Guitar Center files Bankruptcy.


mjgodin
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Saw this on my news feed this morning. Looks like the days of the big chain realtors is nearing an end. Hopefully it's just a restructure. I enjoy shopping there. Like a kid in a candy store.

https://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/us-retailer-guitar-center-files-for-bankruptcyhttps://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/us-retailer-guitar-center-files-for-bankruptcy


# 1
faith83
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I expect it fell victim to the same thing as Borders -- people using it as a showroom, then ordering online for a lower price. I confess to having done that a time or two.


"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

# 2
mjgodin
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True, I've done it as well and the funny thing is I actually bought my two guitars at different dealers cause I felt the customer service was better than GC's. I did buy an amp there though and was thinking of a modelling amp for my electric as a xmas gift to myself. They are currently running some great deals on them as I keep getting mailers and now I know why. I know Sweetwater has some great deals as well, but it's great to go into a store and immerse yourself in a sea of guitars. The smaller shops just don't have that atmosphere.


# 3
faith83
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Yeah, this seems problematic. Much harder to buy a guitar sight unseen than a book. And the smaller shops don't have the selection, .I was uncomfortably aware of that when I bought my new guitar a few weeks ago -- realizing that even as I was handing over my credit card, there were other fish in the sea that I didn't get to try out first.

The article sounds like it's a restructure.

Someone needs to do a Warby Parker thing -- some kind of an easy try-it bundle where you pick three guitars that are shipped to you along with an easy way to send the ones you don't choose back.


"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

# 4
moosehockey18
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Joined: 02/02/20
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Originally Posted by: mjgodin

Saw this on my news feed this morning. Looks like the days of the big chain realtors is nearing an end. Hopefully it's just a restructure. I enjoy shopping there. Like a kid in a candy store.

https://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/us-retailer-guitar-center-files-for-bankruptcyhttps://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/us-retailer-guitar-center-files-for-bankruptcy

Yes, you`re right that the concept of the "superstore" is slowly becoming extinct. I do have to confess, not only have I never been in a GC store, I didn`t even know they existed ! I deal with a few small shops in my area here in central NH. Just curious as to where the nearest GC store is. Might have to check it out if not too far.

My all time favorite guitar store is N`stuff music in Pittsburgh Pa., where I`m originally from. I ALWAYS make it a point to stop there when I go back to visit family. If you`re ever in that area, it`s worth a stop. It doesn`t look like much from the outside, but once inside there are room after room of acoustics, electrics and other fretted instruments along with just about every type of accessory you can think of. Everyone who works there plays and knows their inventory inside and out. They have great lesson programs both remote and in house ( now just remote due to the pandemic) as well as a fully equipped performance venue right next door where musicians can play to a small audience ( or just rehearse) that can be rented out. I believe you can rent instruments and other equipment as well. They thread the needle; large enough to carry a good inventory but yet intimate and responsive to the musician`s needs. Their website is nstuffmusic.com. Of course, there is something to be said for the small shop as well. There`s a nice, small and funky shop 10 minutes from my house that`s been around since 1970. That`s where I got my acoustic.


# 5
mjgodin
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There is a GC in Manchester. That would be the closest to you. The whole situation reminds me of Daddy's Junky Music. They were the big chain although, not as big as GC from my earlier playing days. I used to go to the one in Salem near the Mass border. Loved that place.

Like Faith says this could just be a restructuring and nothing drastic has happened yet. Time will tell. This second wave of the pandemic is not helping.


# 6
john of MT
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For some years, boomers have been a big part of guitar sales, at least in the U.S.. Then came the year of quarantine and guitar sales shot up markedly, worldwide from what I read. We've seen evidence of that in the GT forum with all the posts/comments by new members. Just last week there was a statement from the Fender CEO saying things looked dark before the pandemic and now their sales are at record levels, +17% from last year.

Add that to past stories I've read criticizing Guitar Center stores for lack of inventory, poor staff expertise and customer support, and the overall condition and cleanliness of the stores. Having never been in one (you know...western Montana ) I didn't know what to make of the stories and wondered if it was individual stores that were bringing down the chain's reputation.

