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OldSchool Blacksmith
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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
I sold my kids Simmons electric drumset to my local GC saturday. It was pretty quick and they gave me 50% of what it retails for, and in cash on the spot, so I was good with it (turned right around and sent the cash to Josh - :lol: ). But walking around the picked over store had the feeling like I was in a Going Out Of Business liquidation sale.

I miss Chuck Levins and Venemanns from the 80s... thankfully we have two local stores here that are sort of the same, just not as cool.
 

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Premium Member
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I miss Chuck Levins and Venemanns from the 80s... thankfully we have two local stores here that are sort of the same, just not as cool.
I hated hated HATED when Veneman's sold out, but I couldn't blame them.

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.
 

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Hates Richie Kotzen
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If GC goes down, I don't think it'll be mom and pop stores that take it's place. It'll be Amazon. :\
I already buy all the music stuff I can off Amazon, or from Amazon through legit partners. :lol:

Amazon might be a morally questionable monopoly, but at least they are reliable in getting shit to people. I'm not sure I would put GC/Musicians Friend conglomerate above them. More a "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" kind of thing. It would be trading one incompetent faceless mega corp for another slightly more competent faceless mega corp.

Also, while Jeff Bezos's ultra monopoly is concerning, someone has to be the richest man in the world. Jeff Bezos is kind of a tool, but Elon Musk is like, #4 right now. Or was recently, depending on markets.

I'll take Jeff Bezos controlling the monopoly over Elon Musk. Or anyone else who would be in a position to do it. Some Sheik or Sultan, the new class of Chinese ultra wealthy, the Murdochs, etc. etc. etc.
 

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Premium Member
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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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Arrr, Matey!
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Can't watch videos of people talking.

Re: GC and the downturn, I've mentioned it before but the local GC absolutely slaughtered the Mars Music and Daddy's Junky Music we used to have in Albany, and it was a damn shame.

The Mars was PACKED full of gear, you could barely walk through the place and the recording section had a fully dressed up and functioning recording studio that looked like fuckin' Abbey Road, it was amazing. They'd have musicians nights out, which were typically gimmicks to promote new gear but it was free food and jam sessions, sometimes a clinic and it was a fantastic environment. Great prices too. Besides 'family friend' small store purchases, that's where all of my first several pieces of gear came from.

Daddy's was a staple here for ages, and the clinics they'd get for free were insane. Billy Sheehan and Mangini, Greg Koch, Andy Timmons and some others I'm forgetting. The used gear was nuts, new stuff every time you'd go there and the system was great where you could have stuff sent there from another store for free, they encouraged you to buy but could get stuff sent there just to try out.

GC came in and it was packed like Mars but they had so many exclusives. I dunno if they were paying more or if it was just a more convenient system but everyone seemed to gravitate toward trading their gear in there pretty quick after they opened. Their access to other stores sucked (used to have to buy the item and pay shipping from one store to the next) and they had little to no clinics. They had drum or guitar competitions a couple times in the first year or two but after they killed Mars and Daddy's, they stopped community events all together.

The store itself also went way downhill. They had a recording section that mimicked Mars but smaller and more modern, not even remotely functional. Eventually all the functional items came out and it was just displays, and some years back, it emptied out almost entirely and usually it's all empty floor space with one rack of studio speakers on a table and that's it.

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.
Mars and Daddys were awesome back in the day... my first Gibson was a used Les Paul Studio I got from there. My first real guitar I got from Drome Sound. Now Drome Sound doesn't have much to choose from. Guitar Center is a joke. So really the only place left within 20 miles is Parkway. I'm friends with one of the owners, he's a great guy and always willing to help. Great inventory too.. just not typically the stuff I'm looking for. I'm glad they are doing well.

The only good thing out of Guitar Center for me is the return policy and occasionally the used section. You never know when they will make something incorrectly and at a steal compared to what it is worth. And it being close by, I can order, try at home, and then return it if it sucks (which has been a bunch of stuff over the years).
 

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Señor Member
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It really is astounding how the GC executive team has done everything they can to make the stores as unappealing as possible.
It's actually depressing to be in there, like, to such a degree that calling it 'depressing' doesn't fully convey how bad it is.

It used to have a counter when you came in where there'd be a greeter who also checked 'trades' at the door and they'd check receipts on the way out the door. Counter is still there but now it's literally always stacked with empty boxes. The accessories room used to have pedal displays/kiosks in the middle with a couple guitars hung up to jam and some fresh trades hanging on the wall, that room was totally gutted and it's got like three big black boxes that are supposed to be the lesson rooms or something. They used to have one desk near the high end gear what was the guitar sales desk, with a setup bench near the middle of the store and a 'repairs' guy desk on the opposite end, both repair and setup benches completely gone, the 'sales' desk no longer has registers, it's just basically an open air break/meeting space, I think there's only one actual register in the whole building. The bass room used to have basses floor to ceiling, it's literally just empty hangers new with maybe 4 or 5 hanging around ground level and a couple amps sitting in the middle. The whole store is just littered with empty boxes also.
 

