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Why mail order?


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#1 Mark Crowley

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 09:58 AM

I am baffled why buying mail order vs buying from your local track is even an issue.  If you regularly buy slot car parts I assume you visit a retail establishment (or have your own track).  If you don't buy at your local track who is supposed to subsidize your track access?  I have seen a lot of excuses but none that make sense if you want to actually drive a car on a commercial track.  Should track time costs be increased?

I'm sure there are special cases where mail order was necessary but by planning ahead and having a little patience this  should be minimal.

I am not a track owner and want to stay that way and still play with slot cars.  Compared to most other hobbies this one is cheap.

 

Mrk


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#2 Ramcatlarry

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 12:13 PM

Two factors usually reduce the practicality of mail order.  A third also helps.

1) You have a track within twenty miles of where you live.

2) Parts you need are actually on the peg to buy when you are there.

3) Someone is actually interested in your purchase behind the counter and willing to order what you need if suitable.

 

Factors that encourage mail order.

1) No track exists in an hours drive.

2) Shipping costs are less than State sales tax for the purchase. Also consider your trip costs as shipping costs.

3) The source HAS what you need at a fair price.


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#3 Dave Crevie

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 02:28 PM

The mail order houses discount the goods well below what a track or hobby shop can. I was involved in the 1/32nd

scale basement racing scene for many years, and almost everyone bought from mail order, even though the big

box discount stores also had the merchandise. It was just cheaper, even including the shipping. In fact, most mail

order houses gave free shipping on orders over a certain dollar amount. 

 

I'll tell you a story about what happened to a local hobby shop sometime in the 1966/1967 time frame. He stocked

a lot of commercial track items because the local tracks did not have a highly varied inventory. One track which was

in a bicycle shop only carried a few ready-to-run cars. No parts. So for at least a year the hobby shop was the primary

supplier for us racers. At this time, discount stores started popping up around the area. The hobby shop owner found

out that the discount stores were selling cars off the shelf for less than he could buy them for wholesale. So, on

garbage pick-up day, he came into his shop early and threw all the slot racing stuff in the dumpster. He swore there

would never be any slot racing items sold in his store again. And there wasn't, until after his death. After a while,

the heirs of the store decided to handle 1/32nd sets and cars. But when those became available over the internet,

they got burned again, and stopped ordering new stock. The only sold what they had on hand. Their primary business

was radio controlled cars and planes, but when people started buying those on line, the store's sales could not support

the place. That along with some other problems, and the store is not around anymore. 



#4 Mark Crowley

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 03:03 PM

Two factors usually reduce the practicality of mail order.  A third also helps.

1) You have a track within twenty miles of where you live.

2) Parts you need are actually on the peg to buy when you are there.

3) Someone is actually interested in your purchase behind the counter and willing to order what you need if suitable.

 

Factors that encourage mail order.

1) No track exists in an hours drive.

2) Shipping costs are less than State sales tax for the purchase. Also consider your trip costs as shipping costs.

3) The source HAS what you need at a fair price.

Those are reasons why people do or don't mail order.  My point is that mail order may get us parts quickly and cheaper but in the long run it is a dead end.

Mrk



#5 Ecurie Martini

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 03:10 PM

Even if you try to have it both ways.......From '99 to '04 I made an annual trek to Las Vegas to attend the  "Slot Car Convention" hosted bt Jon Pierraccos at Rad Trax. It was a large shop with at least 4 tracks: A Blue King, a routed 4 lane "1/32" track, an HO track and a large plastic track.  He carried a large stock of 1/32 cars and parts (I can't speak to the 1/24 stock - didn't look).  I know that I (and many of the other participants) ran up sizeable tabs between races.  He also carried on an extensive mail order business - a room off the main shop was devoted to packing and shipping - I used this function routinely the rest of the year although, truth be told, the on-line shop was not very user friendly. I do not know nor can I speak to what kind of in-store traffic the shop saw the other 362 days of the year nor do I know what other business issues might have contributed but Rad Trax closed in '05.

 

EM


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#6 munter

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 03:14 PM

Down here we mostly all buy through mail order. One guy near me set up his own online business selling RTR 1/32 stuff and you could pick up parts or cars in person but.......you had to suffer 30 minutes of listening to the guy talk, mostly about himself.

 

Even though most cities in NZ had a commercial raceway back in the day there are none in existence now, it is all clubs of individuals in their garage doing their slotcar thing.


