Awkward drum shop experience...

Stroman

Platinum Member
Bo, your assumption that the dealer could still make a profit on that stand isn't necessarily true, or at least isn't the whole picture. Some places will sell certain items at price that they cannot afford to do, day in and day out, just to make you happy and keep you as a customer. But it isn't really accurate to think they could do that all the time. A 5% margin won't cover your cost of doing business, normally, for a brick and mortar store.

Make no mistake, I look for good deals, too. But I also understand that, when the main driving factor in a purchase is price only, then service will suffer. Sadly, most people buy on price alone - think WalMart, not really known for outstanding service, but still an enormous retailer - and to be competitive, businesses cut labor costs. The reality is, you will not have consistently excellent service when you've bought the cheapest labor available.

I agree with the people who say that a person working retail shouldn't be rude to a customer. But I also know there are a lot of customers who deserve it. Among them, in my opinion, are people who waste the time of a retailer and use that retailer's investment when they have no intention of buying there. Also, there are customers who think that, because they have money to spend, they have no responsibility to treat the retailer respectfully. The "I have the money, and without me you are shit, so you have to do whatever I want and I can treat you however I want" mentality. In my opinion, this type is just a crappy human being - at least this aspect of their personality is crappy. To me, it's the adult version of the playground bully. Anyone who works retail has met this person. Unfortunately, retailers have to learn to let that stuff roll off their backs somewhat. But it's tough.
 

Andy@MIT

Senior Member
I disagree a bit here. My getting the stand for a good deal isn't my fault. There are actually shops on the internet that are selling for less in this case. The bigger picture is that my saving a few bucks on a stand gives me more elbow room to inject more of my money into the economy by being able to buy something else. If I paid the original $99 price, then that seriously cut into the money left over that I used to buy lunch for my wife and myself at another retail business who has people doing a job that sucks with a high turnover rate.
As I said, everyone is entitled to make their own purchasing decisions and I do not disagree with the logic you have presented, save for those internet retailers who choose to sell at low margins also have employees. Whether you buy that stand locally or from another state, you are still eating away at the profits which will likely ultimately go towards salary. Employee salaries and/or benefits (when they do exist) are by far the largest portion of overhead in running just about any business.

And regarding this high turnover rate that music retailers seem to be enjoying, after having worked for Guitar Center and a chain now dead, Goodman Music in California, the problem isn't the customers, it's the people they attract into the job. For years music instrument prices were negotiable, and the people attracted to this job were not sales-minded people, but the musician-dreamers we all are. We all want to be cool - so how cool is it to get to go a job where you get to play with stuff you intend to own? Or the story goes. Then these people figure out that to survive in it has more to do with your people skills ability to get them to buy stuff then it does your musical ability, and since California is an at will state decide to leave because the job isn't really for them, or the owner decides to fire them for not figuring that part out.
You have astutely pointed out another glaring problem in our industry. Many if not most drum shops (and perhaps other music retailers) are owned and managed by drummers who have little to no experience running a business. This was especially common in the 1970s, 1980s and on into the 90s. While that is changing, it is glaringly obvious what shops are managed by people who know how to run a business (see Memphis Drum Shop) and those that are not.

Also, every state in the union is an "at-will" state, though some have exceptions in special circumstances, so I am not sure how that is relevant?

This flaw does indeed trickle down to the sales floor in the form of recruiting qualified sales staff. That said, how can a manager reasonably expect to hire someone who possesses adequate salesmanship AND rudimentary drumming knowledge for $8 an hour?

If the music retailers weren't making a profit, then he wouldn't have given me a break on the price. Why don't they just drop the price to their lowest profitable level and tell me that's as low as they could go then? At a Guitar Center just last week this happened to me: I was looking at their $35 straight cymbal stands and asked if he could do better. He was honest and said no. He even showed me on his computer he was only marked up 5% over cost. I bought them and he was being honest. Nobody else could sell them that low. The salesman wasn't a frustrated musician frustrated at me trying to get a deal, he just laid it on the line, there was nothing to haggle. If all music retailers ran their stores like all other retailers, there'd be less frustrated musicians working for them and customers wouldn't expect a better deal. It's interesting to go into a BestBuy these days.
Some shops do, some don't, it is a matter of the market in which they operate. In the current drum industry, I know for a fact that, smaller, independent dealers need to maintain roughly a 20% gross profit margin to keep their doors open. Keep in mind, the net profit (after wages, rent, other overhead) is much lower, often in the single digits. You should know as a former GC employee, not even the evil giant could possibly operate on 5% GP margins.

