David Bozich and Michelle Ventura talk with Taylor Harnois about the challenges of running a music store in a small town. They discuss how going online has enabled them to find audiences outside of the market and better serve local musicians.
They detailed how refining their business processes has helped streamline their business. They also discuss how taking advantage of the tools your store’s software can help you take control of your business and give you insight to help make important decisions.
- Use technology to expand your market.
- Take advantage of all the tools you have available.
- Make your revenue drivers things that can not be found online.
- Don’t underestimate the amount of clerical work that needs to be done.
- Work on your business processes.
- Music Shop 360 helped us because we could market. Outside the area, not just to the small group of people that’s around us, the 10,000 people that live in Enumclaw.
- Which is really easy for us to pop something onto Reverb and then get the revenue back.
- I always knew that having more classes and more people walking through the front door for lessons would bring people into the store and see what we’ve got.
- I didn’t expect the amount of actual background work that needed to be done.
- Music Shop 360 has a list of what needs to be done and we can track what needs to be done. We can text people
Enumclaw Music is a full-service music store, family owned and run in the heart of Enumclaw, Washington. The store has been open for 35 years. David Bozich bought the store 10 years ago. Michelle Ventura joined Enumclaw music a few years ago and is preparing to take over the store.
[00:01:42] Taylor Harnois: All right. Thanks for joining us today on the Music Shop podcast. We’re excited to have a really special guest with us today. A couple of guests. We have David and Michelle from Enumclaw Music, and David and Michelle, why don’t you take a, just a handful of minutes and tell us a little bit about yourselves and your store.
[00:00:40] David Bozich: Sure. Our store’s been here for about 35 years. We bought it from the previous owner about 10 years ago. We do the standard kind of music shop things. We have retail, which does about 50%, 55% of our business, and then we have classes and we do music lessons. We have about 14 teachers that teach in five or six studios in the back.
And then we do repairs, we do rentals to the schools and to the class members and those kinds of things. And then that’s kind what we do here. And We’ve been growing quite a bit over the last little while. It’s been doing quite well for us and our business slowed down a little bit during the pandemic, but we were able to work remotely and continue going, and we’ve been very successful since then.
[00:01:42] Taylor: Oh, that’s great. That’s awesome. You guys are located just outside of Seattle. Obviously there’s a really vibrant and historical music scene there in Seattle. I’m curious, how did you kind of get your start in the business? Were you a player? Were you on the business side of it? Or how did you get started in the music industry?
[00:02:01] David: I’ve been a musician since I was 12, and when I was 12 I always thought I wanted to retire and teach music. So when I retired from the business that I was previously in and I got an opportunity to buy this store, I went ahead and bought this store and now we get an opportunity to teach and play with the kids and you know, have fun all day long and it’s just a blast. It’s just a blast. We get to teach people how to fix instruments, teach people music, teach, all that kind of stuff. And at about two years from now, I get to switch roles with Michelle, and Michelle is going to be starting to take over my roles and then I’ll be backing off a little bit and taking her roles and then, and I’ll be the manager. She’ll be able to boss me around and then I’ll be just teaching for the rest of my life.
[00:03:03] Michelle Ventura: I already boss him around.
[00:03:04] David: Yeah, that’s true.
[00:03:05] Taylor: Yeah. No. Hey, I know how that goes. That’s that’s fantastic.
[00:03:09] Michelle: And I actually, I don’t, I have a musical background, but not in the way that David does. I was always in choir and I actually, during Covid, lost my job and came in to talk with David, cuz both of my girls were in our group band class that we have here. Mm-hmm. And I couldn’t afford the lessons because I had lost my job and my husband had too. And David needed help with marketing. And so that’s how I came in cuz I have a marketing background and I traded services to be able to let my girls go to band and fell in love with what Enumclaw music does for our community and our kids. And ended up working my way up to store manager and talked with David and Kathy and said, you know, that my husband and I were really interested in keeping this staple here in town because it has been here already 35 years.
[00:04:08] Taylor: Boy, that’s a fantastic story. That’s really something. You both kind of come from unique situations. We do talk to a lot of stores that, you know, they go, they branch out on their own, they kind of start their own thing. They’re not really picking up an established store, and both of you are kind of coming about that the opposite direction where, you know, the store has been in place. You know, as you mentioned, it’s been around for 35 years. And David, you took it over you know, 10 years ago. So, tell me a little bit about that. What caused you to want to kind of take over an establish business rather than start your own?