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#7 Mark Crowley

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 03:15 PM

For me the bottom line is that if we want a local tracks to continue it is up to us as racers to help make that happen.

-Do I want "stuff' fast and cheap?  Yes but I need a track to run my cars.

-Do I want my local track to have everything on the wall?  Yes, but he can't read my mind nor can he afford 10 of "everything".

-Do I like not paying tax on out of state purchases? Yes but this is a huge political problem that is unfair to local businesses that help the community.  This hurt communities.

 

We need to look at the big picture and help our tracks stay alive.

 

Mrk


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#8 Mark Crowley

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 03:30 PM

A wise man once said:  (Or maybe it was Swiss):

"It is easy to own a Slot Car business worth a millions dollars.  Start with 2 million and wait a week."

 

Mrk


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#9 Mark Crowley

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 03:39 PM

Down here we mostly all buy through mail order. One guy near me set up his own online business selling RTR 1/32 stuff and you could pick up parts or cars in person but.......you had to suffer 30 minutes of listening to the guy talk, mostly about himself.

 

Even though most cities in NZ had a commercial raceway back in the day there are none in existence now, it is all clubs of individuals in their garage doing their slotcar thing.

I assume being in a club would cost more than supporting a commercial track for individual racers.  At least it would be for the guy that bought and houses the track.

Mrk



#10 Ecurie Martini

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 04:16 PM

I might have spent $1500 to build my track - MDF, support framing, magnabraid, 25 A variable regulated supply, track control system + computer, specially made router bit etc.  I had it for 20 years thus $75/A.  I probably hosted 3 races/year, $25 per race. (and, of course, the rest of the time I had it for testing, playing etc.)   We have 6 other tracks in our group and I suspect the economics are similar.  I recognize that this does not address the racing interests of many (most?) on this forum but, looking at the numbers, this may represent the long term future of slot racing in the U.S.A.

 

EM


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#11 Garry S

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 04:24 PM

I am baffled why buying mail order vs buying from your local track is even an issue.  If you regularly buy slot car parts I assume you visit a retail establishment (or have your own track).  If you don't buy at your local track who is supposed to subsidize your track access?  I have seen a lot of excuses but none that make sense if you want to actually drive a car on a commercial track.  Should track time costs be increased?

I'm sure there are special cases where mail order was necessary but by planning ahead and having a little patience this  should be minimal.

I am not a track owner and want to stay that way and still play with slot cars.  Compared to most other hobbies this one is cheap.

 

Mrk

 

Why would any customer of any business be obligated to buy specific products or services from them?  Should your local golf course demand that you buy all your equipment from their pro shop before you can play their course? 


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#12 Mark Crowley

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 05:34 PM

 

Why would any customer of any business be obligated to buy specific products or services from them?  Should your local golf course demand that you buy all your equipment from their pro shop before you can play their course? 

 

 

Really.  No customer is obligated to purchase anything from anyone.  Period.  You can buy from anyone you want at any price you want, for any reason you want and you can put it on credit if you can't afford it.  In fact if your local track loses money it is not your problem.  Just don't be surprised when your local track closes. Or has it closed already?  How many tracks are left in Iowa?

Having a place to play with slot cars may become your problem, but on the bright side perhaps you  could sell your now useless slot car equipment on Ebay and help someone else close their local raceway.  Shooting yourself in the foot is also an option.

 

Most people do NOT buy their golf equipment at the golf course.  So they charge high dues and/or greens fees.  Plus some make you rent a cart.  How much do you want to pay for an hour of practice on a Blue King?

 

Don't get me wrong, I know many if not most people do mail slot car products for one reason or another.  I just wish I knew a valid reason why people do it.

 

Mrk



#13 Pablo

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 05:56 PM

I am baffled why buying mail order vs buying from your local track is even an issue. 

 

I'm equally baffled why you don't understand I'm not going to drive 6 hours at 75 MPH to buy parts at my "local track".

You speak as though everyone has one, like we are presented with one at birth :dash2:


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#14 jimht

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 06:20 PM

"Most people do NOT buy their golf equipment at the golf course.  So they charge high dues and/or greens fees.  Plus some make you rent a cart.  How much do you want to pay for an hour of practice on a Blue King?"   :laugh2: How about a $20 minimum?

 

And this why golf courses seem to be a more viable business than slot car raceways.

