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Episode Summary

Taylor Harnois and Tara Noble talk about the challenges and rewards of specialization in the retail music industry. Tara discusses the benefits of building lasting relationships based on expertise and the network of drummers she associates with.

Tara also shares some of her insight and advice she learned from years working in the retail industry.

Key Insights

  • When you do a better job than anyone else, customers will come looking for you.
  • Building great customer relationships will pay long term dividends.
  • Serving a niche community can be very profitable.
  • Identify customers beyond your intense professionals.
  • Learn to be adaptable.

Episode Highlights

  • “It’s amazing to watch something turn like that where it’s you chasing after everybody and then people saying, and then us actually having to tell people, no, you know, we’re not, that’s, you know, doesn’t really fit us or it’s timing is bad.”
  • “And really just being, having that comfort level with your customers and then they feel. Oh, okay. This is, they know what they’re doing here. I bet you they know what they’re doing here.”
  • “You can make money running just drums. And I say absolutely.”
  • “I feel that there’s always gonna be the hobbyist, especially in the music industry.”
  • “Finding that balance, because a lot of people will just live and, oh, this is so bad right now and I can’t, we can’t do this, we can’t afford this. Okay, well what can I do to balance that out?”

Guest Bio

Tara Noble works with owner, Darren Phillips, to help run Dubs Drum Basement. Dubs is based in the East Bay musical hotbed of Dublin, California and teaches, resells, and stocks drum gear exclusively.



[00:00:00] Taylor Harnois: Welcome everybody to another edition of the Music Shop podcast. I’m very excited today to have Tara with us from Dubs Drum Basement based in Dublin, California. How are you, Tara? 

[00:00:32] Tara Noble: I’m doing well. How are you? 

[00:00:33] Taylor: Doing pretty well. Like, you know, I want to just say thanks as we get started here for jumping in today. I was really excited to talk to you about a number of things. I think there’s a lot of really unique things about Dubs that I definitely want to get into. You know, when I think about Dubs and kind of where you’re located, you guys are in the East Bay area of Northern California. And you talk about music scenes. Boy, I don’t know if it gets better than the East Bay area of Northern California. So for people who don’t know, and I’m sure everybody does, you know, you’ve got classic artists and groups from CCR to Tower of Power, who I know you guys have a personal connection with. You’ve got punk rock pioneers like Op Ivy and Green Day. You’ve got, you know, these metal giants like Metallica all coming out of the same. General area. So really, really diverse and influential music scene which has gotta be exciting to be a part of. Can you talk a little bit, maybe about your involvement there? I know again, you guys have kind of a connection with Tower of Power, but what is that like being in, in the East Bay area? 

[00:01:34] Tara: It’s amazing actually. One of the funnest things for me to do is go and watch our customers play, and especially seeing their reaction when myself or the owner, Darren shows up. Everybody gets, it’s just super exciting and there’s just such A great community of musicians here, and you can just go up to one of our teachers, Jeff Camp, who played drums for Joe Satriani for several years goes up and they play at a place called Luca and Benicia, and it’s him and the guitarist from Tower of Power. And it’s just all of these, like these killer players and just amazing music that you’re just, that’s right Up, up the freeway and just being able to have access to that is so invaluable. And yes, Dave Garibaldi, drummer for Tower of Power does teach lessons at our shop. 

[00:02:25] Taylor: Crazy. That’s, yeah. Crazy. 

[00:02:28] Tara: I’m like the worst drum fan. I was, you know, big, I mainly grew up in Central California and back east, but I was a huge Nirvana fan, so I the only people I really knew were like John Bonham and Dave Grohl. And so I remember Garibaldi coming in the shop and I’m really bad with faces and I didn’t know who he was.

And I was just like, “Hey, what’s going on?” And whatever. And I was like, oh, that guys, that’s pretty cool. They’re like, “That’s Dave Garibaldi. He’s the drummer for Tower of Power.” “Yeah. Oh, okay.” And they’re like, “wait, so do you take lessons from him?” And I tell people, no, we like to give other people the opportunity. And they said, “Wait, so you just get to hang out with Dave Garibaldi all day?” And I said, yeah, “actually, I guess I do.” So it’s an amazing environment to be around and you hear the stories and just, it’s just really, it’s really great to absorb on the daily basis. 

[00:03:16] Taylor: Yeah. The crazy thing, to me, the crazy thing about it is just the diversity within that group of artists.

I mean, you’ve got pioneers and giants from every type of genre, right? So huge music scene there that’s produced some really fantastic artists and music. And you know, I don’t think people really kind of connect the dots that you know, you’ve got this…. It’s not a small spot, it’s a big spot.

But there is a significant amount of music genius coming out of that, that one area, Northern California. So it’s pretty cool. And then you know, again, to have those connections with Tower of Power is you know, I’ve, I thought that was really cool. 

And then the other thing I like to say is, you know, I’m not really good with names and faces and recognizing people and that sort of. Well, that’s a drummer’s life, right?