[00:04:42] David: Well, one of the big deals was that I was really bored after working at computers for quite a while. I wanted to do something that was really fun and help the community quite a bit. So I got an opportunity to talk with this woman who owned the store, and the store was significantly smaller at the time that I purchased. I had far less teachers, far less business. Had probably one employee instead of the four of us that are working now.
[00:05:16] Michelle: And zero retail, there wasn’t any retail aspect to it.
[00:05:21] Taylor: Oh, wow.
[00:05:21] David: Right, and right now we have about $190,000 worth of inventory in our store.
[00:05:27] Michelle: And we just hit over a quarter of a million for this year.
[00:05:31] Taylor: Yeah. Oh, wow. Congratulations.
[00:05:34] David: Yeah, which is really good for our little town has about 11,000 people in it.
[00:05:40] Taylor: Yeah. So you guys are doing well.
[00:05:42] David: We’re doing very well. We’re marketing to, you know, everybody that we can. So it was really nice a couple of days ago, Music Shop 360 helped us because we could market. outside the area, not just to the small group of people that’s around us, the 10,000 people that live in Enumclaw, but we could market to the people, I think the gentleman was in Illinois and bought his grandson of ukulele and we’ve been selling on Reverb, which Music Shop 360 helps us do, which is really easy for us to pop something onto Reverb and then get the revenue back through that, which is, which helps us a tremendous amount.
[00:06:25] Taylor: I’m gonna ask you about a number of those things that you mentioned.
[00:06:28] David: Yeah. That helps a lot. So that helps us grow the business a little bit outside what we’ve got, and that’s what helps us a lot in the classes too, is because we get a lot of class sign-ups from people who are excited about the classes.
We’ll go and we’ll talk to churches or we’ll talk to community members, or we’ll talk to friends and they’ll go and talk to other friends about the classes that we do. They’ll go onto our website, they’ll sign up for classes, and it’s very easy for them to get on and sign up for classes and become part of our community of players.
[00:07:06] Michelle: Well, and we are one of the few places that have homeschool specific classes available.
[00:07:12] Taylor: Oh really?
[00:07:13] Michelle: And we have a very large homeschool community here in Enumclaw, but we have people, we had someone come all the way from Kitsap County because we were the only place that she could find an orchestral class outside of the youth symphonies. Her daughter wasn’t quite ready to join the symphony yet cuz she didn’t know, she didn’t have the skillset yet. Yeah, and so we have that opportunity. We have a full orchestral strings class with about 23 kids right now. We do guitar and ukulele as well.
[00:07:51] Taylor: Yeah. Yeah. That’s kind of been an interesting theme as you’ve talked about, you know, getting started. It sounds like the education component and the music education component has really been the driving factor for both of you, Michelle, for being able to provide that for your children, and David, for you to want to be able to share your skillset and your, you know, your knowledge base with others and I think that’s fantastic. I, and that probably is one of the things that really kind of differentiates you from a lot of other, you know, retailers or service providers is really a heavy focus on the education piece.
I’m curious as you were you know, weighing, and both of you can answer this cuz Michelle, you’re currently in this situation. David, you’ve gone through this situation, but as you’ve kind of been weighing your options or as you were weighing your options on, you know, buying the business, what were some of the challenges that you did foresee? And then I’m gonna ask you what are maybe some of the challenges that you didn’t foresee, but I’m curious kind of what were maybe some apprehensions or things you were worried about or things you were excited about challenges that you foresaw as you were contemplating buying the business.
[00:08:59] David: Oh the biggest one is the internet. Our number one competitor is the internet. We can’t compete with the internet. We don’t have floor space. We can’t compete outside. There’s just no way to compete with the internet. We have to price our guitar strings and a lot of the commodity products at the same price as the internet. Now, if we have one off items, we could price them at better margin. Yeah. But we can’t otherwise.
[00:09:31] Taylor: Yeah. That MAP pricing is gonna dictate what you can offer at, right?
[00:09:34] David: Yeah. Now the MAP, my MAP pricing is okay. But when they come, when Amazon comes in and starts dropping the price on products cheaper than we can buy ’em from our distributors, which they will do, then people come in with their phones, they look at the price, they barcode it with their phones, and I’ve watched people barcode our Kala ukuleles and look at ’em and go, oh, that one’s this price on this vendor, will you match it? Right, and yes, we will match it because we wanna sell, we wanna get it out of the store. But that could drop our margin quite a bit.