With respect to your Best Buy comment, I would like to hear more. I've been either out of the industry or out of the country for most of their tenure in MI retailing, so it is very interesting to hear experiences from those who have spent time there.
 

Witterings

Silver Member
So I was at a drum shop the other day, planning to try out some cymbals. I told the guy there that I might be interested in a new cymbal, and I went to try them out. Well, I was pretty sure I wasn't gonna buy a new cymbal, because I am planning on getting one used. But i still wanted to try them out, to see if i liked them or not.
Personally I wouldn't go into a shop and try out their cymbals adding wear and tear etc to their products if I had no intention of buying one from them as I just don't think it's reasonable.
If you went into this shop as they sold Paiste and you were then going to go into a shop down the road to try Zildjian to see which you prefer and were intending to buy one or the other then that's a totally different story and justified but that doesn't seem to be the case as you said you were looking to get a used one.
A friend of mine has sold cars for years and he says you tell the joyriders / timewasters from 100 yards and I'll bet that most people that work in drum stores can spot the people that are then going to buy for less on line or second hand.
You say you didn't ask for his help but if you'd gone in serious about potentially buying something from them and he'd ignored you I'll bet you'd be saying - I couldn't believe it, I went into a store wanting to spend money and they just ignored me.
What response do you think you'd get if you walked into a shop and said I've absolutley no intention of buying anything from you as I can get them cheaper online / 2nd hand but do you mind if I bash a couple of your cymbals about and devalue your stock for you to see if I want to buy them from somebody else who can't even offer me the opportunity to try them before I buy them - I think you know what the answer would be.
Maybe he was having a bad day and in which case the person working in the store was out of order but I'd have a bet on it he pretty quickly realised you had no intention of buying anything from them from the minute he offered you help and you seemed disinterested.
Just my 2 p's worth and not trying to say what he did was right but I think store owners are having a hard time at the moment, if they didn't offer you the opportunity to try stuff they could be selling it cheaper online without the overheads but they're offering a service that if we want to use that service we should then expect to pay for it !!!!
 
A

audiotech

Guest
It's a double edged sword. I've been in drum stores where the customer had absolutely no intent to buy their cymbals there, but just wanted to test them out so they could buy on line. I actually heard this from two of the people in the nest aisle. This particular Five Star shop is very loose concerning the auditioning of their products. The individuals I'm referring to were bashing these cymbals and leaving finger prints on them by chocking them in the process until a salesperson had to intervene and help them along with their cymbal "purchase". The salesperson was not rude at all, but these individuals felt as if their intended reason for being in the store was being abruptly interfered with and then they left the store. If one of the stores personnel wouldn't have interrupted the insane bashing of their products when they did, I was going to say something. It was a very busy Saturday afternoon and probably all 10 of the shop's people were working at the time. I can see auditioning products, I do it all the time, but hammering and bashing articles that don't belong to you is entirely a different matter. These are the same cymbals that you or I might walk in five minutes later to buy. The shop owners have to walk a very thin line when it comes to selling their products and protecting them from possible damage.

I have a handful of shops that I like to browse through, but just a couple I really spend my money in. This Five Star shop has incredible prices on their entire inventory, in fact I've never seen anything drum related any less expensive on the Internet. They have about 10 people working in their shop which also includes the owner and his wife. With the inventory they have, the people working for them, all seasoned drummers, and the low prices they have on their equipment, it is still run like a mom and pop shop. I would never dream of asking them for a lower price than what they have marked on their merchandise. I have taken advantage of GC's policy of price matching in a few instances though.

Not all drums shops are alike and this is just one of many experiences I've seen first hand.

Dennis
 

THC

Senior Member
I just bought a Roland TD4 e-kit from GC.

I'll fully admit that I went to Guitar Center to bang around on the e-kits, decide which one I liked, and then go home and buy it online for less.

