio and if you need something like a Kyser Capo, they yank out the huge wholesale book and tell you that they can order a capo and get it into stock with w 50% deposit.

This may shock you. I often prefer Guitar Center and Best Buy.

-I like inventory.
-I like inventory that is comprised of real brand names.
-I like to try a floor model guitar and then take my pick of two or three of the same model from new boxes in back when I buy.
-I like it when it's OK if I play anything.
-I like a solid 30 day no hassle return policy.
-I like clean stores with a variety of places to try the gear.

We have a store in Milwaukee called Cream City Music (huge Gibson and Gretsch dealer) - Cream City is amazing but I would never call it a mom & pop shop. Cream City is big and on par with First Quality in Louisville. I would have to put Cream City on a level higher than a mom & pop.

I don't really have the good fortune of knowing any decent mom & pop shops anymore. I know a few crabby shabby mom & pop stores. Light on inventory and heavy on attitude.

What do you think?? Small vs. big???

John
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Unread 05-29-2010, 10:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

I like some of the smaller shops. I go to the bigger ones because you know you can play anything, but when I'm serious about buying, there's a small shop I can go to that has a lot of top gear where I can rest assured that it hasn't been knocked over by a 6 year old.
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Unread 05-29-2010, 10:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

I like little shops because I feel like a giant inside of them.
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Unread 05-29-2010, 10:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

You're describing a crappy locally owned shop.

Not all locally owned shops can be painted with that brush. Not by a long shot.

I'm located in WESTERN MONTANA - not exactly a hot spot - and we have a fantastic local shop which carries just about anything you could ever want.

THIS is the "mom and pop" shop we refer to - not the dive with the crabby old lady and the crappy off brand inventory to which you refer.

Home Page - Outlaw Music, Missoula, MT. Electric, Acoustic, Bass, Guitars, and Accessories
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Unread 05-29-2010, 10:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MineGoesTo11 View Post
I like some of the smaller shops. I go to the bigger ones because you know you can play anything, but when I'm serious about buying, there's a small shop I can go to that has a lot of top gear where I can rest assured that it hasn't been knocked over by a 6 year old.
+1

My favorite locally owned music shop carries the full Fender, Gibson, Martin, Taylor, Marshall and Orange lines. It is all in great condition, and I can tell they truly care about the customer. They know me by name, and are always very helpful. They can also show me a guitar without pressuring me to buy it, which GC never does. They will always match the GC/MF price.
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Unread 05-29-2010, 11:33 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

I don't like Big Box at all - music, instruments, hardware, general retail, whatever.

But, from a practical perspective, they are unavoidable.


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Unread 05-30-2010, 01:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

I'd rather buy through Craigslist, but if I was going to buy a new guitar, I probably would not buy from a Mom & Pop store in my area because of the following experience:

The two electric guitars that I bought new, I bought from on-line retailers. They arrived in great shape, no problems.

The two electric guitars that I bought through Craigslist are great, no problems.

The ONE (used) electric guitar that I bought from my local Mom and Pop (in this case Pop only) store is beautiful, has great tone, is well built, BUT came with problems. When I went in to buy it, the owner of the shop was giving a guitar lesson to a kid. The store consists of one tiny room, so I had to try the guitar out at the lowest volume possible so as not to disturb the lesson going on. I was more focused on the physical shape of the guitar than anything else. It was very solid, had a straight neck, and stayed in tune, so I bought it. When I got it home, I found out that the volume control was not as effective as it should be, and the neck pickup was too quiet. I was able to get the pickup adjusted (thanks to this forum), and I decided to learn to live with the less than perfect volume control. Needless to say, I have been swayed to stay away from so-called local Mom and Pop stores in my area.
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Unread 05-30-2010, 06:09 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

Not all mom and pops or brick and mortars are like that,but yes there is alot. Don't hate,because its hard times out there for sure and getting Fenders or Gibby's is not even an option. Carrying ridiculous stock numbers is what these manufactures want.

Hell,the local large store had to drop PRS because of the same demands,and in alot of cases they can't even move 'em anyway. Forget boutique,not even on the radar of Podunkville clientele. In these parts anyway. Get in a Tom Anderson or McNaught and the store will be sittin on it forever.
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Unread 05-30-2010, 06:18 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

I like good small mom and pop shops for sure.