[00:10:19] Taylor: Yeah.
[00:10:20] David: But what helps us tremendously is the fact that we, I always knew that having more classes and more people walking through the front door for lessons would bring. People into the store and see what we’ve got and meet people like Michelle and meet people like Kat and meet people like Danielle, the other employees that are here and talk to us and want to buy stuff from a local retailer and that’s what happens is people will come into our store and say yes, I wanna buy from you guys instead of somewhere else. And they’ll come back and buy guitar strings. They’ll come back and buy things even though they’re a tiny bit more expensive here and then it makes a huge difference to our bottom line when that happens.
[00:11:22] Taylor: Yeah you’re really kind of a step ahead of me. I mean, that was exactly what I was gonna ask about next, you know, you’ve got these big giants out there, the Guitar Centers, the Sweetwaters of the, the industry that really, you know, they gobble up obviously quite a bit of the market share and for a store to survive, not only survive, but thrive takes really a different level of customer service.
[00:11:44] David: Very much!
[00:11:46] Taylor: And as, as I was kind of, you know, reading about the store and everything you say something really interesting, and this is right off your website, you say, we focus primarily on our customers, not on our products, right. Tell me a little bit about that philosophy.
[00:12:02] David: Well, it really, it, you have to focus on what the person gets out of the instrument or the. experience. When you sit down and you talk to somebody about a guitar, you explain to them the difference between the different guitars and why they would want, you know, what the benefit would be of a classic of guitar versus an acoustic guitar versus a dread knot guitar versus an orchestral versus a three quarter size versus a half size. You go through the different things and you talk to them about how it fits on their bodies and what the benefit of playing and how it feels on their body and then they go, oh, now I see what I’m looking for and they feel like you’re paying attention to them.
[00:12:57] Michelle: And I’d have to jump in here because I had zero, I had never even touched a guitar in my life when I started working here, knew nothing. And I honestly, it was just asking questions. I tell David all the time that our, job is to find a need and fill it and so I would ask people, I would hand them different guitars and they said, which one do you like that sounds better. Like what do you like about the sound? Because I come from a background in wood floor manufacturing, so I know what different woods do and I know how it affects the acoustics in a room and things like that so I was able to apply that to guitars and do the different types of woods, the different shape of the guitar, the tone holes. Do you have, you know, an ovation that only has the three little holes at the top? What’s the, you know, and then the rounded back. How does that affect? And so that’s how I was able to help customers is to get it in their hands and ask them, what do you like? How does this feel? What do you like about the sound? Because I knew nothing at all.
[00:14:11] Taylor: Yeah.
So, I mean, it sounds like a really personalized…
[00:15:27] Michelle: it is.
[00:15:28] Taylor: Customized shopping experience for your customers, which, you know, that’s the antithesis of what somebody gets when they walk into a Guitar Center or they’re buying on a Sweetwater. It’s, I mean, really at that point, it’s very just transactional. You’re going in, you pay your money, you take the product off the wall or walk out the door with it. And there’s really a lack of that you know, that unique experience. And it sounds like you. You know, obviously very quickly identified, this is the niche we can fill. This is what we can do different, that’s gonna really separate us and I, you know, that’s fantastic.
[00:16:01] David: We also do that with repairs.
[00:16:04] Taylor: Okay.
[00:16:05] David: When somebody walks in and they have a guitar and they have an instrument, they have any kind of instrument, or a violin or something, and they’re looking at it and they don’t know anything about, you have to be very conscientious that they, if they’re walking at a regular shop, they may be taking an advantage of somebody, you know? Somebody might take advantage of them and say, oh, this is gonna be $150 or $200, or a $300 repair, and you have to be kind and loving of this person like you would if they were your grandmother, you know, you’ve gotta, you’ve gotta go through and say, All right, it needs new strings, but the violin is only worth this much.
So let’s put on a $16 pair of strings instead of a $50 or a hundred dollars set of strings. Let’s clean it up and make it look good and sound good. You could play it and then you could listen to it. We can always go nicer later, but at least you’ll get it started and they don’t spend a fortune doing that, and then they’ll come back and then they go, well, I’ve got another instrument in my closet and I’ve got another one here and I’ve got another one here. We had somebody bring in two mandolins last night for us to do. Yeah, that’s great. You have somebody bringing in both our instruments, which is Yeah, pretty nice. You don’t have somebody bringing in just one. You’re bringing two, which is great revenue.