The drummer never gets recognized. So, uh, that’s just kind of how it goes. 

[00:04:03] Tara: So, yeah, and we have, especially with the, I didn’t grow up with the internet, so, yeah, I grew up with, you know, like you had to listen to things and play them. And with the internet now people come in, oh, did you see this YouTube video? Did you see this? And I’m like, no it’s actually, it’s tad overwhelming for me when I do go on the internet and all I do every day is drums. So sometimes the last thing I wanna do is go on YouTube and watch a drum video. But I always get the links from our customers and I’ll make sure that I sit down and be like, okay, I’m gonna watch this. I’m gonna watch their video. I’m gonna do this. And it’s just rewarding. It’s really, it’s amazing to just be around that all the time. 

[00:04:41] Taylor: Yeah. See that surprised me a little bit about you, Tara, because I know you’re the creative one there at the store. So I’m surprised you haven’t picked up the social media component and really kind of taken it to the next level, because I think if you did, it really would go to the next level.

So, maybe something for it. 

[00:04:56] Tara: I started. Yeah I’ve started, so I personally don’t have social media. Yeah. So, it’s definitely been a learning curve. Yeah. Like getting into the store and and I use like an, I have, it’s on the iPad at work, so I’m trying to figure out, to take videos and I just got an iPhone, so I definitely…. 

[00:05:13] Taylor: Hey, you’re getting there.

[00:05:15] Tara: I’m getting there. So, Darren and I definitely made some points before the beginning of the year to have a presence on social media, but not be as I, I’m sure you guys can tell, not be so serious. It’s not, we’re in the entertainment industry, we’re not, you know, doing heart transplants. We’re not saving people from fires. We’re giving people an escape, you know, through music and yeah, be able to take themselves so seriously, then when are you gonna be able to have fun? So, that’s what I yeah, try to do and insert into you know, our socials and our emails and things like that.

[00:05:50] Taylor: That was, I was gonna say, if you can convert what you’ve done with your emails, if you can convert that to the social media side, I think you’ve got a winner. Certainly. So. 

So I did want to ask for people who are, who maybe haven’t heard of you guys before, give us a little bit of history on how kind of Dubs got started. You know, who you guys are, who your clientele are, and really kinda what your mission is. 

[00:06:12] Tara: So Dubs was started by our owner Darren Phillips. He was born and raised in the Bay Area. He was, I believe, born in Palo Alto and then spent all of his life in the Pleasanton, Dublin area. So he really has a great connection with the community. Yeah. Which I think has just been so instrumental in our success because people come in with their kids and say, oh, I went to this school. And he can say, oh, I went to that school too, and people kind of, especially if they don’t know anything about drums, that’s kind of like a comforting thing, like a sense of relief. Okay. At least, you know. Yeah. Where I’m from and you are from around here. And it was really Darren’s vision, growing up as a drummer here and most of the shops had closed. So he was working in television, video and decided that he wanted to open a drum shop and that was in… it’s been seven years. It was February, 2016. 

And so, My involvement is I was working in corporate retail and had the kind of coming of age moment after my father passed. Because we had a very big, strong bond between music. Yeah. And I decided I didn’t wanna do corporate retail. I wanted to do something more involved in music. And I said, well, I’m just gonna go to the drum shop and ask Darren for a job. And I went down there every week for six weeks until he hired me. And that was six years ago, so. 

[00:07:35] Taylor: Wow. Wow. That’s cool. 

[00:07:37] Tara: It’s amazing. And yeah, I’m, I told, and I told him when he hired me, I said, I don’t stay at jobs for less than five years, so you’re kind of stuck with me. Um, And so providing the..

[00:07:47] Taylor: Full disclosure ahead of time.

[00:07:49] Tara: Full disclosure, I told him yeah. And I am either all or nothing, and I am definitely all in on this. and Dubs, we do provide retail. We also provide lessons. We have lessons six days a week. We have the best teachers in the Bay Area. And we also, you know, pre-pandemic, we were doing clinics. I mean, every month, every other month. Sometimes we do three clinics in six weeks. And those were like really our heart and soul. Like we didn’t, yeah, we didn’t make money off doing clinics, but it was seeing the kids, these kids being able to sit in front of the drummer from Slayer, I mean, like 10 feet from his bass drum.

Yeah. Just the excitement that people get and being able to have, you know, be in the same room as these people who have just done so much with their drumming careers and really get that raw feedback from them. That was something that we just really love and we still miss, and so we’re hoping we can get back into clinics you know, this, hopefully the summer. 

[00:08:45] Taylor: Yeah I had wanted to ask you about that because I know that was something you guys were doing a lot of and I feel like personally clinics get kind of a bad rap, right? The people say, well, you know, they’re, they don’t produce revenue right away. They’re expensive, you know, it’s hard to get artists in, get ’em on the calendar, get attendees but you guys did it a lot before the pandemic, and you did it really well. What was kind of the key to success on that for you guys? 