Back in the day though, alot of local shops sold for List and wouldnt
bend, i think that hurt alot of business.
They claimed that they would loose there Fender, Gibson, SUNN, Marshall
lines if they sold for cost plus 10%.
I have to say now though that most Mom and Pop music shops
sell for the same price as online. At least here in Chico they do.

My brother in-law had a mom and pop music store in Ashland Ore
back in the early 70's and he sold for cost plus 10%, but after
four years he went out of business, just couldnt sell enough to stay
afoat.
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Unread 05-30-2010, 06:36 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

We have some great local stores, run by the owner rather than part of a chain. Two that come to mind that are basically walking distance from my place are Jackson's Rare guitars and Global Vintage, both on Parramatta Road.

Rene that runs Global Vintage is a great guy to have a talk to about guitars, he always has heaps of good stock, he'll let you play anything - as long as you can play that is. I was in there once and he went over and unplugged the lead of a young guy who was playing badly but loudly.

Jackson's is fantastic - even if they do charge a premium. I've lost count of the 50's and sixties Fenders and Gibsons that I've played at Jacksons - literally millions of dollars worth of guitars that I will never be able to afford to buy. Again, as long as you can play a bit, and are respectful of the merchandise, you can play $50,000 Strats through $10,000 amps until your fingers bleed. You gotta love that
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Unread 05-30-2010, 07:47 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

My favorite mom & pop, The Music Loft in Durham, NC, is now gone, but there are still two here that I love..

Harry's Guitar Shop | www.HarrysGuitarShop.com | 616 Glenwood Ave. Raleigh, NC 27603 | 919-828-4888

Harry's in Raleigh.. The only Orange amp dealer anywhere near here and a great place for parts and used gear. Got the best Norlin I've ever played from there as well as my Orange Terrors.


Fat Sound Guitars

You have to be filthy rich to shop here. Mostly deal in high end, boutique amplifiers. There's a damn sight more than 20 guitars in there. Including a '59 Junior at the moment. Used to have a store in Durham too in the early-mid '90s.. Anyone remember that? Shithead? Kernel?




By contrast, the GCs and Sam Ash here are awful. Most of their stocks are junk, particularly Gibsons, and many of their amps don't even work. The Sam Ash is a bit better than either GC though.. I can at least go into Sam Ash and recognize the employees. The entire staff is unfamiliar every time I go in GC. It must be a REALLY shitty place to work...

I'll take the little stores, thank you very much.
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Unread 05-30-2010, 07:59 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

I have the best of both worlds - a big mom and pop shop and it is literally owned by the same couple that has always owned it. Russo Music Center

My parents bought me my first amplifier (Fender Deluxe II) there when I was a teen and the store was located in a converted Cape Cod style house. Today, they have a large showroom located where 95/195/295 intersect and seem to be competing well with the online and big box stores. Granted, they also have a lot of school district and government contracts so perhaps they don't have to totally rely on retail sales, but they still stock a lot of cool gear.
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Unread 05-30-2010, 08:00 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

There was also a place in Raleigh years ago called The Music Connection. KILLER place. It was in the same building that used to be a club called The Switch that my dad used to party at in the late '70s-early '80s.

I know Shithead is bound to remember The Switch. And AXE. it was apparently THE place to be in those days.
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Unread 05-30-2010, 10:37 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

Bump.
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Unread 05-30-2010, 11:04 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

The only real "mom n pop" store that doesn't sound like what the OP is discribing in the first post for me "locally" is Dave's Guitar Shop

Otherwise anything with in a 40 minute drive for me is nothing to even go to unless you need strings.
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Unread 05-31-2010, 12:35 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

There is a local shop around me that is owned by two idiots that are driving themselves out of business. They got dropped by Martin, Mesa, and Gibson.
That beings said, I would rather quit guitar all together than ever step foot into a Guitar Center again. The sales associates are nice, but it's a really transparent and fake nice. They NEVER know anything about any of their merchandise. Their guitars aren't ever set up anywhere near correctly, they claim that they are "set up at the Fender, Gibson, Ltd... factory"
During a talk to one salesman trying to sell me a pedal, he made a comment that he liked the Zvex Box of Rock almost as much as the Boss DS-1. I handed him the guitar I was holding and without saying one word walked out.
I went to the other store down the street and bought that pedal for a few dollars more and received excellent customer service from people that I have known for years and are always nice. All but 1 of their salesmen are so cool I usually wind up sticking around the store for another hour or two just talking to them. So yeah I really hate Guitar Center...
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Unread 05-31-2010, 12:39 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

OP:

Do you know how annoying it is to walk into a big store, and sit there with your thumb up your ass while waiting for someone to help you?