They assume that regardless of where the equipment came from, it has to be used at the golf course...and they make sure they profit from their monopoly.

 

Raceways have been proving over and over since the Sixties that you can't pay the rent by having cheap track time, races 2 days a week and selling cars and parts for those races.

 

In actuality, the tracks themselves are the only thing we have exclusivity on and yet many of our customers think that because they own cars they should get to play for free or even be paid to race, (by winning prizes).

 

This is so much fun, why should one have to pay? :dash2: 


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#15 LindsayB

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 06:31 PM

Simple fact - mail order will kill slot car tracks. The people with the overheads need to make money through sales. When you race in one state and buy mail order from a track in another state because you can save money - dont be surprised if your local track shuts.


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#16 Mark Crowley

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 06:32 PM

I'm equally baffled why you don't understand I'm not going to drive 6 hours at 75 MPH to buy parts at my "local track".

You speak as though everyone has one, like we are presented with one at birth :dash2:

That makes perfect sense and I understand we do not live in a perfect world.  But how can we help your track 6 hours away so you don't have to drive 8 hours next 

Pablo you are between a rock and a hard place but there is no solution I know of when tracks close.  Experienced racers like you are a treasure trove of experience we all learn from.  We have regulars that come up from Wichita, the Ozarks, Eastern Missouri and Iowa to race at RIR.  They are all very good racers and have upped everyone's game. 

year.

On the plus side now if you buy direct from JK you are at least now helping your "local" track.  That's a start.  When you do plan on going to the track maybe you can send them an order a week to two in advance.  Have you asked your closest track to send you parts.  What are the alternatives?  Are there other racers in the same boat as you that live nearby?

 

Mrk



#17 Pablo

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 06:38 PM

My "closest track" doesn't send parts.

My JK selected "raceway source" is Chicagoland and that works fine for me.

I'm totally onboard with JK's decision.

 

I just wish everybody would understand not everybody has a "local track" and please stop speaking as if everyone has one.


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#18 Mattb

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 07:37 PM

Even if you have a local track, it doesn't mean they will stock the parts you want.   You want to build a car to race in one of their organized race series, they have all the parts.   You want a drag car they have all the parts.   You want a JK or a flexi?    Don't stock or sell them.   Want a forged motor bracket?   Don't carry them.   You want some kind of tires besides Protrack?   don't stock them.    That is ok,   I buy some of those parts for  fun racing me and my friends do.  Maybe nobody else would buy any of that, so it is stupid for the track to tie up money in stocking it.    I can get what they don't stock by mail order.   I need axles, guides, braids, I get it all locally and don't even ask the price.   I like living in the US and having a choice in a free economy.

 

Jim mentioned $20 track rental fees.   I don't think that is unrealistic.    You spend 3-4 hours at the track, that ought to be worth $30 or so.

You would pay $15 or so to watch a 2hr Hollywood movie that you probably would not recommend to a friend!    Might even spend $10 to get an additional 50 cents worth of popcorn and soft drink.       I think some people even go to coffee shops and pay $3 or $4 for a cup of coffee!

 

A lot of talk about keeping raceways healthy.   Maybe the problem is that track time is just too cheap.

 

Alan's track costs are very realistic.   Having a 4 lane Carrera track can be as much fun for friends as a trip to the big track.   With some thinking and careful spending a 60-80 foot 4 lane track can be built for under $2000.   If you want to rout a track, you can do it for less than that.   You can run 1/24 cars and enjoy the hobby which is what it is about.


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#19 Garry S

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 07:43 PM

Really.  No customer is obligated to purchase anything from anyone.  Period.  You can buy from anyone you want at any price you want, for any reason you want and you can put it on credit if you can't afford it.  In fact if your local track loses money it is not your problem.  Just don't be surprised when your local track closes. Or has it closed already?  How many tracks are left in Iowa?

Having a place to play with slot cars may become your problem, but on the bright side perhaps you  could sell your now useless slot car equipment on Ebay and help someone else close their local raceway.  Shooting yourself in the foot is also an option.

 

Most people do NOT buy their golf equipment at the golf course.  So they charge high dues and/or greens fees.  Plus some make you rent a cart.  How much do you want to pay for an hour of practice on a Blue King?

 

Don't get me wrong, I know many if not most people do mail slot car products for one reason or another.  I just wish I knew a valid reason why people do it.