A telling clue, I think, is that in this guitar boom time, Guitar Center couldn't make it as it currently operates. Significantly, Guitar Center closed most of their 300 stores this year because of the pandemic. Their sales shifted to their e-commerce channels but I think the fact remains that ya' can't make much money if your retail model is based on brick and mortar stores and your stores are closed... no matter how bright and clean the store and its workers are.


"It takes a lot of devotion and work, or maybe I should say play, because if you love it, that's what it amounts to. I haven't found any shortcuts, and I've been looking for a long time."
-- Chet Atkins
# 7
William MG
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I'm pretty sure this has been coming for a long time. I remember Brad from The Guitarologist talking about them being in trouble long before Covid.

https://youtu.be/0lNUez1JfYs


# 8
martintaylor2002
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One of the biggest problems with GC is they sell guitar a full price. When I was shopping for a Martin D-42 last year, I went to GC and they charged me full price for a D-42. I went online and found both Maury music and Wilcut and got the exact same brand new Martin D-42 for 33% off the price that I would have paid at GC. When I was looking for Elixir strings at GC store, they are about 40% higher than I would have gotten from Sweetwater.

GC is pretty much like Borders and Barnes and Nobles. It will die from thousands cut. The business model is not sustainable, IMHO.

The new business model is to have a very small showroom where customers can go there and try out new products and purchase them online or through the store kios. Do it the same way like an Apple store. Apple is making a killing....


# 9
faith83
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Originally Posted by: martintaylor2002

One of the biggest problems with GC is they sell guitar a full price. When I was shopping for a Martin D-42 last year, I went to GC and they charged me full price for a D-42. I went online and found both Maury music and Wilcut and got the exact same brand new Martin D-42 for 33% off the price that I would have paid at GC. When I was looking for Elixir strings at GC store, they are about 40% higher than I would have gotten from Sweetwater.

GC is pretty much like Borders and Barnes and Nobles. It will die from thousands cut. The business model is not sustainable, IMHO.

The new business model is to have a very small showroom where customers can go there and try out new products and purchase them online or through the store kios. Do it the same way like an Apple store. Apple is making a killing....

Agreed. Covid may have been the final nail, but they've been in the coffin for awhile now. I do think local music stores of the kind described above will stay, for the community of it, like indie bookstores (which are actually making a comeback).

It's possible Guitar Center could use the Best Buy model, which seems to have saved them. I'm not sure what that is, though -- I recall reading that Best Buy did some things differently than the other big box electronics stores that allowed them to survive/thrive, but I don't recall what they were specifically.


"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

# 10
JeffS65
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Like others here, my perspective is my observation of Guitar Center.

Though I think there is a valid point with regard to knowledge of the staff and that is very much true, for me it was inventory. I'm usually pretty sure what I need to know before I go. I mean, I have purchased two guitars from GC locations (my Taylor acoustic and my Gibson Les Paul...which was on a really deep sale price).

While I do get that you can't be all things to all people, I find that most GC locations I've been to are just underwhelming. When you walk in the door, you see the $149 beginner package. Even though most folks walking in the door won't be buying a $2000 Les Paul, there is something aspirational with guitars. We all have different aspirations but GC sells guitars but the do poorly selling the dream.

Though I don't know the financial postion of Chicago Music Exchange (CME), that place totally sells the dream. If ever you're in Chicago on the north side, go there. No matter your vibe for guitars, you'll walk around with your mouth dragging. The picture below of me is a Gibson Les Paul goldtop that was one of the models on floor stands at CME (most guitars are wall hung). You can just grab and play an amazing guitar. GC? They have two Gibson Les Paul's and they are a mile high behind a counter. You feel like you need to know the secret handshake.

GC does not sell the 'wow' of guitars. I know to some people, that's not a big deal. Much the same way people look at a Mecedes and think all that extra cost is a waste. It's a very valid point.

No matter what you enjoy, most people want to attain the dream of whatever it is.

