Mom & Pop Music Stores In The UK

Reports from the United Kingdom

Mom & Pop Music Stores In The UK

Postby (admin) » Wed Mar 07, 2012 4:06 pm

In Canada many of the Mom & Pop music stores have been bought out by the big national chains. I am wondering if the same thing is taking place in the UK where there has been perhaps a longer tradition of independent music retailers supported by a larger population base.
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Re: Mom & Pop Music Stores

Postby (bitzerguy) » Wed Mar 07, 2012 4:16 pm

In the Quebec region we have actually seen a modest increase in Mom & Pop music stores, along with a considerable increase in the number of independent, or boutique, instrument builders. In the Montreal area alone there are over 10 new small independent music stores that have opened up. Very few carry high end instruments, however. Most favor the lower priced, higher volume instruments, and many carry only foreign "copy" instruments. Many of the local luthiers and amp builders are "going it alone" and using on-line stores and direct sales, primarily because the new independent shops don't have the financial ability to carry many high end instruments.

I'm not sure this translates across the country though, where chains like L&M have a good foothold (there are none in Quebec).
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Re: Mom & Pop Music Stores In The UK

Postby (admin) » Thu Mar 08, 2012 4:12 am

Thanks for your detailed response Dean with regard to Quebec. :) I wish we had that same sort of diversity here. The internet has certainly become a great tool for advertising and selling.
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Re: Mom & Pop Music Stores In The UK

Postby (Fretjob) » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:09 am

I don’t have any wide UK perspective or insight on this, but my impression is no. There’s no, one dominant national chain taking over music shops. My experience is that they are still largely independent retailers.

A few 2-3 shop enterprises have popped up over the years generally basing themselves in one region and specializing accordingly. I Live in Aberdeen Scotland where there is a grand total of 2 Music Shops. Coincidentally, one recently folded after 50 odd years and a chain moved in (Guitar_Guitar), however there were other reasons aside for that happening.

Guitar Guitar advertises itself as the UK’s largest music store. http://www.guitarguitar.co.uk/contact.asp. Only 5 shops shough, (6 with the Aberdeen one).

It does have a fair stock of Rickenbackers available from it's online store. http://www.guitarguitar.co.uk/brands.as ... ckenbacker
I've no idea where they are stocked though as i've never seen one locally. As noted in other threads, they are also have the limited edition Walnutburst finish, exclusive to Guitarguitar
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Re: Mom & Pop Music Stores In The UK

Postby (admin) » Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:43 am

Bill: Your experience in Scotland closely resembles that which I have observed here in Eastern Canada until quite recently.

The larger big box stores have allowed me to see more instruments (not Rickenbackers as yet but I am hoping) than I would have had access to in our mom and pop store.

When price is king the long time support of the independent store seems to be quickly forgotten and the lone wolf cannot get the same dealer pricing as the pack it seems.

Also, I can purchase products on line that are often cheaper than the local store and get them wholesale. The world has become a scary place when it comes to retail sales.

I very much appreciate you taking the time to comment on your experience with regard to this subject.
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Re: Mom & Pop Music Stores In The UK

Postby (Fretjob) » Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:46 pm

I have to agree that price is becoming king. I myself made my most recent guitar purchase from what I could see was the cheapest and most reputable seller I could find on the net. It was still from a “Mom and Pop” outfit in the UK so arguably I’m still supporting the small independents, just not the ones in my area. :(

There’s no question that if the products or range was stocked locally, I would pay a premium to be able to try and buy locally. It’s just a matter of how much more. I don’t think the situation has ever changed though, it’s just moving a lot faster these days. I’ll give you an example.

Back in 78 or 79 I really wanted a Peavy T40. I saw it in McCormacks in Glasgow, Scotland (The shop still exists) for I think £399. However, I saw it also advertised in the New Musical Express (or some similar national music paper), for £299 in London. I was a student then, and it was worth my while for both me and my mate to make the 800 mile round trip in his beat up old car. We made the trip, leaving at 10:00pm on the Friday night, picked up the bass Sat afternoon and we were back in Glasgow late on the Sat night and I think I was still £50-£60 quid up on the deal. Great times. :D

In Scotland as a whole.

Aberdeen has a population of 210,000
Glasgow around 520,000
Edinburgh around 490,000

And in total Scotland only has a population of 5 million plus.

As a comparison, London has a population of over 7 Million on it’s own, and there are several other large cities in England (Birmingham with over 1,000,000 for example) that allow retailers in these areas to have higher turnovers, hold bigger stock etc with the result that I can usually get a better deal from elsewhere in the UK.

Anyway, I’ve no idea where all that came from, but thought I’d flesh out what I’d written before with a bit more background :D
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