However, when I got there, the salesman was extemely cool. I told him I was shopping for an e-kit and wanted to look at some of the ones they have. Without hesitation, he turned on all the kits, gave me some sticks and said "have fun, let me know if you have any questions" I played with some different kits for about an hour. I'd ask him questions when I had them. He'd answer them, and then leave me alone. A couple of times he'd stop by and show me some cool feature of whatever kit I was on at the time. I had even told him up front that the high end Roland's were out of my price range, but he still let me play on them as long as I wanted.

In the end, I was VERY happy with the service I was provided and I purchased a Roland right there on site. I payed more than I had planned to spend on a kit, and I most likely payed more than I would have online, but to me, the added value of good customer service made it worth it to me.

Not sure what this has to do with the thread, but I just wanted to share.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
If you are lucky enough to be in an area with several Guitar Centers within reasonable difference, you might be surprised at the difference a change in store can bring. One drum department in a GC I had dealt with for years has gone sharply downhill, but then again, so has the store, in terms of customer service.

Guitar Center sometimes has very good deals and sales, a nationwide stock, and good ability to get what I need if I can't find it, so sometimes, they are the best answer. So I moved my GC patronage to another store only thirty miles further down the road, and they've been the epitome of customer service - friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable within reason.

I happen to live in a smaller town that's about 180 miles from this GC, so I only go there for very big-ticket items or items that my local music shop can't get me due to not distributing that brand. (On an aside, I was very happy to see the Evans/ProMark merger recently, because it brought ProMark to my local shop.) I try to patronize my local shop to the fullest extent, for several reasons - supporting a local small business, turning my money back into the community, and being very good friends with the manager and drum department head. They have even gone so far as to call me when they are making up orders for my favorite brands, to ask me if I need another brick of sticks or a kick head or two. I also ended up buying a new bass guitar from them because they not only started at a lower price than GC did, but were able to match the warranty and have a local guitar tech set it up professionally for free.

Yet, when it came time to buy a new kick pedal, unfortunately, they did not stock my first choice of pedal; Guitar Center could not match the price I found at cymbalfusion.com, and I had tried the pedal that I really wanted.

I tend to buy things from Guitar Center in person if there is a need to test-drive them, such as cymbals or drum thrones - especially if there is a timeliness issue. Stuff that I want to get a great price on but am not concerned about getting today, I go through my local shop. If my local shop doesn't carry something I have tried and liked, due to my distance from GC I am not shy about going to the net and looking up the cheapest price, with no tax and free shipping.

Cymbals in stores are weird beasts. I love going in and tinkling on them with a pair of demo sticks, but buying one off the rack is more involved - I usually bring in my other cymbals for a side-by-side, and go over the cymbal pretty closely to make sure nobody's beat it bent or cracked it nearly invisibly. But at the end of the day, after all that, I'm going to buy the cymbal there if it pleases me. If I really want to play price wars, instead of turning my heel and going to buy it somewhere else cheaper, I'll likely bring up that cymbal on Google Mobile on the spot to get an idea of its street price, and go from there. Unless they're gouging me, I'll probably do the deal right there. And of course, if my bringing in my cymbals to A/B upsets someone in the store, I don't feel too bad about taking my business to another store.

Agreed fully with previous posters who felt that "The customer is always right" can be abused. I do think that the customer is the reason for being in the retail business, but nothing justifies one person being abusive to another person for any reason, whether salesman to customer or vice versa.
 
Thanks for all the replies guys...

And to be specific, what I actually said was, "I'd like to check out a few rides"
I didn't really say I'd be interested in buying one.

And actually Travis this was guitar center! Do they have a reputation for being rude to customers who don't buy?
Fortunately there's a drum HQ nearby, which cover's most of my drum needs. They hardly have any paiste stuff though, which is why I went to GC.
GC? I'll bet you a large sum of money that if you wait 3 weeks and go back, he won't be there. Their turnover is one of the highest of any industry. It's a revolving door of salespeople.
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
I agree with Bobdadruma, I can order a 14' Ambassador and have it delivered to my house for less cost than the .875% sales tax in New Orleans and the ten dollars of gas I will spend to drive 80 miles R/T to a store.

On the other hand if you really want to hear what an instrument sounds like, then there's really no comparison to trying it out in person at a shop.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Bo, your assumption that the dealer could still make a profit on that stand isn't necessarily true, or at least isn't the whole picture. Some places will sell certain items at price that they cannot afford to do, day in and day out, just to make you happy and keep you as a customer. But it isn't really accurate to think they could do that all the time. A 5% margin won't cover your cost of doing business, normally, for a brick and mortar store.

