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Guitar Center circles the drain Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 4th March 2014
  #1
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Guitar Center circles the drain

Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture Music Production Blog

I think what Bobby has outlined has already happened. Very poor inventory has been a recent development in most of the stores here in LA.

We will see if Ares knows how to run a retail shop.
Old 4th March 2014
  #2
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Not surprised about GC, where I am the employees had no personality and were inept.
Old 4th March 2014
  #3
I always found that you just had to try to find the guy(s)/gal(s) who knew what they were doing and weren't afraid to cut a deal. But others... well...

Still, it's going to create a huge hole when it goes, if it goes.

One thing that's clear, the holding company that bought it, Bain Capital (yes, that Bain Capital) would appear to be totally incompetent. They bought a thriving concern and have presided over its near-destruction. They like to talk about 'creative destruction' (that is, cutting the 'fat,' increasing productivity, etc) but there's nothing creative -- or at all positive -- that I can see about this destruction.
Old 4th March 2014
  #4
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Though there are a few really good Guitar Centers, this does not surprise me. The employee's have rarely been good at most locations but I find they have gotten way worse. Some quite literally cannot answer questions in the Pro Audio section because they have such a limited knowledge that they can't even BS there way through it. I have noticed that their selection has dwindled down to only large brands and mostly low end equipment. I don't shop there anymore because there is nothing for me to buy. I don't need a bunch of $50-500 products.

I have also noticed how little people are in the store, both employees and customers. I believe they had about 6 people in Pro Audio during busy times but now there are only 2.

I am not the biggest fan of Guitar Center but it will surely be missed by me if it does go under. I would hope that it would encourage some mom and pop shops to show up but the Guitar shops in my area closed a long time ago.
Old 5th March 2014
  #5
If they do end up shuttering it, Fender is in super-mega-big trouble...
Old 5th March 2014
  #6
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If they can hang on until the interstate sales tax breaks get legislated away and brick 'n' mortar makes sense again, they'll be sitting very pretty. Big if.
Old 5th March 2014
  #7
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I think blaming the employees is kind of tacky. Sure, they could have been more knowledgable, I guess, then again we all have access to the internet so we really should be able to do our own research in most cases. Do we really want the overhead of an entire staff of incredibly knowledgable people or do we want to look **** up on the internet and just ask someone where in the store it actually is?

I think we will see the return of mom and pop, simply because the big box model is proving to be a liability in the internet age over and over again.

But was it this time? Or did Bain Capital simply suck another business dry? We might not know for a while. But regardless, it wasn't the guy in the pro audio department's fault.
Old 5th March 2014
  #8
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Bain's got a track record of buying and dismantling for profits. They have put a lot of people out of work and will likely continue down that path. I'm sure many were aware of that when Romney ran for president. While he was saying the buzz words of growth and employment, his prior actions through Bain did the opposite. Hopefully it was a main reason people didn't vote for him.

It's a shame we have a structure in place that allows these parasite companies to hurt so many working class people.
Old 5th March 2014
  #9
I hear this whole deal will be concluded as soon as Ares Capital can get Bain to accept the coupon they're trying to redeem against the entire chain.
Old 5th March 2014
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whitecat View Post
I hear this whole deal will be concluded as soon as Ares Capital can get Bain to accept the coupon they're trying to redeem against the entire chain.
Funny.

The stipulation would be a maximum of 15% off and it doesn't apply to used gear or other already discounted items.
Old 5th March 2014
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldone View Post
Funny.

... it doesn't apply to used gear or other already discounted items.
Nor to certain manufacturers who have chosen not to participate in this promotion. Which is to say… all of them.
Old 5th March 2014
  #12
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well, there is always MARS Music.... um, no, wait, uh.... hmmmm
Old 5th March 2014
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Mal View Post
I think blaming the employees is kind of tacky. Sure, they could have been more knowledgable, I guess, then again we all have access to the internet so we really should be able to do our own research in most cases. Do we really want the overhead of an entire staff of incredibly knowledgable people or do we want to look **** up on the internet and just ask someone where in the store it actually is?
To me, I think poorly trained employees is a fundamental flaw in the business model. I don't think it's the fault of the singular person, I think it's the flaw of the chain. If I buy a new cell phone or a computer, I don't expect to get some ultra knowledgeable sales person but I do expect them to know enough to answer my concerns or give me some guidance. I don't see why a store like this would be different.
Old 5th March 2014
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3rd Degree View Post
To me, I think poorly trained employees is a fundamental flaw in the business model. I don't think it's the fault of the singular person, I think it's the flaw of the chain. If I buy a new cell phone or a computer, I don't expect to get some ultra knowledgeable sales person but I do expect them to know enough to answer my concerns or give me some guidance. I don't see why a store like this would be different.
I'd LIKE to expect that.