[00:09:13] Tara: Well, the first, I believe the first clinic they had at the shop, and actually the last one we had before the pandemic was Dave Weckl and Darren’s relationship with Yamaha and some of the other brands really kind of pushed that forward and it just gave us a little more like gusto. Oh, okay, well this is what we have to do on our side to get these people in and these are the people, the companies we have to speak to and okay, I’m just gonna randomly email this drummer. I’m gonna dig and find this drummer’s email and I’ll find it and I’ll email them. Yeah. Or find their agent and see what we can do and then it just kind of, they kind of started almost coming to us like, Hey, Yamaha wants to do Yamaha Day, and we’re gonna have the drummer for Exodus there. Do you guys wanna do it? We’re like, of course we do. Yeah. And so…. 

[00:10:00] Taylor: Who’s gonna say no to that? Yeah. 

[00:10:02] Tara: Exactly. So it’s amazing to watch something turn like that where it’s you chasing after everybody and then people saying, and then us actually having to tell people, no, you know, we’re not, that’s, you know, doesn’t really fit us or it’s a timing is bad. Yeah. Is, you know, to be able to help people know is probably the greatest success because now okay, we can pick and choose like what we really want and what really gets us in the heart of drumming. So. 

[00:10:29] Taylor: Yeah. And you guys were packing ’em in. I mean, it’s not like you had a hard time filling the place either, right? I mean, you were getting the artists in, but also you were getting the you know, the students in as well, right? The people who wanted to see the artists, the attendees.

What was that like, like how did you build the reputation of, Hey, you know, we’ve got some really fantastic clinics. You guys need to get your spot early and get here early in order to take part? 

[00:10:51] Tara: I would definitely say our first and foremost, our relationship with our customers. yeah. That relationship that we have is very personal. People come in, they know my name, they know Darren’s name. Sometimes they think we’re married. And and so it’s having that, being able to say someone’s name when they come in and make a joke with them. And really just being, having that comfort level with your customers and then they feel.

Oh, okay. This is, they know what they’re doing here. I bet you they know what they’re doing here. yeah, so people would come in for clinics and our shop is only 1700 square feet. We can now, we’ve done like a little remodeling, so we could probably fit about 60 people for a clinic. But generally we were only fitting 40 to 45 people and they were, our clinics were selling out. I mean, it, we would watch the emails come in of saying, this person bought a ticket, this person bought a ticket. And we would just look at it and say, oh my God, this is really happening. and our community also spans to areas like Sacramento. You know, they have a drum area, they have Skip’s Music, which is amazing, but they don’t have a sole drum shop. And so us, being able to hit that area. And then the next big drum shop you have is Bentley’s in Fresno. So we really can kind of carry such a large community that just, yeah, is easy to pull out of and people want to do it. Yeah. People wanna be 10 feet away from the drummer, from Slayer. They wanna see Nate Smith right up close. So we give them that opportunity. Yeah. 

[00:12:19] Taylor: Yeah. And then, you know, the other thing that I think that gets really discounted on the clinic side is, you know, people say, well, you know, you’re not generating any revenue from that. It’s not bringing business in. That’s a lie. That’s not true. It is certainly, the turnaround time might be longer and maybe it’s planting seeds and building customer relationships, but certainly, you could go back and say, Hey, we have this customer today who continually comes in for accessories. Whenever they’re looking for new cymbals or a new kit, they come back to us and our first interaction with them was at one of these clinics.

Um, So you know, clinics are funny. It’s the stores who don’t do them or haven’t done them because of reasons that they feel like they’re not gonna generate revenue. That’s just a short term outlook. It’s like, look, if you’re doing ’em and you’re doing ’em the right way and you’re doing ’em consistently, that’s how you develop these long term customers who are gonna come back to you time and time again.

So, yeah I love that about you guys and yeah, I hope that you guys are successful in bringing that back and getting that moving forward again, it sounds like that’s what the plan is to start pushing on some of that again. 

[00:13:24] Tara: Absolutely. And clinics, yeah they’re an investment. It’s not an immediate return. Yeah. But I think that goes for all of small business. You, Yeah, really have to put your time and effort in before you’re gonna get those returns. and you’re exactly right, we still get people who say, oh, the first time I saw you guys was, or came in, was the Weckl Clinic seven years ago or it was the first Mike Johnston clinic that you did, And those are the people that keep coming back. And even if they don’t live in the area, oh, we’re gonna make a special trip this weekend to go to Dubs because this is what I need. Oh, Tara, do you have this? Okay. Can you put it aside for me? I just wanna check it out.

Totally. And yeah, that’s again where the relationship comes in. So it’s definitely an investment. Yeah. It’s not easy, but nothing that we’ve done really is, So if it was easy, everyone would do it. Yeah. And so here we are. 

