Posted by: nickgerlich | September 13, 2007

The Day The Music Died

I knew it was going to come to this. When Guitar Center opened their Amarillo store last spring, it was only a matter of time before the nationwide chain put the squeeze on a local retailer.

After all, a city of 185,000 can only consume so many guitars, keyboards, and amps. And so it is with sadness that I read in the morning paper today that Randy’s Music Mart is closing its doors.

Randy'sOwner Randy Tupin still plans to keep his Pro Audio/Video business in opeation, serving clients who need temporary or permanent sound installations, but gone forever are his retail days. The big box retailers and mail order houses like MusiciansFriend and Music 123 have been hammering nails in the coffin lid for too long.

Randy is a great guy. I will never forget the level of service and professionalism I received when purchasing gear for our former church. While we did not have a 6-figure budget, he took the time to work with us, and even matched many prices he knew we could find on the internet. The musicians who worked there were all accomplished, yet never looked down their noses at people who simply wanted to make a little music.

On top of the retail onslaught from out-of-town competitors, Randy struggled with the fact that more and more musical instruments are coming from China. While my wife-the-guitarist-in-our-family bought a lot of stuff from Randy, she also purchased a $1000 guitar from an online vendor once. That nice guitar, much to my surprise, had the “Made In China” sticker on the back. Randy wanted nothing more than to be part of both the local and the broader national economies by selling American-made instruments.

But the evolution of retailing is seldom kind. Vulnerable vendors are chewed up and spit out with alarming regularity these days. And it often does not matter if retailers like Randy have altruistic goals of fueling the local economy. When shoppers can buy guitars at rock-bottom prices down the street or online, it’s pretty easy to follow their footsteps or clickstream.

Farewell, Randy, and thank you.

Dr “Sad To See You Go” Gerlich


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