I actually had much better luck at GC on that count than at most places.

I mean, try getting accurate info from one of the blue-shirted drones at a Best Buy... LOL I think they have a test that excludes anyone who knows anything about electronics or appliances -- that knowledge might prove inconvenient or counterproductive with regard to the effort of selling $.25 USB cables for $25.
Old 5th March 2014
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3rd Degree View Post
To me, I think poorly trained employees is a fundamental flaw in the business model. I don't think it's the fault of the singular person, I think it's the flaw of the chain. If I buy a new cell phone or a computer, I don't expect to get some ultra knowledgeable sales person but I do expect them to know enough to answer my concerns or give me some guidance. I don't see why a store like this would be different.
I suppose. But, I mean, you get what you pay for... you want a staff with a lot of knowledge? Then everything costs more. There's just not two ways about it.

You want a staff that can find things in the store, ring up a sale, and answer basic questions? Then you have to do the research yourself.

That's how I view it. I always thought it was funny, all the threads about people walking into Guitar Center and asking questions. I never had to ask any, and you all know me, I've been posting here for years- I'm no genius. But I know how to work the Bing machine.

There are also other resources... like this website. Either way, the guy at Guitar Center with the lip ring never needed to educate me about much, I don't even know what he ever knew about anything, actually.

It's all moot. I predict that Guitar Center will not be what it was, big box retailing of all kinds won't be what it was, and we can let that kid get back to his bong for a while.
Old 5th March 2014
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Mal View Post
I suppose. But, I mean, you get what you pay for... you want a staff with a lot of knowledge? Then everything costs more. There's just not two ways about it.

You want a staff that can find things in the store, ring up a sale, and answer basic questions? Then you have to do the research yourself.

That's how I view it. I always thought it was funny, all the threads about people walking into Guitar Center and asking questions. I never had to ask any, and you all know me, I've been posting here for years- I'm no genius. But I know how to work the Bing machine.

There are also other resources... like this website. Either way, the guy at Guitar Center with the lip ring never needed to educate me about much, I don't even know what he ever knew about anything, actually.

It's all moot. I predict that Guitar Center will not be what it was, big box retailing of all kinds won't be what it was, and we can let that kid get back to his bong for a while.
An educated market demands and rewards marketing and sales personnel who know what they're doing.

However, if you are selling to a naive and unknowledgeable market, the job can be done by any old warm bodies -- or at least that seems the perception from those calling the shots.
Old 5th March 2014
  #17
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the worst/best thing about GC is the poorly trained staff.
You'd expect a "center for guitar" would have register folks to know what a guitar nut is, and where to find one on the wall.
But they don't.
On the other hand, they are usually friendly and won't waste your whole day wanting talk shop in order to up-sale, like most "pro" shops.

At this point, might as well just hire a security guard at the door and let people do self checkout.
Old 5th March 2014
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 21doors View Post
At this point, might as well just hire a security guard at the door and let people do self checkout.
Honestly, that would be quite nice. 90% of the time, the items I buy are in the back, or in a case. I may have to wait quite a while to just get someone to get me what I need when I have absolutely no questions about it, know exactly what I am going to buy, and don't care to see anything else.
Old 5th March 2014
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Mal View Post
I suppose. But, I mean, you get what you pay for... you want a staff with a lot of knowledge? Then everything costs more. There's just not two ways about it.
I actually don't mind paying more if someone is extremely educated. I don't think what I consider an acceptable amount of training/knowledge would be at the level some people may be thinking.

For example, I got hired at a little mom and pop sporting goods store when they started selling skateboards. They hired me because I knew about skateboards but that was about 5% of my job. I mostly sold things like swim goggles, bathing suits, hiking shoes, etc. I was educated on what to recommend for what application. I didn't actually know anything, I just was trained by someone who did know something as to what to recommend. I knew the technical reasons, was able to cater to them, even though I didn't have any real interest or passion for it. Honestly, the only time we got returns was when people went against the advice I made. All the rich moms would buy something we carried for college athletes, trying to give their 8 year old kid a leg up on the competition without realizing how much different it was from a practicality standpoint.