[00:14:10] Taylor: Yeah, you’re right. Yeah, you’re absolutely right about that. You’ve mentioned it a couple times, but one of the reasons why I was really excited to chat with you today is because you know, we work with a lot of different types of stores that are, you know, they run the whole gamut. They’re full service stores. They’re selling guitars, electronics, DJ equipment, percussion, band and orchestra. I mean, they’re doing everything right. They’re doing everything. What are some of the challenges, I guess what are some of the gives and takes of picking one kind of sub-industry, in this case, drums and making that your vertical, making that your product? And kind of what was the process in selecting that? Obviously Darren’s got a drumming background but you know, you see it all the times. You see guitarists who start a store, but they’re selling everything. Why drums? 

[00:14:53] Tara: It’s really funny cause when I tell people that I run a drum shop, they say, you can make money running just drums. And I say absolutely because a lot of it definitely has to do with the area that we are in. We are in a very You know, more affluent area than most of the country.

So people here who, maybe they, we get a lot of the, I used to play when I was younger, but I had to get a real job because I had a family and now I’m retired and I can do that now. I can have the time and the resources to play full-time and play in this tribute band and do this. And that really allows us to provide only drums because those specific people know exactly what they want and what they want generally is not cheap. And for them to even just be able to trust that in us gives you like the warm and fuzzies, but it definitely, yeah, has it it’s, I always tell people if Guitar Center would’ve just stuck to guitars, they would’ve been fine, but, Some people, yeah, they want their eggs in every basket and that is just not what we are about.

And we do get, I mean this was the weirdest season of the school year when people call about instruments cuz we’ll get people asking every once in a while. Do you sell trumpets or rent trumpets? And this season, I don’t know why, but we had people calling all over for rentals for, I mean, anything from a flute to a violin. And so that was, yeah, a little odd. but it just shows you like those are still markets that people don’t cover. There’s still people who aren’t doing trumpet rentals or violin rentals in this specific area. So you have to kind of just find your niche and, you know, it just, ours just happened to be drums and Darren being, you know, in the community and me being a musician as well. and having a lot of retail experience and small business experience really, just, it was a really great, successful combination.

[00:17:54] Taylor: One of the questions I want to ask you just to follow up on that, is like, is there a temptation there? Like obviously you guys are, you know, Dubs Drum Basement, so everybody knows just from the name, Hey, this is a drum shop. Do you guys ever find yourselves being pulled in these other directions, like when you’re taking calls about the flutes and the violins, are there discussions you guys ever talk about, Hey, maybe we oughta start doing some of this other stuff or…? 

[00:18:29] Tara: Absolutely not. We are 100%, 100% settled. We, I mean, getting into like hand drumming is to me is like, oh, having a whole nother section of bongos and congas. Those are things that I am, know nothing about, like literally nothing about. And so to me that’s its own instrument. To me somebody could probably open a hand percussion store and be very successful at it. But no, we have no intention of ever expanding to anything past drums.

[00:19:00] Taylor: It’s interesting but I think it’s a smart business play. And the reason why I say that is because, and you mentioned, you know, Guitar Center for example, like, uh, someone who’s just getting into playing an instrument and that sort of thing. Maybe Guitar Center is somewhere they can go, but what you don’t get at Guitar Center and what you don’t get at Sweetwater and Sam Ash and, you know, some of these really big fish is the subject matter expert. You know, you walk into a store like that, you’re talking to an, a lot of times, not all the time, but a lot of times you’re talking to an a high school kid or you know, freshly outta high school or a college kid who, they’re majoring in business or something. They’re just filling time by working at a retail store. Your position as being a drum store is, look, if somebody’s getting into drums or they’re a, you know, really established artist or what have you, what they’re gonna get from you is significant. You know, that experience is gonna be significantly different than if they go to just a general store, right? 

[00:19:57] Tara: Absolutely. 

[00:19:57] Taylor: And I think that’s a real position of power, right? Like, I mean, that’s what people are looking for. They’re looking for subject matter experts. And then you couple that with what you talked about, that unique customer experience and the customer relationships. And that’s one of the things that I noticed your customers say about you is, look, if I walk in the door or somebody walks in the door, whether they’re a beginner or they’re an advanced drummer, they’re gonna get treated really well, right. So those two things to me are the biggest things. You’re a subject matter expert and you provide the good customer experience. People are going to come to your store. Right? 

[00:20:32] Tara: Absolutely. 

[00:20:33] Taylor: And so, so that’s cool to hear that you guys are like, no, we’re not, you know, drums, that’s all. We’re doing drums. So, yeah. So that’s great. 

[00:20:40] Tara: Sticking with it. Yeah. 

[00:20:41] Taylor: Yeah. One, kind of side note on that electronic drums are obviously kind of picking up you know, they’ve been picking up for a number of years. What are your thoughts on that? 

[00:20:52] Tara: It’s not picking up in, specifically at our shop cuz I think we have a lot more live players. We, so generally when we do carry electronic kits generally we suggest them for younger children because then they can, it’s a small investment instead of buying a whole drum set. And they can figure out, oh, okay, my, this hand does that, this hand does this or this hand does this other thing. Or we have people who live in apartments and they don’t wanna go, cuz there are routes now where you can make an acoustic kit quiet. But they don’t wanna do that. They just want something that they can kind of noodle on. So we give them an electronic kit. But it’s definitely not our specialty. I know a little more about it because I know the streaming world, it’s really really caught on having Yeah, electronic drums on things like Twitch, but for the most part we have a lot of just live players, so While we can provide those electronic kits, it’s not our number one. 