Lately it's been like this...every single sh!t ass time I've been to a "big chain" store. Jesus H, I couldn't even try out some effects today because no one would even loan me a patch cord. The last time I went to a big chain store I waited for 35 minutes at the bloody parts counter...and the store was EMPTY!!

What's the point of going to these stores if they treat their customers like sh!t, don't listen to a damned thing they say, and treat them like helping them out is a bother?

Screw that.

I'd rather buy used....or go to that Mom and Pop store. One closed down, but there's still one here locally. It's nice to walk in, say hi to Ben, shoot the breeze...and get the necessities. No, he doesn't have everything I need, but then again...if I can't get what I need at a chain store while looking at the damned thing on the shelf, don't see the point in going there either.

Granted, I've seen some small stores do some really stupid things. There was a guy who wanted to specialize in high end guitars and some products he made himself....but he wouldn't do business online. Stupid. He's out of business.

But at least there....hey, if I needed something, he'd ask. He'd pay attention. He'd listen, even if he didn't agree after I became his friend.

But as far as the "big chain" stores? I'm beginning to really despise going to them. If I do business with them anymore, I'll buy it online. If I ask for rain that doesn't mean I'm asking for someone to pull their bloody pants down and take a piss on me....AS A CUSTOMER.

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Unread 05-31-2010, 12:39 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

I much prefer the smaller shops. I avoid GC at all costs (unless I need strings
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Unread 05-31-2010, 12:50 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

Quote:
But as far as the "big chain" stores? I'm beginning to really despise going to them. If I do business with them anymore, I'll buy it online. If I ask for rain that doesn't mean I'm asking for someone to pull their bloody pants down and take a piss on me....AS A CUSTOMER.

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Unread 05-31-2010, 12:54 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

It is very sad that some mom and pop stores have become the "samick outlets"

However, this is a symptom of the big chains along with the big musical instrument manufacturers pushing them out of the loop and forcing them to get crap just to have inventory. I know of many smaller stores that USED to be Gibson dealers before The big boy forced them out. Our own BCR Greg could tell you some horror stories.

It becomes a vicious cycle, the little guys cannot get the desirable inventory because of manufacturer policies, then they get crap, draw less people, get less money, and cannot get the desirable stuff.

One day they are gone, just like the mom and pop hardware stores some of us grew up with.

It is very sad to see. it is the whole Walmart mentality. They come into town, put everyone out of business, then hire the townsfolk to work for them......for peanuts.

Ok, I'll stop ranting, but please, support local business as much as you can.
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Unread 05-31-2010, 01:16 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roman Rist View Post
It is very sad that some mom and pop stores have become the "samick outlets"

However, this is a symptom of the big chains along with the big musical instrument manufacturers pushing them out of the loop and forcing them to get crap just to have inventory. I know of many smaller stores that USED to be Gibson dealers before The big boy forced them out. Our own BCR Greg could tell you some horror stories.

It becomes a vicious cycle, the little guys cannot get the desirable inventory because of manufacturer policies, then they get crap, draw less people, get less money, and cannot get the desirable stuff.

One day they are gone, just like the mom and pop hardware stores some of us grew up with.

It is very sad to see. it is the whole Walmart mentality. They come into town, put everyone out of business, then hire the townsfolk to work for them......for peanuts.

Ok, I'll stop ranting, but please, support local business as much as you can.
Amen Rome!

I refuse to go to ANY big-chain stores (GC, Marshall Music, etc) for ANYTHING! As a matter of fact, I could have gone to GC and bought my blank Gibson TRC for my Classic, but instead, I had my local guitar guy special-order it for me. Yeah, it took almost 2 months to get (they were on back-order from Gibson), but it was well worth it, especially when he charged me less ($12.99) than the usual markup ($15.99). GC would have charged me an arm and a leg...just for walking in the door!