I was with a friend buying a low end interface. I am not all that familiar with the current low end interfaces and my friend didn't know exactly what he needed. The guy knew absolutely nothing about them. He said things like "I think that one lets you record more stuff but I am not sure". I would think that would be something you could train something on. Much less up sell newer technology, like "the advantage of this interface is it's USB 3.0 so you will likely get less latency than some other interfaces you are looking at".

I don't think that would take a whole lot of work to train someone on the basics. I also think they would sell more if they could even go of product specs. I would never expect someone who has very good knowledge to work at a big box facility, though in the past, there were some very knowledgeable people in Guitar Center. Not all of them were, but the managers were.

Again, I am not actually complaining about the employees at all. If you get hired for a job and don't get trained, which is what seems like happens, I don't put the blame on the employee.
Old 6th March 2014
  #20
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Guitar Center is a joke! I walked down the hall to go to the bathroom at the ABQ store recently. Lining the walls were these posters of bands from the past, most of which don't exist anymore. A lot of the musicians are dead and those that aren't are elderly! Who are are they trying to sell to? Senior Citizen Rockers?

They really don't stock anything that I'm interested in. Do they have the Eventide Space? Nope! Do they have the Korg MS-20 mini? Nope! But they'll order it for you! If I wanted to order something I'd do it from home...where I don't have to drive anywhere!

The only reason that I go there is for the used gear...and even that is barely worth it!
Old 6th March 2014
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Mal View Post
I suppose. But, I mean, you get what you pay for... you want a staff with a lot of knowledge? Then everything costs more. There's just not two ways about it.

You want a staff that can find things in the store, ring up a sale, and answer basic questions? Then you have to do the research yourself.

That's how I view it. I always thought it was funny, all the threads about people walking into Guitar Center and asking questions. I never had to ask any, and you all know me, I've been posting here for years- I'm no genius. But I know how to work the Bing machine.

There are also other resources... like this website. Either way, the guy at Guitar Center with the lip ring never needed to educate me about much, I don't even know what he ever knew about anything, actually.

It's all moot. I predict that Guitar Center will not be what it was, big box retailing of all kinds won't be what it was, and we can let that kid get back to his bong for a while.
I disagree. When GC opened their stores here in the Cleveland area they had a good selection of pro oriented equipment and they hired employees who knew something about what they were selling. A while back they got rid of all those employees who knew anything and filled up the stores with people sporting a lot of hardware and tattoos and who looked like they had just gotten out of drug or alcohol rehab. At the same time all the good equipment went away to be replaced with low end high profit equipment. I don't know if this was at the same time Bain came into the picture or not.

I am very lucky that the manager and the pro-audio salesman are both pros in the store that I go to and are willing to work with me to get me what I need.

If I need pro equipment I still go to Sweetwater or one of the other more pro places to buy it since GC seems to think that Behringer = pro-audio and I have to disagree.

As to what will happen to the market place if they go away is anyone's guess.

FWIW
Old 6th March 2014
  #22
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Sweetwater also sells Behringer. They are making really cool stuff since the Midas purchase.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
I disagree. When GC opened their stores here in the Cleveland area they had a good selection of pro oriented equipment and they hired employees who knew something about what they were selling A while back they got rid of all those employees who knew anything and filled up the stores with people sporting a lot of hardware and tattoos and who looked like they had just gotten out of drug or alcohol rehab. At the same time all the good equipment went away to be replaced with low end high profit equipment. I don't know if this was at the same time Bain came into the picture or not.

I am very lucky that the manager and the pro-audio salesman are both pros in the store that I go to and are willing to work with me to get me what I need.

If I need pro equipment I still go to Sweetwater or one of the other more pro places to buy it since GC seems to think that Behringer = pro-audio and I have to disagree.

As to what will happen to the market place if they go away is anyone's guess.

FWIW
Old 6th March 2014
  #23
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Guitar center?How about the arts and culture in America is circling the bowl.Hey big corporate leverage buyout guys..BAIN and Ares.How about getting music back in public schools so kids can have something to learn besides counting beans?You can get huge tax deductions for your donations to education beside deducting your debts against huge profits in the stock market.
Old 7th March 2014
  #24
I don't expect the employees of a company like this to really understand any aspect of music or sound production. The Guitar Center near me gave access to a mix of current equipment and allowed customers to play with it. For as long as I've been alive, that's about the best you can expect from a music store. Anybody who walked in and bought on the basis of employee recommendation was what we should call a "rube". Guitar Center, Sam Ash, even Manny's, this was understood.