[00:21:50] Taylor: Yeah, really just catering to who your clientele is. So that’s cool. Yes. That’s good. Yeah. You had mentioned, so you guys, again, you’re kind of in a unique area where it’s pretty affluent, a lot of money, people can afford things. A lot of our stores and people who will be you know, watching the podcast It’s probably not the same there. Right? Where affordability is a really important thing. And not to say that affordability is not important for your customers. I know that it is. But can you talk a little bit about um, kind of used gear and what that, kind of what that market looks like. Do you guys do a lot of it and you know, kind of what are your tactics there? 

[00:22:25] Tara: We definitely sell a ton of used gear and also, I always have to tell people, cuz when people are come in and they are on a budget and they say, “do you have anything used?” They said. “I do and I actually have a $4,000 drum set that’s used. But I have this new one that’s, you know, maybe six or $700.” And we try and get in a lot of gear. We didn’t used to not buy gear pre-pandemic, and then when we couldn’t get gear in, we started buying gear from people. And that’s one of like the biggest joys for me is when someone comes in and they want their first drum set, but they’re on a budget and it’s okay, let’s try and throw something together for you so that you can experience playing drums for the first time and then just take it off from there because once, when you do that, that’s, you know, the look on that kid’s face when they get their first drum set is just, it’s just makes it all worth it. And so, yeah, we do try to take in stuff that kind of gets people, you know, more you know, getting their foot in the door. Because at the end of the day, we just want people to be playing. It doesn’t matter what they’re playing. It doesn’t matter how they’re playing. We want people to play and to, you know, share the love of drums that we have.

And I think that’s part of your success too, is just being able to, Like you can’t really, I mean, you have to look at things in a monetary aspect, but when you provide like, kind of like that happiness in someone’s life and it comes back to you cuz now they’re gonna come back, they’re gonna buy another drum set, they’re gonna buy that drum set they really wanted that you had in the shop, but they couldn’t afford, but now they can. And now that we’re seeing kids Grow up, we’ve seen kids who were in elementary school, now they’re in college, and they’re coming back during their summers and buying cymbals from us. And we got them that first drum set that, you know, wasn’t the $4,000 kit, but now they’re playing music in college and that’s like, I, to me, that’s, you can’t buy that. Like, that’s just the most rewarding part. 

[00:24:21] Taylor: Yeah, and it’s uh, you know, again, speaks to that idea of you know, cultivating relationships rather than kind of this transactionary model of, hey, customer in, customer out. Right. It’s uh, building relationships and having those lifelong customers. 

So you mentioned Covid a couple times. It’s been a frequent topic on our podcast. And so I’ll ask you a little bit about that as well. You know, with Covid we really saw a spike, not just in drums, I’m sure you guys saw it there, but in, really kind of all of the stores inside of the MI vertical, a real spike in new players, right? People who were stuck at home and so they needed to kind of pick up hobbies and that sort of thing. How do you feel that’s gonna play out in the coming years? You know, you talked about kind of nurturing customers from the time they were in elementary school to you see ’em back in, in their college years.

Do you feel like. There’s gonna be that opportunity for MI stores with these kinds of Covid customers or new customers who came in as they picked up hobbies during Covid? 

[00:25:21] Tara: I feel that there’s always gonna be the hobbyist, especially in, Yeah, in the music industry. I’ve always run a lot of parallels with music and sports, cuz there’s two things that I’m very passionate about but don’t really join. They always kind of run parallels is that, we are both communities supported by hobbyist players or amateur players and it’s something people can do from when they’re zero. To when they’re 70. My dad played in baseball tournaments 50 and over, 60 and over. And you can play drums 50 and over, 60 and over and Yeah. people are always gonna start that hobby and whether Covid made it…. we had to move, you know, stuff online, which was something that we were definitely new to and we were, I mean, our shop, it was just Darren and I. So we were actually able to still stay open. We had to do everything online, but we were still there grinding away and shipping. And since you couldn’t have people in the store it wasn’t, we would get more of the Well, now I’m home and I’m gonna get the drum set I’ve always wanted, cause I’m gonna be home for three months. The hobbyists are still, and they, no matter whether it was covid or not, they’re still coming in and they’re still, you know, running the, doing those things. So it didn’t have the… I wouldn’t even say it was a, like, a boost or a or if a detriment, like everything Covid just kind of. Slowed things down for a couple months and then it just kind of shot things back up. And I think the, yeah, the hobbyist and the amateur player is what supports our industry. It’s not the professionals, it’s the doctors and lawyers who are retired now and they wanna buy those kits. So, and you know, same with. You know, soccer, baseball, those are also industries that are heavily supported by, you know, their amateur players. So there’s always gonna be the hobbyist. Covid didn’t boost it for us. It’s just kind of been, it’s always been a constant within our, pretty consistent community. Yeah. 

