In these difficult times there are still new retailers springing up, we take a look at six of the market's best new dealers...
The ongoing financial crisis shows little sign of loosening its grip on our industry, but in defiance of this clear deterrent, we’ve seen a healthy number of newcomers to MI retail arrive on the scene in the last year. Let’s take a look at some of the plucky new dealers who have made the hazardous step into music store ownership recently.
Founded by Gary Sharpe, former MD of leading North West retailer Sounds Great Music, the Manchester city centre store was officially opened back in March by none other than Johnny Marr, and has already gone on to develop a vast customer base from across the region and nationwide. Dealing primarily in guitars, providing highly desirable and lesser-seen brands such as Suhr and Duesenberg, Tone World, although new, offers over 50 years of combined experience.
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Another retailer that managed to bag a big name for its opening event – Paul Gilbert, this time – Supatone is Norwich’s new guitar and amp specialist. The store is run by a trio that includes the pair behind Norfolk Bass and Guitar Centre, and offers around 400 guitars in stock, vintage drums and various high-end amplifiers, including Marshall’s Joe Satriani and Slash models, as well as the Eden bass amp line.
DJ Tech Direct
After the liquidation of Hard to Find, Birmingham was left without a proper DJ and hi-tech retailer, but not for long. Although both prominent members of the Hard to Find team, Jamie O’ Callaghan and Owen Taylor returned to retail back in September with DJ Tech Direct, a business set up to offer the Midlands DJ community two physical retail outlets and a fully featured website. A Q&A with O’ Callaghan can be found on Page 60 of this issue.
South City Music
Owned by Adam Masters and Neil McDonald – both formerly of Academy of Sound, which then became Sound Control and later, PMT – Altrincham’s South City Music offers a wide variety of new and second hand instruments, including guitars, bass, amplification, effects, brass, woodwind and accessories, as well as a repairs service. The management team has revealed that well-established North West-based music stores A1, Johnny Roadhouse and Frailers were big influences on the business.
Stable Yard Music
Situated in the lush surroundings of Hatfield House, Stable Yard Music isn’t your normal music store. Its educational services may be its primary source of income, but Stable Yard’s instrumental offering certainly makes the journey to this quaint corner of Hertfordshire worthwhile. Created by Jon Starling – once of Music Stop, Cockfosters and Digital Village – the retailer has been steadily growing its reputation throughout the county and beyond through good use of social networking and event organising.
The Uke Store
Numerous retailers have understandably introduced a ukulele range in-store due to the ongoing craze, but Matt Lawless et al have gone one better by launching an entire online shop selling solely these instruments. Lawless has had success with a similar sector-specific approach – his other project, The Mic Store, has been a big hit – so with ukes continuing to outsell virtually every other type of instrument, the Uke Store team have good reason to feel confident about its future.