[00:17:38] Taylor: Yeah. Yeah. And it, I mean, it sounds like that has really been kind of the calling card for Enumclaw Music is really providing that level of service and that’s what you have to do, right? That’s what you’ve gotta do to be successful. So, I’m curious, so I asked you about you know, challenges that you did foresee and you quickly identified, well, the internet is, you know, the whole online selling, that’s gonna be a challenge for us. What about things that surprised you as you, you know, took over ownership. What are some of the things that surprised you about being a store owner the industry the customers, anything like that? What was surprising to you?
[00:18:11] David: I know I didn’t expect, the amount of actual background work that needed to be done. That was really a headache for me. My niece is here helping, but there is a tremendous amount of background work that needs to be done.
[00:18:30] Taylor: Talk about that a little bit. We have a lot of stores that watch the podcast or listen to the podcasts that are contemplating starting a business. Talk about what are some of those specific things that you’re mentioning here?
[00:18:40] David: Let’s start, start…
[00:18:41] Michelle: The taxes! Holy cravoli!
[00:18:44] David: We live in Washington and we have…
[00:18:46] Taylor: oh boy.
[00:18:47] David: Ah-huh. Yeah. Yeah. And we have a few certain kinds of taxes, but it’s not just that, it’s not just that. It’s every item in our store has a barcode on it. All right? So you have to keep track of, you have to put, make sure that everything’s barcoded and everything has the right price on it. Well, you can’t just change the price in the computer. You have to go out and make sure that the barcode is right on the labels. Yeah. And you gotta make sure that all the labels are right and all the products are right in the, you know, on the right spot. People move products all the time. I wasn’t in retail. I didn’t know the… you were in retail before. I don’t know retail. People move stuff all the time. Oh my gosh. Yeah. People move take the tags off of guitars all the time, and I’m walking, or violins or drum sets or anything else. They take tags off all the time and, or they fall off and they’re going, they walk up and say, how much is this? And I’m going, what do you mean, how much is this? I don’t know, you know.
[00:19:55] Michelle: Or something as simple as doing purchase orders. If, you know, if something ends up not shipping or whatever, you have to go back and make sure that everything is priced right, or if you got a discount that wasn’t on the sales order or, you know, and all of these things just take time and making sure that we are going through and all of our services are being shown and have good descriptions in them so people can see, and it’s all this, these little things that are kind of behind the scenes that nobody really realizes and yeah, we have an amazing Danielle. Our Danielle is our back office manager, and I told her that she’s not allowed to leave when I take over. Because I need her, because she is the glue that keeps us all together because she takes, she is phenomenal at the backend things and can just whip them out. And me coming into this and seeing not only the retail side of things, but also the back end of things in becoming a business owner.
I think your team is highly important. Your team and the systems that you have in place, systems for these things is essential. Correct. Because otherwise you’re going to run yourself into the ground. You’re gonna work 102 hours every week.
[00:21:25] David: Me?
[00:21:25] Michelle: Sometimes you like doing that, and we have a very little town and a lot of very small business owners here and when you step into that role, you know you’re gonna be probably putting in more than your normal, you know, 40 hour because you have a passion for it. It’s cause you, you want to give something back. You have a love for this, and so you’re willing. So I think that was a little interesting for me to see is how much happened behind the scenes to make everything run okay out here in the front.
[00:22:02] Taylor: Yeah. Yeah. It’s not just open up a candy stand or something like that.
[00:22:06] David: Oh no, not at all. Yeah. Nope. And especially when you have five parts of our business, you have the rentals. Luckily, the rentals run by themselves, but they still occasionally will have, you know, an overdue that doesn’t, you have to make a phone call on. So you have to monitor those. Yeah, you have lessons. You have classes where you’ve gotta monitor those. You have repairs. Luckily, Music Shop 360 has a list of what needs to be done and we could track what needs to be done. We could text people, which is easier.
[00:22:42] Michelle: Oh my gosh. I, I do just a little bit of a shout out to Music Shop 360 for that. When I started here with the work orders, I was frustrated. Coming from a warehouse manager position background, I made sure there were things that David had no idea would be helpful. And I was like, Hey, we need to be doing these type of things with our work orders. And I had gone into the comments area where you can suggest a feature and things like that, and other people have been suggesting things and the new way that the work orders are, oh my gosh, has made our lives a million times easier.