[00:27:18] Taylor: Yeah. Yeah. That’s cool. That’s good. One of the byproducts that we saw from Covid that has impacted a lot of stores is, you know, there’s less manufacturing happening because of shutdowns. And from there, less product available than from there, you know, the demand staying consistent or maybe even growing a little bit, you know, and there’s less supply and the demand stays consistent or goes up. Prices inherently are gonna go up as well. And we’ve seen that and specifically we’ve seen that in the drum space. You know, you could go get cymbals pre covid, you could go get them for, you know, quite a bit cheaper than what you can get ’em for today. How has, kind of, that jump and pricing impacted customers from your perspective? 

[00:27:58] Tara: Gosh, it’s been a lot actually. I’ve been saying, I mean a pair of drumsticks for Covid were 10 bucks and now it’s $15. Yeah. And for the kid who’s in college or the drummer who’s touring and maybe doesn’t have an endorsement to pay $15 for a pair of sticks is kind of mind blowing. So, And maybe instead of buying two pairs, they’re buying one pair or they’re saving their money and saying, well, I know if I buy more, I can get a better deal on ’em, so I might as well just do that now.

Yeah. and so it kind of makes me sad because I feel there’s some people like, what, who’s gonna be able to afford to do this anymore if these prices are just gonna keep skyrocketing? How, who’s gonna be able to afford this? And so then it turns into this challenge of, okay, maybe drumsticks cost this much, but how can we change something else and make it you know, more affordable or more enticing for people to say, oh, okay, now it’s worth it to pay $15 for those pairs of sticks. And definitely supply chain has been I think you hear this I’m sure every time supply chain, we have things, we have drums that have been on backorder for a year. And we have companies that have, you know, we go with their ebbs and flows and it’s really tough because sometimes we can’t get a date of when we’re gonna get things in. And not only can’t we get a date, During that waiting period, there’s a price increase. And since we haven’t received an invoice, what goes up? Our price goes up. Yep. But if our customers already paid or put half down, we’re not gonna tell them, oh, by the way, you need to, it’s, you know, there’s a price increase. Right. And you need to pay this difference. Yeah. We can’t do that. So, it’s definitely been, it’s just like I, yeah. There’s times where I look at certain prices and I’m, I just look and think, man, that’s, I can’t believe that costs that much. It’s crazy. And, but it is. But now it’s all right, we’re gonna take in some used gear and we’re gonna try and get some stuff that’s a little more affordable to people. So kind of maybe playing these balancing acts. And like I said, we didn’t buy gear previous to Covid, and now we do people, you know, try to make room or they wanna get something new. Yeah, bring it in, let’s check it out. Let’s see what we can do for you. So. 

[00:30:05] Taylor: That’s awesome. 

[00:30:06] Tara: It’s definitely been, yeah. I mean, you have to really find that balance and Yeah, it’s hard, especially like, when your heart’s in it, you just don’t, I don’t wanna charge someone $15 for a pair of sticks. Yeah.

But it’s what happens and we have a really great customer base. It’s another thing. Our customers are amazing and they’re always so understanding. So, yeah. I think that has a lot to do with it too. So. Really, Really blessed in that way. 

[00:30:30] Taylor: Yeah. I mean, I mean, to me what I’m hearing is adaptability, right? Being able to adapt to the way that the market is changing, understanding your customers and being able to provide the changes that you need at the store level to keep those customers coming back and having a good experience. And that’s hard to do as a business owner, right? I mean, that’s hard to, well, first of all, nobody foresaw covid, right? Nobody’s gonna call that one before it happens. But we see this all the time, kind of maybe on a much smaller level. But as a business owner, the day-to-day, you know, consumer behavior changes, markets change, suppliers change, all of these things are changing all the time. What advice would you give to other store owners on adaptability and being able to kind of work with those different variables that you’re always having to deal with?

[00:31:21] Tara: I think that’s where the “not taking yourself so seriously” really comes into play. I mean, it’s, yeah, it is money and it is a payroll and it is all of these, Yeah, bills that you have, but if it’s fun at the end of the day, then those things come a little bit easier and I know that cuz it’s been six years and that’s what we’ve been doing for six years. And you really just have to find, okay, this is really bad right now, but how can I make it better? And finding that balance, because a lot of people will just live and, oh, this is so bad right now and I can’t, we can’t do this, we can’t afford this. Okay, well what can I do to balance that out? and just having a love for what you do, and I mean, You always hear the, you know, the saying love what you do and never work a day in your life. And I tell people, I’m like that’s bull. I said, Nope. I said, there’s days where I definitely am like, I dumped this thing, blah, blah, blah. But you know what, it’s, it lasts that long. And I will find a way to come back and we just, you know, problem solve and troubleshoot through those things. And Darren and I have such a great rhetoric with each other. And we have such great balance at the shop that it lets him kind of do the drum things cuz he’s such a savant when it comes to, he’ll look at a drum and know what it is. And when I play, I’m like, it plays, it makes noise. Okay. And I can, that leaves me to do things like the emails, the merchandising, the inventory, the spreadsheets, things, pretty much everything else.