Guitar Center is selling not the dream but selling something below the dream, which is not very inspiring. Even though most guitars bought are not so-called premium guitars, much of the human condition is the drool factor. It's the 'I'd like to earn through my skill, the justification of owning a premium guitar'. That kind of thing.


# 11
faith83
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I agree, Jeff. I had similar experiences with the ones in LA, come ot think of it.

What you're describing re; Chicago Music Exchange reminds me of Samy's Camera in Hollywood....


"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

# 12
matonanjin2
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Joined: 08/11/17
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Originally Posted by: faith83

I expect it fell victim to the same thing as Borders -- people using it as a showroom, then ordering online for a lower price. I confess to having done that a time or two.

That may be part of it. And maybe part is when one goes guitar shopping he doesn't want to be called "Dude"!


[u]Guitars:[/u] 2014 PRS Santana, 2013 PRS Paul's, 2009 PRS Hollowbody, 1972 Gibson ES-325, 2012 Fender Strat American Standard, 2012 Yamaha Pacifica, Martin M-36, Martin 000-15M, Seagull S6 Classic[br][u]Amps:[/u] Fender Blues Junior III, Boss Eband JS-10, Line 6 POD 500X, Quilter Microblock 45

# 13
john of MT
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Here's a long story version, confirming almost everything posted above; How Guitar Center went from jukebox hero to latest pandemic bankruptcy https://www.retaildive.com/news/how-guitar-center-went-from-jukebox-hero-to-latest-pandemic-bankruptcy/589632/


"It takes a lot of devotion and work, or maybe I should say play, because if you love it, that's what it amounts to. I haven't found any shortcuts, and I've been looking for a long time."
-- Chet Atkins
# 14
faith83
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Thanks!

And yeah, including the "dude" thing mentioned above. As a woman, I always feel a little "stared at" in guitar stores. It's still a boy's club... I wish someone would figure out that they could market to guitars women in a less testosterone-infused atmosphere and do very well...


"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

# 15
mjgodin
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Interesting read. Thanks John.

My first time in a GC store I had not played yet. A guitar that was being loaned to me had no strings so I went there with the same trepidation as most first timers would have. Having not even played a single note in over thirty years my plan was to just get some strings and get out, but truth be told it was a very nice experience. Nobody rushed out and tried to pressure me into something I didn't need or want. I was able to just walk around freely and enjoy looking at all the beautiful instruments that I hope to someday purchase and play. I don't know if that was their business model, but I've always enjoyed just going in there and browsing. I still got another store not too far from me but they cater to a lot of professional musicians. THATS intimidating for a beginner to walk into. So like the article says this industry needs Guitar Center to stay aflout. Even if all they do is cater and inspire the young starters. Thats a good thing. Plus I think without the competition smaller stores will just jack up their prices on services to no end. I don't want to pay $80 for a truss rod adjustment.


# 16
moosehockey18
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Interesting points all. I`ve never even been in a GC store so I don`t have much to go on. How long have they been around ? Just seems to me that the concept of a guitar "superstore " is a bit of an oxymoron. To me, playing guitar is a personally intimate experience, so the idea of walking into a warehouse type setting to buy a guitar or guitar supplies seems a bit weird. That might work well with kitchen appliances or furniture, but not too sure in this case. Again, never been in a GC so someone correct me if I`m wrong.

BTW, Happy Thanksgiving to all.


# 17
mjgodin
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Well the history of GC is in the article John attached so I won't get into all that, but they are the biggest music store in the country and have been around since the 50's.

Some people like the personal approach and attention via smaller crafts stores and others like to immerse themselves to a larger level. Kinda like going to buy hockey skates at Walmart sporting good dept. and seeing maybe 5-10 skates on display or going to a Dicks Sporting Goods and seeing a wall of skates on display. It may not matter to you as an educated adult, but to a young child just getting into the sport which atmosphere is he gonna enjoy more? It's called the "Drool Factor" and I think that's what GC was going for.