[00:23:27] Taylor: That’s great. That’s great feedback.
[00:23:29] Michelle: And it’s made us be able to track, you know, getting a hold of customers and things like that because our repairs are an essential part of our business. But we’re, we don’t have a dedicated repair person. So we are doing repairs in between helping customers and things like that. So we have to keep track of who’s doing what, who took it in and things of that nature. So those little things, I think my expertise was able to come and help just enhance what we do here.
[00:24:02] David: Yeah. And communication, for anybody starting a new business. Communication between, anybody that works at the business is incredibly important. Yep. And you have to have things written down. There’s so many things that happen. So a customer will come in and, say something and you’ll need to do something about it. You’ve gotta write it down and pieces of paper don’t work.
[00:24:26] Michelle: You lose ’em all the time.
[00:24:30] David: You lose ’em all the time. So you need work orders to be able to put that stuff down. You need special orders to be able to put them in as soon as the customer comes in. And you need to get the money from the special order as soon as the customer comes in. So you get all that information and you need to make sure that when you take a special order or a work order, you make sure that you have the customer read the receipt to make sure their phone number is right. Those little processes I never knew when I started. Every once in a while you’d have a customer that brought something in and you’d write down their phone number and their phone number would be wrong.
[00:25:11] Taylor: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:25:12] David: So there’s, it would be great. You know, there’s just. There’s so many things that we know, you know, that you know, and we know that would be nice just to write down and, you know, okay, here’s all the things you kind of need to know about these things to do, and Music Shop 360 that you know, you kind of need to know to do these things because if you do these things, you’re not gonna get as messed up. We’ve all been messed up before. Yeah. So we’ve all lost instruments in our store and a customer has come in and said, we’ve brought a repair in and we look at ’em and go, where’s the instrument? And we go, I don’t know where the instrument is. We’ll be back to you in a bit, you know? Those kinds of things just can’t.
[00:26:07] Taylor: Yeah. You know, again, you mentioned something really interesting there. You have four, four employees. You’re a full service music store. So you’ve got the retail side, work orders, lessons, rentals you name it, you guys are doing it. That’s really not feasible for four people to do. You’ve gotta have really fantastic systems and policies and procedures in place if you’re gonna get this thing off the ground. It sounds like you guys have learned that lesson and done well with it, which is great.
I did also want to ask, so you had mentioned a little bit earlier that one of the things that has evolved is consumer behavior. You know, they’re coming in with phones, they’ll scan a barcode, try to find it elsewhere, have you price match it. You know, you’ve got, again a plethora of retailers on the internet. Tell me a little bit about your online efforts. So I know you guys sell on your website, rentals on the website, you guys are doing Reverb. Tell me about some of the successes that you’ve had there.
[00:27:04] Michelle: So David and I like to fight about this side of things because David loves his computer. He comes from a computer background. And I…
[00:27:13] David: They’re friendly!
[00:27:13] Michelle: They are not.
[00:27:16] David: They’re friendly!
[00:27:16] Michelle: And I’m a people person. I love people. So he and I kind of, we’re constantly going back and forth as to where to put our energy, you know, of the face-to-face contact or the online. But I will say that we get some pretty cool, weird instruments in here for lack of a better word. We just got a tiple yesterday. It’s a consignment. I didn’t even know what a tiple was. And those things, we had this beautiful horn that was an old 1920s Getzen trumpet and things like that, we’re able to take Reverb and reach people all over the nation that are looking for a specific item. We were even able to help one of our clients looking for a very specific saxophone.
[00:28:11] David: Yes.
[00:28:12] Michelle: And I was able to reach someone across the nation to be able to satisfy that need. And I think that’s more of what we use our online presence for.
[00:28:24] Taylor: That’s awesome.
[00:28:24] Michelle: Those unique instruments that we get in as consignments or somebody’s like, my dad just passed away. I found this in the attic. Here. Cause we do get that and it’s more of that thing as well as, like David said, just a couple of days ago, we had that dad who, or that grandpa who lives across the country, but grandson lives here. Yeah. So I think that’s honestly a lot cuz we can’t, we absolutely cannot compete with Sweetwater or Guitar Center for the online product, brand new presence, but we can absolutely have a different service available, you know, and customer service available for our clients as well as those unique instruments and utilizing reverb and things like that as well as the rentals. The rentals have really helped. People just go online and they’re able to rent a violin. We get it ready for them. They come in, they pick it up. I mean, we are in a convenience age, right. We want…
[00:29:31] Taylor: Yeah, exactly.
