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How to start a music store?

I have been looking into purchasing an existing music store business in Illinois. However, the stores that are or have been available are not what I am looking for and would cost more to liquidate than to start off fresh.
Where do I start in opening a brand new music store for the sale of instruments and pro audio. The real estate is not a problem.
Thanks for all of your input.
T. :roll:


Pro Audio Guest Tue, 06/26/2007 - 18:44
After 18+ years in business, shut 2 stores down just over a year ago. I had many reasons to do so - rent increase, selling more to make less, health, etc. but mainly just burnt out. There are many good points made above, and many reasons to stay away from retail - its way harder now than it was, and will most likely get harder. With that said, the established independents I still stay in contact with say they've never seen it this slow, while 2 new smaller stores that opened after I closed are excited and doing well by their expectations.
Don't know your area, but in general, most independents that are still doing well are concentrating on alternate brands as well as service, and especially lessons. Some good news for upstarts is that many manufacturers are hungry for dealers and have drastically reduced their requirements for carrying their line - some brands that use to require thousands or dozens, are giving dealers a shot with just a few peices.
Can't say its a good time or agreat business to get into, but if you do - find a niche, know your product, service your customers and be passionate about it - start slow and small, and avoid debt.
To finally answer your question - call up the manufacturers you're interested in carrying, get a hold of a sales rep (you'll be surprised at how easy or difficult this is with various companies), ask them their requirements and recomendations as well as advice on location. Also, contact NAMM - - there's a trade show in Austin in July - great place to start. GOOD LUCK !

sheet Sat, 06/23/2007 - 13:46
Why? Take the money and invest in your retirement.

You are competing against Guitar Center, which sells the most on the planet, you are competing against all other internet and mail order houses. You will buy a Shure SM58 for $69 to 89 buck and sell them for 99, Guitar Center and the other super volume guys pay less than 39.

Do you have credit and lots of it?

Why don't you talk to a Peavey sales rep to see if they can give you insight. You need a brand that has appeal to the blue collar crowd, and Peavey sells the same price to all dealers.

BobRogers Sat, 06/23/2007 - 14:06
You begin by writing a business plan that starts with the following - Nationwide, thousands of local music stores have been driven out of business by internet sales and big box retailers. My store will succeed where others have failed because....

As sheet says, you can't compete with the big guys on a head to head basis. You have to offer something that they don't. Ideally you have to have a niche that you can either market over the internet or something that can't be easily sold over the internet like repair and music lessons.

Go to your local small business administration for advice, classes, etc. This is really more of a pure business question than a music business question. You may have ideas about what you want to do, but you need to figure out what kind of capital and cash flow you need to make it work. And you need to realistically assess the competition for doing just that.

Thomas W. Bethel Sun, 06/24/2007 - 07:32
Almost all of the local "mom and pop" music stores here have been forced out of business within the last five years. One of the biggest local area music retailers, Lentine's Music, just closed their doors and the owner went to work for Sweetwater. Unless you have some super idea of how to compete against places like GC, Sam Ash, and Sweetwater I think you should save your money. Today it is all about volume buying and super saturated advertising and unless you have very deep pockets you are not going to be able to compete.

Just to site an example of how things have changed. Our local Army Navy store now buys the socks he has for sale at the local WALMART as they are cheaper than he can get them from his distributor and this same scenario is also happening in audio sales. You can buy a Shure microphone from GC cheaper than you can if you are a Shure retailer directly from Shure. It is all about VOLUME and not about how good you are at selling.

This reply is not designed to make your stop dreaming but I think as others have pointed out if you sit down and do a business plan you will have to answer some very tough questions and if you do this truthfully it may be an eye opener...

You might want to start here


freesignal Sun, 06/24/2007 - 08:50
Wow, what a bunch of "Dream-Killers." :(

Unfortunately, I have to agree with all of you. We have basically 2 local music stores here in Tucson that I even consider maybe kinda sorta on a good day 'competetors' with our 1 local Guitar Center. Rainbow Guitars and Guitars Etc. The only thing that I think that keeps them a float and sets them a part is that they charge a few bucks more than G.C. for a given product (but will pricematch with G.C. or MusiciansFriend with an ad) presumibly to make up for sales lost to G.C. and they are WAY more customer oriented. Rainbow also has an amazing repair shop. So much so that when big name artists come to town they often visit and/or have work done to their guitars/equipment by these guys. I don't know about Guitars Etc. but Rainbow also does music lessons. The thing is, these are not new upstarts, they are businesses that are reputible and well established and have been for years. So, again, save your money friend.


moonbaby Sun, 06/24/2007 - 11:31
I owned and managed a few local music stores many years ago. Back then, my competition was Sam Ash, 30-40% discounts on stuff. Now with a GC in every city, I'd hate to be a local store. The only ones I've seen survive had a niche in repairs, rentals, consignments, and lessons. Like somebody else already said, you have to have a focused goal to deliver a needed service that the area will support...