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Interesting.

GC's business model, as explained here, is an odd one. The notion of the retail stores effectively being a system of "distributed warehouses" for their online business is clever (supporting both nationwide physical and online retail with the same infrastructure) but also quite expensive from a real estate perspective and cumbersome in terms of logistics. Their real estate costs have to be massive. Huge amount of floor space devoted to a product line that simply can't be packed in as tight as things like groceries, clothing, or home improvement supplies.

If these guys are correct, these little ticky-tack moves like shorting vendor payments and making managers pull triple duty during the COVID crisis do indicate a cash crunch. My guess is that GC thinks it can fuck over small-time vendors like Rickenbacker and Fortin without suffering any real consequences. GC has sort of a symbiotic relationship with Gibson and Fender, so undoubtedly anyone outside of that should be taking very good care of their non-GC business portfolio.

For me, GC went south years ago. I still go there when I need basics in a hurry, but the new guitar offerings don't have much pull for me and the used guitars that I'd be interested in are often wildly mispriced and with little or no haggling possible. Even the basic stuff, like strings, isn't as good as it used to be, as they've quietly cut back on the variety of their inventory. Still better than smaller mom-and-pop stores, but often not as good as larger independent stores (at least around here).
 

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I sold a couple ultra-cheapo guitars to GC in the last month and got cash right in the store. Even if I took a hit, it was worth it not to have to try to sell them on Reverb or eBay, and Atomic Music is really only buying the more desirable stuff (basically, anything that says "Fender" or "Gibson" on it) right now.

It's hard to say whether I got 65%, since I'm not sure what the baseline valuation would have been on these. Still, I did notice that the Fairfax store's used inventory was on the light side. I also noticed that even their new guitar inventory was WAY down from pre-COVID levels.
 

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Guitar and drum department dropped WAY off. The floor and walls used to be packed similar to Mars, it took a few years to drop off but I'd say it's about 1/4 the amount of stuff there used to be. Floor is so sparse it's depressing. It used to be rows and rows of amps, shelves stacked two tall and now there's maybe three or so shelves with one or two amps on the, everything else sits on the floor. Lots of shitty beginner flavor of the week cheap guitars that big brands are pushing or their in-house brand. Can't find an Orange in there that's not a Crush, can't find a Peavey in there that's not a Vypyr.
My closest GC--Fairfax City--is like that, and it's gotten much worse since the lockdowns. I was in there a couple weeks ago, and it looked like half the rackage for new guitars was empty. Interestingly, they still have a fair number of custom shop Gibsons and high-end PRS guitars mixed in with the Chinese/Indonesian stuff. Weirdly laid out, too. The $5,000 guitars are reachable by foot traffic but on locked hangars. Meanwhile, $1,000 or so Charvels and Ibanez Premiums are way high up on the wall and unreachable.

Sometime in the last year, they remodeled the store so that the entire front half is now devoted to DJ crap. That tells you all you need to know about the musical instrument business, I guess...

The entire operation looks like it's owned and run by executives who (1) don't know shit about the gear biz and (2) don't give a shit, either.
 

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We have three GCs in NoVA, and I've never even been to the one in Alexandria. Fairfax was OK when Steve had some autonomy there, but has generally sucked since, and Seven Corners is a continual slide into awfulness.
It used to be worth a trip 'round to the various GCs just to check out what was going on, since they were all somewhat different. Corporate appears to have cracked down big time on that. The local GCs have about as much variation now as Walmart or Target.

It really is astounding how the GC executive team has done everything they can to make the stores as unappealing as possible. I feel sorry for the people working there. Understaffed, cheap crap merchandise, and obviously no support from upper management. There always used to be at least a couple people at every GC who genuinely enjoyed their jobs selling gear to people. I haven't seen that at GC in a long time.
 

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Atomic Music here in the DC area has survived and thrived, in part, by offering a fairer return on gear sales. You won't get the same you'd get by selling it yourself, but you won't get ripped off either. They're also pretty generous with trades and cultivate great deals for frequent customers. I've been hanging out there for so many years and bought so many guitars that I almost always get a way better deal on buying guitars than I could get on Reverb or eBay. Plus, I get to try it first.

Selling guitars online and shipping them is such a huge hassle that I've sold some nice guitars to Atomic at moments when I just didn't want to deal with it all or didn't have time to.
 
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