Yeah. So he can just do the drum thing and then let me do, you know, more of that business side type stuff. So. 

[00:33:00] Taylor: More the admin stuff. Yeah. Boy, what a great balance. 

[00:33:03] Tara: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Lucky for him. One, he just gets to talk drums, 

[00:33:09] Taylor: He gets all the fun stuff. And you get the spreadsheets. So. 

[00:33:12] Tara: I get I, you know what though? I really do love spreadsheets. He got really lucky with me. 

[00:33:17] Taylor: Hey, there you go. There you go. 

[00:33:19] Tara: I love a good formula for throwing this up there. 

[00:33:22] Taylor: Hey. Yeah, well, I need help, so I might be reaching out to you. So, last kind of question, pandemic related. So I just wanna go back to something you mentioned a little bit earlier.

So you said, you know, pre- covid we weren’t really doing a lot online. That’s obviously had to change a little bit. That’s picked up for you. What has that change been like and how have you incorporated that into the business? 

[00:33:43] Tara: We still do, I’d say 90% of our sales in-store. We do have a Reverb shop. We do use our website. Drums are very hard and expensive to ship, so that is something that we, When we were building a website and using Music Shop 360 to kind of have that retail aspect of people being able to buy things online was still, even now I’m still very, you know, I have a lot of trepidation. I’m like, oh, I don’t know. Is this gonna be the right cost? But it’s actually much easier and it’s more of, I like using the internet as the venue of people to see, oh, they have that kit and then it gets them to call and then maybe they get to come in. Yeah. And It was definitely a really big learning experience during Covid, but again, since it was just Darren and I, it was, you know, our communication is back and forth. It’s not going up a ladder of people. Yeah. So it was, we could make mistakes and it was just like, oh, okay, well I guess that’s on us cuz it’s just us. But it definitely, it’s not our. It’s not our bread and butter, it’s there. Yeah. And I, we try to use it to our advantage and to get just maybe attention I think is probably, yep, our biggest use of being online and then, you know, reeling it in from there. Cuz even we’ll get, You know, drummers who wanna do clinics. Oh wow, I saw that you had this kit. You know, I am endorsed by this company and maybe I could do a clinic. 

And again, it comes, all, comes back to that, back to the relationships and yeah, you can have a relationship with people online. I think that’s something actually Sweetwater does really well. When you buy anything from them, yeah, you always get a call and they’re trying to, that’s how they create their relationships. But You know, with drums and music and people just, you know, they wanna see your face and yeah and we like that. So it’s just, yeah, that’s, you know, that’s, that is our specialty. We’re not internet gurus. I’m just an email guru and soon to be social media guru with your help. 

[00:35:40] Taylor: There you go. Yeah. There you go. So it’s cool. So on the Music Shop 360 side, we get to see all the data, right? And see how things are kind of playing out at a store level.

And you made an interesting point there about the website and this is true. The website certainly is a really great channel For sales, like you’re definitely gonna have online sales, but the real value in the website is exactly what you talked about. These players, even amateur players, all the way from beginners to advanced and serious players a lot of time their interest is peaked by going on the website, seeing your inventory but then what they do is instead of putting it into a shopping cart online, they come into the store, they walk through the door. They play the instrument and then they buy the instrument. So it’s a really great gateway for getting somebody interested in the product, but then ultimately it leads to increased foot traffic of the store.

So we talk to stores all the time that say, Hey, you know what, yeah, I definitely want to have a website, but I don’t wanna be doing all, you know, I don’t want to deal with shipping and all that stuff. And for us it’s like, That’s fantastic. That’s exactly what’s going to happen, but you still need to have the website up.

So having that you know, integrated website with that point of sale, like you’d mentioned that’s really critical, right? Your customers just being able to see and know, hey, if I see it on Dubs website today, I can go walk through the door and I know that product’s gonna be sitting on the floor and I can go play it and see if it’s gonna be the right instrument for me.

And so I wish more people understood that’s really what the value of the website is. To create awareness for the products that you physically have in store. Musicians need to play the instruments before they, especially you know, people who are serious about it. They need to play it before they just, you know, shell out for it. And so the website is really the vehicle to get them physically in the doors. So that’s great. 

I’m gonna ask you, this is a tough one. Actually two, two last questions and we’ll wrap up. So before I get to the really tough one, let me ask you one other one. So, if there is a store out there listening or watching the podcast that is contemplating starting an MI store. What advice would you give to them?

 What is the bottom line advice that you would give somebody who’s saying besides, don’t do it, right. That’s not the advice I want you to give… 

[00:37:53] Tara: No, I just say that for restaurants. 

[00:37:55] Taylor: For us, yeah. Don’t do the restaurant thing. 

[00:37:57] Tara: I had a restaurant for 13 years. Don’t do that. 