I seriously don't know how most people can just sit back (or bend over, if you will) and take the shit that GC is giving (semi-crappy, overpriced instruments. Specifically Gibson guitars)! Makes me sick sometimes!

Ok, now I feel MUCH better! Carry on.
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Unread 05-31-2010, 02:09 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

I made comments about "Real Music Stores" but I said nothing about Mom & Pop stores--I was including anything from a small Mom & Pop store to a larger music store.

But see in Canada we don't have GC (Unless it's in some of the bigger cities like TO or Vancouver.

Around where I live there aren't too many Mom & Pop stores.

I did define what I meant by "Real Music Stores" and I was eliminating stores that aren't really music stores, but stock music gear--whatever the size of their inventory.

I also was eliminating music stores that masquerade as music stores with some cheap quality overpriced gear & accessories out front.

I once popped into one to get a new string winder because I was at the mall for some other purpose and I couldn't find my string winder--I'm talking about one of those simple cheap winders--usually coat a buck or two.

They wanted $7 for it. The strings & picks cost twice what they would at a Mom & Pop store.


Many music stores offer lessons as well--but I'm not counting them.

There's a difference between music schools who have a store front & music stores that have lessons.

I encountered this same stuff at the local Best Buy. It's not a real music store. Maybe the one near you is, if so--great.

If they have good prices, good selection, good service, and convenient location--goo for it.

Around here that ain't the case--so I remain skeptical.

I like a place that specializes in musical instruments.
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Unread 05-31-2010, 08:12 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

My store is a Mom and Pop.

I am Pop.

I carry only what I like; lines that offer good quality and great pricing. I turned down Gibson and Fender(several times) because they no longer support small shops and want to tell me how to deal with YOU.

You walk into my shop, I know you. You need a quick restring, we do it. You want to spend an hour asking me questions about gear, I take the time. You want something cool and different, I show you something. You need strings at a great price, I sell them for less than GC in most cases. I loan gear. I come to gigs and fix things. I give generous trade ins. I have you sign birthday cards for other customers that come by. I fix your broken guitars.

I am Pop.

I hope to still be here next year. We'll see.

Support guys like me, or we will get jobs that can support US.
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Unread 05-31-2010, 08:16 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BCRGreg View Post
I carry only what I like; lines that offer good quality and great pricing. I turned down Gibson and Fender(several times) because they no longer support small shops and want to tell me how to deal with YOU.

You walk into my shop, I know you. You need a quick restring, we do it. You want to spend an hour asking me questions about gear, I take the time. You want something cool and different, I show you something. You need strings at a great price, I sell them for less than GC in most cases. I loan gear. I come to gigs and fix things. I give generous trade ins. I have you sign birthday cards for other customers that come by. I fix your broken guitars.
Sounds good Greg , actually fits 100% to where I always shop (except they carry Fender and Gibsons as well).

Quote:
Originally Posted by BCRGreg View Post
I hope to still be here next year. We'll see.
I hope so to.
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Unread 05-31-2010, 08:29 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BCRGreg View Post
My store is a Mom and Pop.

I am Pop.

I hope to still be here next year. We'll see.

Support guys like me, or we will get jobs that can support US.
I saw this in the window of a shop yesterday. Support your local merchants.

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Unread 05-31-2010, 09:22 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

Well..

Take my comments with a grain of salt.. most of you know I'm a builder, a repairman and i work for BCRGreg..

but.. they BOTH have their place....

My only real bitch about the "mom and pop" shops is that they don't have "EVERYTHING" in stock.. and.. i've always understood that they simply can't.. you'd have something sitting on a freakin shelf for 20 years and nobody would want it until that one day someone walked in needed that ONE item...

HOWEVER....... 90% of the time i've gone for a GUITAR part at GC... they don't have it EITHER..... So... where's the logic there?

The ONLY time I go to GC for something is if i need it NOW and BCR doesn't have it in stock.. and, any more... thats VERY rare. Last thing i bought at CG was a MIDI cable i needed to replace before a show and i knew Greg didn't have one because i LOOKED before i left the store!! LOL

I USE GC.... really.. I use them like a cheap whore, and thats exactly what they are anyway... I go in there to try stuff out.. like the Egnator amps... I know damn well i aint gonna buy one.. but.. they have it.. sooooooo.