[00:29:32] Michelle: You know, and they don’t have to wait. They’ve already done everything. And we need ’em to sign the paperwork and they walk out and we’re all honky dory.
[00:29:40] Taylor: Everybody’s happy.
[00:29:41] Michelle: Yep.
[00:29:43] Taylor: Yeah, you’ve got it. Well, that’s that’s great. That’s really awesome feedback.
[00:29:46] David: And we also, we also keep just on our website, we’ve got it turned on, so it just shows what’s in stock.
[00:29:54] Taylor: Yep. Yeah.
[00:29:55] David: So we don’t show every, all the items we have, we just show what’s in stock. So when people look at it, they can see, yes, you do have this in stock and they’ll come in and say, you have this on your website that’s in stock. Can I get one? I did have somebody come in and call and say, you know, they came in and looked for a Hartke amp and we didn’t have it, but that’s just because we didn’t have it. I mean, yeah, things get sold. Yeah. But the point is that it’s so nice to have that instant availability of inventory on our website. That helps it. Yeah, because people, if you’re looking for a book or you’re looking for something, you can look on our website, see if it’s there. It is there and then they’ll come down and pick it up.
[00:30:47] Taylor: Yeah, that’s yeah. Boy, you really hit it right on the head there. I mean, that’s what we see time and time again is the real value of having the website fully integrated with the in-store inventory and the in-store point of sale is for exactly what you’re talking about. Your customers know when they go on your website, if they see it on your site, that it’s in stock, they can walk through your doors today and then get that personal experience that they’re looking for which is great. So they get the benefits of the online side, just, you know, getting the basic feelers out there, seeing what’s available, but then they can actually walk through the doors.
So yeah, you’ll have your online transactions, people will buy online. That’s, you know, those are all kind of just natural consequence of having an online presence. But what we really see is an uptick in foot traffic through the physical doors because people have seen things on your website and know that you have it in stock, but they do want to get that personal selling experience you talked about.
[00:31:41] David: Right. Yep.
[00:31:43] Taylor: Shifting gears a little bit I wanted to ask a little bit about vendors and vendor management. So, we’ve gone through a really interesting time, as you guys know, with the pandemic. It really led to a backlog of back orders, right. Vendors not being able to fulfill orders, not taking additional orders from stores because they knew they weren’t gonna be able to fulfill them. While at the same time seeing a huge spike in interest of you know, new players and people who are just beginning to learn instruments and getting invested in that. How have you navigated some of the supply chain issues that have gone on over the course of the last 24 months?
[00:32:19] David: Oh my gosh. just the last, I’ll let Michelle talk most about this, but the thing that’s getting me the most is the changing in prices. The changing in every single PO that comes in, we’re changing. It used to be five years ago, we’d buy from our vendors and the price would be the same. And we put the product out and the price would be the same.
We’d put the product out. Now it’s, you’ve gotta go back and change the default cost so that people at the register could see what the default cost is and you’ve gotta go back and change it. And then you go through and recalculate margin and make sure that we’ve got the right price on things, because some things are going up a dollar, you know, guitar strings are going up a dollar and I’m going, holy cow. Now we’ve gotta raise the guitar strings up a buck.
[00:33:15] Michelle: When I came in here I didn’t have the responsibilities that I did but I was able to kind of see, and one way that we did things differently during the pandemic is I actually started bringing in new products.
[00:33:32] David: That helped a lot.
[00:33:33] Michelle: We brought in new names. We brought in Peavey to give us an electric side of things. We brought in Hape toys, only their musical instruments because we had younger siblings coming in with their older siblings for lessons and wanting to play. They wanted to do their own. So, I think the biggest thing is, first of all, grace. We had to have grace. It was across, I mean, people, when people would come in and get frustrated that we didn’t have something, I would just simply remind them the grocery store is out of stuff too. We are dealing with the same problems that everywhere else is and people, after a little bit of time, I think they saw that everywhere is having this problem. That it’s okay. But one of the biggest things is my relationship with our vendors. I dropped some vendors that didn’t communicate with me and that was huge because. We had no idea when things were coming or what was happening. Yeah. And that made an additional stressor.
So I think that not only having that relationship with your clientele, but having that same type of relationship with your vendors is key too. I mean, we have one gentleman that you know, he’s got about 50% of the products that we have in here. And the different names because of the relationship that we created and him going above and beyond for me during the pandemic and making sure, I mean, we had one product that it took a year to get in here, and every month he was like, okay, this is where it’s at. No wait. This is where it’s at.