That same methodology was used by Harley Davidson. If you went to one of their stores before year 2000 you were greeted by scruffy old tattood guys with oil stained t-shirts and if you did not look like them they would give you the look of "How dare you enter our world". Plus you had about 10 bikes to look at that were used because the only way you could buy a new one was to enter a lottery. Seriously, this is how it was back then. Then sometime around early 2000's the company changed their image. Gone were the dirty t-shirts and out came the boutique stores. Load the floor up with shiny new chromed out bikes and cool looking clothes adorned with Harley emblems galore and now you have the "Drool Factor". Bike sales soared through the roof even though some dealers inflated the prices way over MSRP. They couldn't even keep them on the floors long enough along with all the chrome accessories and T-shirts. Well it worked for a while, but now Harley is going through the same way as GC. Maybe not as bad, but their glory days are no longer.

It's really about different business trends for different times and it's a bigger testament as to where societies shopping trends go. Now online ordering is all the rage. While I do enjoy the convenience of online shopping, it doesn't compare to going into the stores and seeing and touching things. I mean guitar playing is a personal thing, but it's also a hobby and part of what makes a hobby fun is surrounding yourself with the products and people who use them right? Isn't that why were all on this forum? Because we have an interest and want to converse with others who share that interest? Speaking of which, I really should get back to practice. lol.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Moe


# 18
matonanjin2
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Posts: 357
Originally Posted by: faith83

Thanks!

And yeah, including the "dude" thing mentioned above. As a woman, I always feel a little "stared at" in guitar stores. It's still a boy's club... I wish someone would figure out that they could market to guitars women in a less testosterone-infused atmosphere and do very well...

Faith, I can't relate to the "construction site wolf whistle" mentality, of course. But whether it is that or my "dude thing" it reflects a total lack of respect and maturity in their sales force. The level of this is offensive. [br][br]

Years ago I had purchased a Fender Blues, Jr. 3 amp there. The reverb went out on it so I took it back theresome time later to see if they had ideas/could help me. Doing this (due to my health issues) is no minor undertaking. My wonderful wife carried it to the car for me. We got there and she parked at the car at the curb in front of the store. I thought I could get it from the car inside. Struggling, I did manage to do so. Obviously struggling, I am met by a kid with an annoying smirk who was clearly enjoying said struggling, "We don't work on amps."

Me, "I know that but a couple years ago, I brought it in for the same thing, the Reverb was out, and someone helped me."

Kid, maintaining annoying smirk, "We don't work on amps".

Me, "I said I know that. But a nice guy named Erin fixed it for me. Is he here?"

Kid, "Erin no longer works here. We don't work on amps."

Fortunately, we are a society of laws. And, also fortunately, I considered the consequences of the different ways I was considering removing his smirk.

Not very long after that I decided I was going to purchase my first PRS. My wife and I were having lunch and I announced this. But the locally owned store in town is not a dealer. A while later she shows me her phone displaying the local GC inventory of PRS guitars. If you could appreciate what a technological feat this was for my wife you would be suitably impressed! Even though, after the reverb/amp incident, I said I would never return to Guitar Center, we finished lunch and off to the local Guitar Center. But not before my wife announces that it's our anniversary so if I find something I like it would be her gift. I pay the lunch tab in a hurry!

We get to GC, walk in, and a kid is walking by. Me:, "Can you tell me where the PRS guitars are?". Kid, without slowing his step the least amount, "Yeah. They're on that wall", pointing in the general direction of North, and he then disappears.

I wait and wait and finally another GC employee shows up and I ask him the same question. His response, "Let me get someone to help you". That someone never showed. At this point I seriously considered standing on an amp and shouting, "If someone will help me you will get the sales credit for an expensive guitar!". I didn't.

Instead, we took the time to drive from Omaha to Council Bluffs, to the only PRS dealer in the metro area and I bought my first PRS.


[u]Guitars:[/u] 2014 PRS Santana, 2013 PRS Paul's, 2009 PRS Hollowbody, 1972 Gibson ES-325, 2012 Fender Strat American Standard, 2012 Yamaha Pacifica, Martin M-36, Martin 000-15M, Seagull S6 Classic[br][u]Amps:[/u] Fender Blues Junior III, Boss Eband JS-10, Line 6 POD 500X, Quilter Microblock 45

# 19