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Tobias Gets a Facelift

Tobias Music completed a showroom makeover and expansion in March.

The project, which began in late October 2011, tripled the Downers Grove, Ill., guitar shop's space to roughly 1,600 square feet.

Tobias now has two connected showrooms. The old showroom features new carpeting and drapes, and the front door has been moved to make more room for accessories. The shop's new and much larger section boasts wood paneling, track lighting, a couch and, in the back corner, a bar, where patrons can learn about Taylor Guitars' Build to Order program on a flat-screen television.

According to company owner Paul Tobias, installing a new fire alarm system was one-third of the project's expense. A bustling 2011 holiday season, along with what Tobias called "a little bit of financing" from a bank, helped pay for the project.

"[The banker] said that when a business expands, the biggest chunk of its budget is usually inventory for the new space," he said. "That's one thing we didn't have to do: order extra guitars. We had plenty."

In fact, much of the shop's stock is kept in back. To help customers view inventory, Tobias recently began photographing each guitar and showing them to patrons on an iPad.

"We're photographing everything, front and back," he said. "If you want to see our inventory, we're going to scroll through an iPad, almost like a wine menu.

Inside Tobias Music's redesigned and expanded showroom