[00:35:12] Taylor: Oh, really?
[00:35:13] Michelle: And that communication was there.
[00:35:15] Taylor: Yeah. It’s certainly been an interesting time. This is a little bit off script, but I’m just curious, retail stores, saw a really big spike in new players, you know, people just getting interested, like I talked about. How sticky do you think those customers are gonna be? Do you feel like those people are, gonna start moving into maybe some more advanced instruments or you know, higher end products or do you think those guys are sticking around?
[00:35:39] David: You have to get them tied to you with lessons. One of the things that we do is if you buy a ukulele of a specific value or a violin or a guitar or any other instrument, you are automatically dropped into a class for free.
[00:35:57] Michelle: Our group classes. O ur lessons with our teachers are different. They’re subcontractors, but our group classes, you get a free class and for one month, One hour classes usually with David cuz he teaches everything.
[00:36:11] David: You get a month worth of classes. They’re once a week, so you get either four or five classes and you start to learn your instrument, which builds a relationship with the customer on that instrument and they also can come in and they look at the other instruments every day and they see Oh, there’s a nicer Kala ukulele there. And we got this weird policy where we allow customers to take nicer instruments into classes.
[00:36:45] Taylor: Oh, really?
[00:36:45] David: Yeah. We just had a girl that came into a class two weeks ago who got to play an electric guitar, and we’ve got this Peavey special that we’re doing, and she got to go in and play this electric guitar through this really nice $500 amp, and she just loved it and she didn’t have an electric guitar, so she got to play it during this class and then she put it back on the wall. Well, she took her acoustic guitar home and practiced the whole week and her mom saw that she really wanted it and she came back the next week and the mom bought the electric guitar and an amp, and a guitar cord and a strap and all those kinds of things and then we also allow you to be able to bring your instrument back and trade up.
[00:37:44] Taylor: Oh, that’s great.
[00:37:45] Michelle: Yeah. So we also have a, you can play with anything you want as long as you don’t put it in your mouth policy.
[00:37:51] David: That’s true.
[00:37:51] Michelle: So anybody can come in and play with anything they want. So one of the things that really meant a lot to me when I started here and why I kind of attached to David here was being a mom of four children the idea of purchasing instruments for my kids was really daunting, and the thought of putting in money and renting this instrument and never actually getting that instrument hurts your heart. But we, our program is rent to own and at any point in time during that rental the parent can come in and trade in that rental instrument and trade up and we’ll apply that credit and I think that’s what keeps clients coming back because even if they’ve done their rental and let’s say it’s, you know, they’ve paid off their rental. The kid’s been playing it for a year and they say, Hey, we purchased this with the rent to own about a year ago. We do trade in and so that’s what keeps our clientele you know, coming back to us because they’ve created that specific relationship.
[00:39:00] Taylor: Cool. I did want to kind of go back, I know I kind of sidetracked us asking that question about continuing to develop your customers and their skills and that sort of thing. But this question is really intended to kind of help some of the new stores who are just getting started out or thinking about getting started out. How do you guys decide what you want to sell? Is it, you know, we want to sell things we’re passionate about or we think. You know, this line’s gonna sell really well or is it a mix of that, or what’s that decision making process as far as this is what we’re gonna provide for our customers, this is what we’re gonna offer?
[00:39:33] Michelle: That’s an awesome question.
[00:39:34] David: The customers usually demand that. The customers will come in and say, do you have any of these? Do you have any of those? Do you have any of these? And we’ll go, oh, we don’t have any of those. Maybe we should carry some of these and if we get enough requests, we’ll start carrying them.
[00:39:54] Michelle: So one of the things when I started taking over the buying again, not being from a musical background other than my voice, which is not for sale we would bring a product in and David would really kind of assess how things went and I now, I mean, I can now tell him, I was like, we’ll bring in a product. And I’m like, okay, David. Two months. Two months before people really know we have it and the sales will start coming through and we’ll carry it. And you know what? We’ve decided to not carry certain things because, you know, people are always bringing ’em in for repairs. They’re, you know, yeah, they break all the time, or, you know, or our customers, it is really led by our clientele more than oh, we think this is gonna do really well.