 

There are no commercial tracks in Iowa, which is the main reason I installed my own 76ft Gerding 4 lane.  Between the track and cars/parts/accessories, I have over $10k invested.  That's how much I like slot car racing.  No, not everyone can afford to do that.

 

But by your logic, I shouldn't allow anyone to race on my track unless they buy their cars and parts from me!  I'm not going to do that, lol.

 

Private or "club" tracks - and there are a lot of them - are proof that this industry won't just curl up and die for lack of commercial tracks.  The remaining commercial raceways need to change with the times, and adopt business models and pricing that will keep them in business.  They don't need to rely on "charity" from racers, and racers shouldn't feel obligated to buy from only one local source.  

 

I'm sorry to be so harsh, but these are the cold facts.  If raceways aren't profitable without "props", they WILL die.  Private tracks will survive, and there's enough parts out there to keep us old guys busy 'til WE die.  

 

I hope slot car racing survives long after my lifetime, but I'm confident that complaining about who buys what from whom won't help.  We need actual businessmen who understand profit/loss and are willing to cast aside antiquated ideas and promote the industry.  If this means higher track prices, home sets, franchising, or whatever, it will have to be done.   


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#20 Phil Hackett

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 07:59 PM

"Most people do NOT buy their golf equipment at the golf course.  So they charge high dues and/or greens fees.  Plus some make you rent a cart.  How much do you want to pay for an hour of practice on a Blue King?"   :laugh2: How about a $20 minimum?
 
And this why golf courses seem to be a more viable business than slot car raceways.
They assume that regardless of where the equipment came from, it has to be used at the golf course...and they make sure they profit from their monopoly.
 
Raceways have been proving over and over since the Sixties that you can't pay the rent by having cheap track time, races 2 days a week and selling cars and parts for those races.
 
In actuality, the tracks themselves are the only thing we have exclusivity on and yet many of our customers think that because they own cars they should get to play for free or even be paid to race, (by winning prizes).
 
This is so much fun, why should one have to pay? :dash2: 

 
Many golf courses are subsidized by local gov'ments. Slot car tracks should be so lucky.
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#21 Pablo

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 08:15 PM

Nothing wrong with mail order, Mark Crowley. I think we are on the same side.

Unfortunately you fail to acknowledge there are people in this hobby who do not have access to what you lovingly refer to as a "local track".

 

JK hasn't killed "mail order" at all - it has simply taken a step to re-define and improve it.

When I mail order a part now, a genuine raceway owner gets a part of the profit.

 

Isn't that what we all want, raceways to profit?

So, why badmouth "mail order"? :diablo:


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#22 Phil Hackett

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 08:21 PM

The reason slot car tracks are having problems goes beyond "mail order" (really, when was the last time you wrote the order on a piece of paper and MAILED it?). The cost of commerical rents//leases, power bills, insurance, just plain living for the propietor and any employees amongst other expenses has out paced sales and profits. The demographics have changed. The culture has changed.

 

Everything has changed yet we all pine for days that passed by 50 years ago and pretend that "only if this or that would be done" there'd be 3000 slot car tracks suddenly opening acoss the USA.

 

In 1968 I remember the manager of Revell Raceway complaining of mail order sales and how it was killing the sales at the track. (Point of irony here is that Revell cars/parts and acessories were *all* available from mail order....Revell was obvisiously selling the parts to the mail order companies). So, now 50 years later it's discovered that mail order is the death of commercial slot car tracks despite the major changes in culture/leisure time activities/demographics/ and prestige. Sure, let's keep pounding the same mantra that mail order is *the* evil in our industry and ignore the really big reasons that no one can control.

 

It all a niche business and as a niche business it will have it's ups and downs, there are no anchors.


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#23 Mark Crowley

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 09:35 PM

But by your logic, I shouldn't allow anyone to race on my track unless they buy their cars and parts from me!  I'm not going to do that, lol.

Not at all.  My intent is simple.  By my logic you would not have to buy a track yourself if the racers had adequately supported the track voluntarily.  You should want the track to stay open.  How or if you help is your call.  I am willing to help however I can.