[00:37:59] Taylor: Oh. So from experience, you know, don’t do the restaurant.

[00:38:02] Tara: Yes. Yeah. Don’t do a restaurant. Get a food truck. That’s what I tell people. 

[00:38:05] Taylor: There you go. 

[00:38:07] Tara: My advice to them would be to really invest in your community and invest in your employees, because when you treat your employees well, you pay your employees well, you take care of them, they will reciprocate so much. And that is why I’ve been at Dubs for six years. Darren’s been so great to me and just letting me be like so free with, you know, my creativity and writing and merchandising. That’s something that a lot of people don’t get, especially women in this industry. There are not. When I first started at the shop, that was, it was hard for guys to talk to me. Guys would ask me a question and then wait. And Darren would come in and they’d ask him the same question, and Darren was so great. He’d say, Tara, did they ask, did they already ask you this question? And I’d say, yes, they did, and I answered it and so really investing in all types of people that are gonna come into your store, whereas Darren is somebody who’s very experienced in the drumming world within the community. I am not. So when people come in and especially women, they’re, they say, I don’t know anything about drums. I know how to talk to them. I know I can relate to them. And you really have to find those gems of people.

And again, it’s all investment. You’re not gonna get a huge return right away on certain things. And you have to be ready to, you know, just pay bills for a couple years and really get those people that you want to stay or that are in your industry and that people want to talk to. When we do have other people, we, a couple other people that work there, they are touring drummers and people wanna hear what they have to say and what their advice is.

So, really it’s just taking the time and investing in people that love what they’re doing and that you are going to treat them Like they run the store, like that’s their store. And yeah. And I think that is the key to success for, and I know, yeah, from even being in the restaurant industry, you have to take care of your employees. 100%. 

[00:40:09] Taylor: Yeah. Yeah. That’s great advice. Uh, Yeah, that’s really fantastic. Really appreciate that response there. And I think everybody can utilize that whether you’re know, restauranting or you’re getting into the MI industry or anything else, right? It’s about taking care of your people, both your internal customers, your employees and your external customers, you know, the people who come in and use their hard-earned money on your products and spend dollars with you. So, that’s great. 

So this is my tough question here. 

[00:40:37] Tara: Okay. 

[00:40:38] Taylor: Everyone has a hard time with this one. So I’m gonna ask you to look into your crystal ball. 

[00:40:43] Tara: Okay. 

[00:40:43] Taylor: And forecast, if you can, any changes you see coming in the drum space specifically, but then more broadly music instrument retail as a whole. What do you think? 

[00:40:55] Tara: What do I think? I think it’s, you can really look, especially at music right now, that technology is king right now. So you are seeing a lot of electronics. You are seeing a lot of music being more created on a computer as opposed to an instrument because it’s easier. You can grab, you can download Ableton, you can download these programs and and just push your keyboard button And you have music. Yeah. And I really kind of almost see that as a renaissance for the industry because now we have these vehicles on these computers that can do all of these things that, you know, you needed a sound person and all this other stuff to do, now you have a computer to do it. So now, yeah, you can do that. And now you can go learn guitar and you can learn your guitar, and now you can go learn drums and you can do that. Now you can go learn bass. And I think we’re gonna really see a renaissance of the instrumentalist coming back because even though technology is coming through within music and like electronic music, it’s really gonna bring back those people.

Now they have. Something to hold onto all that music. Oh, well, I always wanted to go do okay. I’m gonna try it and I’m gonna record it on our computer. So yeah, I think that’s really what we’re gonna see and it’s really gonna, I think, it’s gonna bring live music to you know, to a different space that maybe people weren’t able to do before. So, yeah. That’s definitely where, where I think, see it going.

[00:42:19] Taylor: That’s great. That goes down as perhaps the best answer I’ve had to that question. Yeah, that was a good one. You did well. So that’s cool. 

Well, good. Before we wrap up again, I just want to say thank you, Tara, for spending some time with us and I always like to reiterate that you know, I know it’s a big sacrifice to take you away from the store and spend time with us.

So I really do genuinely appreciate that. And I know the listeners and watchers do as well. Tell us just before we go how can people find you, your web address, your physical address, how can they reach you? 

[00:42:48] Tara: We are Dubs Drum Basement. We are located at 6715 Dublin Boulevard, suite K in Dublin, California in the United States. Our zip code is 94568. Our website is Make sure you go there, sign up for our emails if you want a good laugh. If you don’t earn into the email thing, we post them on our blog on our website as well. So, if you wanna give us a ring and leave a voicemail to a voice mailbox that we’d really check that phone number, (925) 361-8112.

Your best bet would be to shoot us an email, which would be 

[00:43:27] Taylor: Yeah. Anybody who’s looking for their next kit or just getting interested or started in drums, check out Dubs. You’re not gonna find anybody doing it better. So thanks Tara again, and really appreciate your time today.

[00:43:38] Tara: Of course. Thank you. 

[00:43:39] Taylor: Thank you.