The other thing is, being a small place, we can’t carry things like Gibson and Fender. We can’t buy in. It’s too expensive. So finding other quality instruments like Shecter, Peavey, Teton, Kala, that really helps a lot.
[00:41:02] David: The other thing that helps too is to find a vendor like we have done and we have a salesperson that does a lot of our business around here, and he works for, he does sales for multiple different stores and he comes in and says, this is selling.
[00:41:21] Michelle: Even the selling big box, like he’s got like the big box Guitar Center and things like that. Yeah.
[00:41:27] David: So it really makes the difference.
[00:41:29] Taylor: That’s really helpful. We’re gonna wrap up just a couple more questions for you. One, a little bit about us and then two, a little bit about you. So, tell me how Music Shop 360 has benefited the store.
[00:41:42] David: One of the big ways that it helps me from a management perspective is that I don’t have to go into our employees and say we gotta work harder, we gotta work harder, we gotta work harder because they look at the margins report and we’ve set a goal for them of a certain amount of money per day and it’s amazing because we can look back and even Michelle will come out and say, our margins report is this much, we’re at this much per day for this month and it’s really nice because everybody knows that and it’s visible to everybody and everybody sees it. If we’re at $200 a day today for profit and we’re that way for four or five days, we’re gonna reduce hours.
[00:42:32] Taylor: We got problems. Yeah.
[00:42:33] David: We got problems, right? So it’s really easy for the employees to see what’s going on.
[00:42:38] Michelle: Yeah, and again, like I think the work orders has been a huge thing, the rentals, the rent to own.
[00:42:45] David: The rent to own stuff.
[00:42:46] Michelle: Yes. That is so automated that it’s a one and done. Yeah. We no longer have to worry about it at all. It just, it flows. It functions.
[00:42:57] Taylor: Yeah. Well, we appreciate that very much. And yeah we’re excited to be partnering with you and I think we’ve been working with you for a number of years now. Four years I think and yeah and it’s been great. So yeah, we really appreciate being able to work for you.
Tell everybody a little bit about your store, where they can find you, your hours, your website, what they can expect when they come in to see you. Tell everybody about that.
[00:43:18] David: Good. We’re Enumclaw Music. We’re in Enumclaw, Washington. We service the south Seattle area, anything that’s in south King County and north Pierce County. We’re open 10 to 8, Monday through Saturday, which is interesting for a small store. But we have a lot of restaurants around here and we service the restaurants, the people that are walking around for the restaurants. We’re also open on Sunday, one to five, and we get a lot of business on Sunday too.
[00:43:47] Michelle: We have a repair person here usually seven days a week. Yeah. Like I said, all of us employees, except for our back office girl, we all do repairs. So we do repairs, we’ve got group classes homeschool in the mornings, and then classes in the afternoons for everybody else and all age.
[00:44:06] David: And we teach on everything. Here we do not teach harmonica or accordion. So…
[00:44:13] Taylor: Everything else you cover?
[00:44:14] David: Yeah, pretty much. Pretty much everything else is covered.
[00:44:17] Michelle: Yep. And we are a rinky dinky town, not in a bad way. We are kind of that hallmark town, and it’s really nice because we get a lot of, we’re right on the base of the Cascades, so we get a lot of people from Seattle, we get skiers and things like that, so it’s a nice destination place.
[00:44:39] Taylor: That’s awesome. Tell everybody your web address, your website.
[00:44:43] David: It’s www.enumclawmusic.com.
[00:44:47] Taylor: And they can find your reverb store on reverb.com. And it’s Enumclaw music on Reverb.
[00:44:52] David: Yep. It’s Enumclaw music on Reverb.
[00:44:54] Michelle: And we just opened a music foundation. We just, six months ago, got our business with Washington State and it’s Enumclaw Music Foundation, and we donate, we are able to give classes to kids regardless of their financial ability to pay.
[00:45:13] Taylor: Oh, wow.
[00:45:14] Michelle: So, that’s a new thing that we’ve just established too.
[00:45:17] Taylor: That’s awesome. It goes back to the exact reason why you’ve both gotten into the business is sharing the love of music and the education side. . That’s great. Well, we really appreciate your time today. Everybody go out and visit Enumclaw and they’ll provide you a really fantastic experience. If you’re looking for a new instrument, lessons you need to get something to repair, check ’em out. They’re gonna do a fantastic job for you, and thanks for stopping in.
[00:45:42] Michelle: All right. Have a great day. Thank you.
[00:45:44] Taylor: Thank you.