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Has Owning an MI Store Met Your Expectations?

Music Inc. recently caught up with several new music store owners who’ve been in business five years or less. We asked them whether owning a dealership and being in the MI industry has met their expectations. Highlights:

Anthony Mantova
Mantova’s Two Street Music; Eureka, Calif.
I would say the music retail business is harder than I’d anticipated. Of course, I’m rebuilding a business that was approaching bankruptcy before we took over. We’ve had to rebuild our inventory from scratch, re-enter talks with manufacturing lines, renovate and put in labor to make our innovations happen — and, of course, create a premium shopping experience for our customers. I prefer to think of the store as needing a lot of work so that someday the music retail experience will be easier.

Peter Dods
Easy Music; Honolulu
I didn’t expect this to be easy, and it has not been. Anytime something happens quickly or with little pain or suffering, I am always shocked. While the work involved is up to par with what I had anticipated, I did not anticipate having so much fun in the process. I didn’t think we would grow this quickly. I didn’t know that it would be possible to grow this business to the stage where I could take a step back from it, as I have recently.

 I didn’t know it would be so difficult to get vendors who I was not doing business with to accept me as a business partner. Acquiring new lines, even though we are the largest music store in the state of Hawaii, has been an arduous process.

Joe Summa
Greenwich Music; Riverside, Conn.
I think owning a store has been much more difficult than I’d envisioned it. Mainly because of the adjustments I’ve had to make in staffing, I’m doing a lot more than I was when I first owned the store. I don’t view that as necessarily a bad thing because I’m getting to know every aspect of the business — how it works and what needs to get done.

[Business in general] has been much harder than I’d expected it to be. But at the same time, I’m really starting to see where being an independent dealer and spending time with people and sort of befriending them can go a long way.

Phillip Jordan
RedPhish Music; Wilson, N.C.
Obviously, when I started this business back in 2006, none of us foresaw the economic adventure coming. So, I guess I [didn’t expect] the whole work-twice-as-hard-to-do-the-same-sales dilemma that everyone has ended up in, from the manufacturer down to the sales floor. I did expect service and attention to customer wants and needs to be a key to success. I thought there was a market for that, and it’s turned out to be the case.

Steve Delaney
The Laboratory, Deptford, N.J.
Business started off surprisingly robust [when we opened in 2007]. In light of the downturn economically, it’s ground down to something a little more like I’d anticipated. Our high-end retail sales are languishing, but our music lessons are doing better than ever. We’ve begun a process of evaluating all of our expenses and making hard decisions about cutting our costs. We’ve had to reduce staff. We also condensed our size a little bit. And that actually ended up improving the overall look of the shop. It looks explosively full of gear.