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Señor Member
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@Alan I've had a pretty good relationship with Drome Sound for a while, they used to be a totally honeyhole for used gear and they'd also offer stuff below MSRP without even having to ask. It's kinda dried up the last few years, ownership and management is mostly unchanged but the people working the floor did and I noticed a big change in the stock along with it, kind of a bummer. Used to be a hangout for musicians and people with other shops even, so you'd get a good mix of used gear but it's dwindled to half or less what it was before. First 7-string guitar I ever put my hands on was a COW 7 they had at the previous store.

Love Parkway and the guys there. Even if I don't do all my shopping there, that's how you run a music store. Lots of stuff, great energy, lots of guys that are out in the community gigging or teching, etc. That's the right kind of environment and mix of gear for a shop, feels a little congested and as big as Clifton Park is, I feel like they'd do even better in Albany but still, that's prolly the only local shop that doesn't feel like it's dying or dead (including GC).

I think they all caught their ass with Craigslist and Reverb, tbh. From a buyer's end, I prefer buying from a store because they prices are honestly close and it's nice to buy gear, and be able to return or have it serviced where you got it from. But as a seller, I can stomach a 5% - 10% cut going to shipping and fees plus waiting a few days to a week, versus bringing stuff in to the music store and getting kicked in the balls with a low-ball offer and settling on 50%. Used gear is what makes a music store, otherwise you might as well buy from Amazon.
 

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Premium Member
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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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Read Only
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Mars and Daddys were awesome back in the day... my first Gibson was a used Les Paul Studio I got from there. My first real guitar I got from Drome Sound. Now Drome Sound doesn't have much to choose from. Guitar Center is a joke. So really the only place left within 20 miles is Parkway. I'm friends with one of the owners, he's a great guy and always willing to help. Great inventory too.. just not typically the stuff I'm looking for. I'm glad they are doing well.

The only good thing out of Guitar Center for me is the return policy and occasionally the used section. You never know when they will make something incorrectly and at a steal compared to what it is worth. And it being close by, I can order, try at home, and then return it if it sucks (which has been a bunch of stuff over the years).
Daddy's was awesome, but towards the end they definitely went the way of the snobby music poser when it comes to staff. We had a big one up here in Danvers, MA and while the kid in me was sad to see it go, the adult in me doesn't miss it.
 

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Shredding 'till dead
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I miss Mars alot. Kinda liked it more than GC, although the stock would get banged up too easily due to the stores extra liberal 'grab whatever you want and play without asking' policy. Luved the way that place was layed out and so many great memories of playing the entire Jackson USA select line at the one by me, plus a crazy tricked out purple BC Rich USA custom shop made just for the store. In my area they actually got sued locally by a neighborhood grocery store chain with the same name. They had to go under an acronym in order order to remain in the area: M.A.R.S. or Music And Recording Superstore. Was considered in part as something that hurt them since there was a legal battle apparently, but the primary reason was apparently rapid over-expansion (?). Shame, killer store and luved the philosophy behind it even though it was kinda a double edge sword for it.

I know Atomic Music as well. I liked that store more around the time Mars and Guitar Center just opened up in my home state but not as much recently as I used to. Store still has a certain je ne sais quoi though and is kinda unique still.

I wouldn't be suprised if GC bit the dust in part due to COVID. Last time I walked into my local GC, the stock was really low. I also think the quality of what gets stocked in the store these days is not as good as it used to be and is hurting it a bit, but I think its online used gear search/section has had a lot to offer.
 

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Dream Crusher
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21,053 Posts
Sam Ash is still around. Dunno how well they're doing, but they seem to be plugging along despite Music Row closing and GC going out of their way to open a branch down the street from every major Sam Ash store.
 

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Premium Member
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13,448 Posts
Sam Ash is still around. Dunno how well they're doing, but they seem to be plugging along despite Music Row closing and GC going out of their way to open a branch down the street from every major Sam Ash store.
There was a pretty big Sam Ash near where I lived up until early last year. I thought it shut down from lack of business, but it just moved to a new location less than a mile away that happened to be about half the size. While I was selling my guitars and other gear on Reverb at the time, I sold my pedals and less pricey stuff at Sam Ash. I remember they gave me a decent price for my Vox wah-wah pedal. $45 or $50 if I remember correctly. I had some guitars listed on Reverb for as long as 4-6 months before I agreed to a price (I was flooded with lowball offers and trade offers, though, some for really nice guitars), and even then it was still only about 50% of what I originally paid, maybe a little more than that.
 
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