Mom and Pop shops simply can't AFFORD to be Gibson dealers.. the buy in is STUPID and they want to tell YOU what you are going to get.. so you're going to be stuck with a couple 5K guitars you cant move in your area, and a bunch of the crappiest of crappy epiphones that you're embarrased to put on your rack..

AS to the Washburn comment a few posts back... you need to get over that... Washburn makes a quality product and their customer service is WAY better than gibby or fender.....

AS to the Aria... Honestly.. I don't know the new ones.. however.. the Japanese Aria's of the 80's made in the Matsumoko were quality guitars...

My biggest Bitch about GC is the HELP... they SUCK.. they hire kids and pay them squat.. and they usually know two things about Guitars and amps.. Jack and SH&T..... and Jack got run over by a bus last spring.

Our GC had a really cool dude managing the place until last year, P-Rat, he's not there anymore for corporate bullshit reasons, and the place has gone to hell.. P-Rat knew his shit, loved guitars and was a really good guy to deal with.. (he would also refrer people to other "mom and pop" shops (like BCR) to get specialized service.. which is another reason he's not there).

You walk into a Mom and Pop and you get Personality... Greg will likely give you a ration of sh$t about the piece of crap car you drove up to the store in and then pulled a $3000 gibby out of to take your lesson with.. but.. that part of the Mom and Pop thing.. They treat you like family because, you ARE... You get SERVICE there.. and if you ask a question.. you get an ANSWER...


Also... Guitar store owners are also pack-rats... Greg has junk stashed in places you wouldn't believe.. and at least once a week, someone wlakes in with an old guitar.. and Greg starts rifling through his stash and.. whala.. hey.. this will work!!!! That aint hapenin at guitar center!!

I can also relate it to Guns... I buy guns from SMALL shops.. WHY?? Cause that dude in there LOVES guns... he LIVES guns... he KNOWS guns... I go in there and say "i'm thinkin about gettin a .357" and he will point me in the right direction... Also.. im usually buyin USED guns.. and when i buy a used gun, i want to know that it WORKS... this guy aint gonna sell me something that don;t work because... he takes pride in his shop AND he wants my business back..

And there's the rub.. Guitar center doesn't give a rats ASS about YOU.. if one customer walks away.. they dont CARE.. If one customer walks away from a Mom and Pop.. they take it personally....
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Unread 05-31-2010, 10:19 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

I walked into a "mom & pop" about two years ago to by a five way switch for a stratocaster. The young guy behind the counter opened a book, looked it up, told me the price which was abot $12 if I remember right. I had to prepay before he would order it. A week later they called me to pick it up. They handed me a cheap closed style chinese switch. I just took it home and tossed it in a box somewhere and didn't even bother with the strat.

Same store in the late nineties, I stopped by and walked out with my cherry 70 Les Paul Custom with original case for $950. Before that I also passed on an early 70s Black LPC in the same store for $700 because a guy said he would be back the next day for it so it was "sort of on hold" (no deposit). I kick myself for that one today.

It used to be a great store but it's not anymore.


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Unread 05-31-2010, 10:21 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

The original post is quite the unfair generalization. Check this place out: Morrell Music Online Music Store : Morrell lap steel, dulcimers, guitars, resonators, instructional books, dvd

Fender room, Martin room, Peavy room. No Gibson room, though - they can't afford it.
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Unread 05-31-2010, 10:29 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

I like to buy from my guy locally since he initially taught me to play, before I just started teaching myself.

But he's got trouble getting stuff to sell.

To be an Epiphone dealer he had to sign a contract, and be able to move at least 5-6 epiphones a month and have some obscene number, like 30 in the store. He doesn't actually own those Epiphones either. Whereas he owns all his Washburn and Peavey stuff.
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Unread 05-31-2010, 10:37 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Mom & Pop shops vs. Big Chains in 2010 - Reality Check...

I like these mom and pop stores... I usually go to

billsmusic.com

or

Chuck Levin's Washington Music Center

They both have great inventory.
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