Make no mistake, I look for good deals, too. But I also understand that, when the main driving factor in a purchase is price only, then service will suffer. Sadly, most people buy on price alone - think WalMart, not really known for outstanding service, but still an enormous retailer - and to be competitive, businesses cut labor costs. The reality is, you will not have consistently excellent service when you've bought the cheapest labor available.

I agree with the people who say that a person working retail shouldn't be rude to a customer. But I also know there are a lot of customers who deserve it. Among them, in my opinion, are people who waste the time of a retailer and use that retailer's investment when they have no intention of buying there. Also, there are customers who think that, because they have money to spend, they have no responsibility to treat the retailer respectfully. The "I have the money, and without me you are shit, so you have to do whatever I want and I can treat you however I want" mentality. In my opinion, this type is just a crappy human being - at least this aspect of their personality is crappy. To me, it's the adult version of the playground bully. Anyone who works retail has met this person. Unfortunately, retailers have to learn to let that stuff roll off their backs somewhat. But it's tough.
If I may be allowed to back-pedal a bit, I do not treat salespeople like crap when I go into a store. I nicely tell them I can get it cheaper elsewhere and if they're willing to bargain with me, I'll buy it right there on the spot. Which I did, in my case. You can be a good negotiator without trashing the salesman. But I stand by my attitude that "it's your money, do what you want with it" because for everybody, that's the truth. They don't have to take bullying from a salesman to buy something.

I've seen both, customers being crappy to the salespeople and salespeople totally pressuring the customer to make a sale. This never occurs whenever I go to Pro Drum Shop in Hollywood, though, and they've been in business since 1953.

Now whether or not stores selling at 5% over cost is an issue or not remains to be seen. I'm just saying that if you open a business and you're prime directive is to make a profit, I can only assume they're making a profit on everything or else, why do it? Do you notice nobody haggles for stuff at the supermarket? Or the gas station? If you don't want to pay their price, they don't turn around and suddenly give you a deal, do they? I believe every commodity falls under this rule. When I worked at the now defunct Goodman Music in the '90s, I was told, a $1 dollar profit over cost is still better than not having sold it. And we were never allowed to sell anything at cost or under cost to keep the customer. A favorite line I always heard the manager tell somebody haggling was "if you can get it at that price, did you buy it?".

Although that chain has gone out of business, I got the distinct feeling that prices were set between the manufacturer and the corporate office, and even if we as the lowly salespeople were just above cost, the company made something. They would rather move alot of stuff rather than get the big profit off of one item. I understood that.

I just find it hard to believe that music retailers are operating under different rules of economics.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
LOL, you need to move to NH, we do not have most of those taxes......Yet!! the liberals are trying harder and harder every year though.

Stores around here are great to buy from, especially ones that are on the borders of Maine and Taxachusetts they make a living off of those states citizens having to shop here to avoid ridiculous sales taxes. maine even tried to pass a law here in NH saying that we had to ask for ID's and if they were from Maine we had to tax them...LOL how ridiculous that it even got to a vote but eh what are ya gonna do. Hopefully NH can hang on to it's policies for the rest of my life anyway.

if someone gave me an attitude at a store I would go back when I knew I was buying something and seek out another saleman and hope the A-hole was there watching me buy : )
Live Free or Die Man! I have always loved the great state of NH!
I spent every summer of my childhood at Lake Winnipesaukee. (I can even spell it without help!) LOL!
 

daredrummer

Gold Member
I am amazed in how much better customer service drum headquarters has than guitar center. Drum hq let me...

Exchange a drumhead (free of charge) when i recieved the wrong one (didnt even have a receipt, and it wasnt bought from that store either)
Return an opened hi hat clutch
Try out any drum stuff without making a fuss
Theyll match any online price.

God i just wish they had more paiste...
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
Live Free or Die Man! I have always loved the great state of NH!
I spent every summer of my childhood at Lake Winnipesaukee. (I can even spell it without help!) LOL!
yup! Something to be said about buying a drum kit in Portsmouth vs Hartford or Boston eh?
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
His prices are fair. He carries some really high-end items like JNDC and Sonor. His Youtube videos of snares are very good. No tax!

Oh yeah did I mention No Tax ?
 
Last edited:
Top