From your perspective lets say you are the only music store in town.  Everyone is town buys their instruments from Amazon and would then bring them to you for adjustment.  Or say a customer visits your store to test different instruments and then buys the one he wants online because it is cheaper and they don't have to pay tax.  This is why local businesses are important.  You and your store provide added value to the instruments but these people go for the immediate reward of lower price.  They may regret their choice in the long run when they need another instrument or want to trade in and your store is no longer open.  It sounds like you are a good businessman and currently offer value that people are willing to pay.  You have probably also adapted.  How do tracks adapt?

Hopefully we can keep commercial tracks alive for a little bit longer.

Mrk



#24 Mark Crowley

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 10:03 PM

Nothing wrong with mail order, Mark Crowley. I think we are on the same side.

Unfortunately you fail to acknowledge there are people in this hobby who do not have access to what you lovingly refer to as a "local track".

 

JK hasn't killed "mail order" at all - it has simply taken a step to re-define and improve it.

When I mail order a part now, a genuine raceway owner gets a part of the profit.

 

Isn't that what we all want, raceways to profit?

So, why badmouth "mail order"? :diablo:

We are on the same side.  I like slot cars and you like slot cars and we hope it continues.

We agree that mail order that helps a track is good and buying direct from a track is even better.  This is exactly what JK-Tim is now providing.

 

I know how lucky I am to have a close local track with great owners.  I was into slot cars in the 60's and the track we could ride our bike to closed.  I got back into slots in the 80's when a track opened a few miles away.  That track started to emphasize RC and let slots slide.  If my local track closes and I probably would not travel 6 hours to a nearby track.\

 

Why don't you move to Kansas City?

 

Mrk



#25 Garry S

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 10:49 PM

Not at all.  My intent is simple.  By my logic you would not have to buy a track yourself if the racers had adequately supported the track voluntarily.  You should want the track to stay open.  How or if you help is your call.  I am willing to help however I can.

From your perspective lets say you are the only music store in town.  Everyone is town buys their instruments from Amazon and would then bring them to you for adjustment.  Or say a customer visits your store to test different instruments and then buys the one he wants online because it is cheaper and they don't have to pay tax.  This is why local businesses are important.  You and your store provide added value to the instruments but these people go for the immediate reward of lower price.  They may regret their choice in the long run when they need another instrument or want to trade in and your store is no longer open.  It sounds like you are a good businessman and currently offer value that people are willing to pay.  You have probably also adapted.  How do tracks adapt?

Hopefully we can keep commercial tracks alive for a little bit longer.

Mrk

Actually, my installing a track in my home was not motivated by the lack of commercial tracks, but I am probably the exception.  I expect there are other private track owners who DO live near a commercial track, though.

 

The music business is a good comparison, and much of what you describe does take place.  Here's how we have adapted:

 

We aren't an authorized dealer for any name brand, thus we avoid the stocking requirements and the "test players" that try out instruments at dealers then buy online.

 

We do have customers who buy Amazon instruments and other ISOs (instrument shaped objects), and we will gladly provide repair for these (at customers expense).  Our competition will not, they will only service what they sell.  We also aggressively explain the differences between these cheap instruments and good ones, both through direct customer education and intense involvement with the schools.

 

Our income is balanced between four divisions:

 

1.  Retail sales, including some readily available "lesser" name brand guitars, and many used band and stringed instruments reconditioned by our shop, as well as parts, books and accessories.

 

2.  Instrument repair, mainly band instruments brought in by schools and individuals.  Most of these were not purchased from us!

 

3.  Band instrument rental, which is brokered through a national agency.  This also gives us access (virtually never used) to dealer prices on name brand instruments.  

 

4.  Lessons, for all band instruments, guitar, bass, drums, violin, banjo, ukulele, etc.

 

Our "competition" is traditional music stores that are burdened by huge inventories of brand name instruments, and they must follow the dictates of those dealer agreements, i.e. buy 20 $300 guitars that will sell in one month and get saddled with 3 $2000 guitars that will take 2 years to sell, if you ever can lol.  Their business is not their own...

 

But this is still not a recipe for success in the music industry, it is merely a strategy.  One crucial ingredient must be added: CUSTOMER SERVICE!  All of our technicians, salesmen, and instructors are 100% dedicated to "spreading the music", because we sincerely believe that music changes lives for the better.  

 

You have to educate the customer where you can, and adapt where you can't.  We don't sell price, we sell value, and this is the critical difference. If you don't believe in value (and have the passion and skills to sell it), all you have left is price - and the big guys will always beat you on that field.   


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Garry Stoner





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