On the other hand, stores that have people who do understand music or sound production are to be avoided, if your aim is to get a good price. You can't walk out of one of those retailers without having paid far too much for something "boutique" that you will try to justify to the end of your life.

The problem with Guitar Center could be Bain Capital, as others have said, or it could be the internet. Enough people are willing to buy a guitar, or an amplifier, or nearfield monitors, without ever having heard what they sound like, based on what they see in sites like this one. I'm one of them. I never expected I would be one of them.

But look at what I bought. I bought the Steinberg MR816X based on the reviews I saw mainly here at Gearslutz. Perfectly happy with it (my third interface btw). I bought Yamaha HS80M monitors without hearing them, and I love them (unbelievable price). (There isn't a store anywhere near here that would have had a bunch of compares. Even if I had found such a store, I would have been concerned about the "room" I was listening in, and not trusted my auditions.) I bought a Fender Custom Vibrolux Reverb online without hearing it (it was terrible) and what did I do? I traded it in at the local Guitar Center, after auditioning every amp they had, settling on an Egnater Rebel 30. But the value add of Guitar Center is that I played it for a long time in their showroom. (I am very satisfied with the Egnater).

Now the kicker is, I bought a guitar from an internet site, after playing it at Guitar Center. The guitar that was shipped to me was better (from the point of view of setup and wear) than the demo I played at Guitar Center. (The site is related to Guitar Center.)

Model of the future, then, is buy online, see if you like it, keep it if you do, send it back if you don't. It will be up to consumers to compare based on friends' purchases. It's not actually all that different from the model of the past, but it leaves local retailers out of the picture.
Old 7th March 2014
  #25
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All my business goes to Sweetwater. All hail the 3 payment plan.
Old 7th March 2014
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Early21 View Post
Model of the future, then, is buy online, see if you like it, keep it if you do, send it back if you don't. It will be up to consumers to compare based on friends' purchases. It's not actually all that different from the model of the past, but it leaves local retailers out of the picture.
Ironically, I find myself buying more online, without hearing something, purely due to the fact that GC has really "streamlined" their inventory around certain brands. I don't want to claim that they used to have a bunch of brands or where even close to their own online shop before, much less some other online stores but I have noticed they carry a lot less, at least in the Pro Audio section. I am the type who will always buy something in store, assuming the price difference isn't extremely different so I know what I am getting before purchase, I get it that day, and I can more easily return (pretty rare for me unless it is actually broken) but I know tend to buy more online.

In some ways, I feel like Guitar Center is pushing me to buy online and though there online shop is pretty extensive, it instantly gets me to check out their competition. I don't know if this hurts there bottom line but I am just saying, you have me in the store so you may as well carry a larger percent of what you offer online.

To go along with that, they also have way less things to demo. About the only thing you can compare in the Pro Audio section is speakers. Ironically though, most of the time when they have a great deal on a set of monitors, they don't have one setup for demo. My guitar center will not take one out of the box to let you hear it. Everything else they have for demo are usually the things you wouldn't hesitate to buy without demoing them. So I can demo cheap interfaces and MIDI controllers but I can't demo any mics, preamps, or other things that having to do with recording or outboard processing. I am not saying it would even be the best way to compare, given the room, level of noise, and other variables, but again, it kind of makes me scratch my head. It would be quite simple to put in a little rack with a patchbay and some sort of easy demo setup.
Old 7th March 2014
  #27
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Does anyone know if Best Buy is related to Guitar Center or is it a competitor ? I went into a Best Buy store once, and saw tons of really cheap stuff in the small music department, with 4-5 high pressure salesmen acting like hungry vultures.

I prefer the non-chain family run stores.
Old 7th March 2014
  #28
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Best Buy was a competitor to Guitar Center, but they didn't stay in that market for long.
Old 7th March 2014
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duardo View Post
Best Buy was a competitor to Guitar Center, but they didn't stay in that market for long.
Some didn't even carry the stuff. I was surprised to see music stuff when I went to another Best Buy as my local one is pretty big.
Old 7th March 2014
  #30
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Yeah, as I recall they did it as a sort of experiment, and only did it in certain stores. The experiment did not go well.
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