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For this month’s e-mail I feel like doing a mild rant mixed with a bit of business model explanation. The great Lance Lerman, philosopher and builder of LsL Instruments has a saying: “Don’t sell any guitar you don’t want to keep”. I think these are words to live by and so, this has become my mantra here at Golden Age. When I buy I guitar, be it new or used, that I am going to hang on the wall at GA, it’s always a guitar I want to own. In fact, I DO own ‘em. That means I believe in them. It’s very easy to run a business model that represents seventy five builders guitars when you don’t have to own many (or any for that matter) of them. In fact at one Healdsburg show I witnessed a dealer (who will remain nameless) drop a card on each table asking if the builder in question wanted to have him represent his line. Now how can you possibly believe in the guitars of every builder at a large show such as Healdsburg. One advantage my model affords me is that never hesitate to back in trade a guitar that I had originally sold to the client. If I bought a guitar from a dealer and they refused it as a trade my head would explode. Of course I occasionally take in Mexican Fenders or some Asian guitars that are not necessarily world class guitars, but I do check them thoroughly to make sure that they are excellent examples and that they perform as well as one can expect from a budget priced instrument. An example of how I judge what companies I want to have a relationship with, I originally did not want to carry the D’Angelico line until Bill Comins became involved with them. Bill is one of the absolute best archtop makers on the planet, so when he showed me the models he redesigned for them and also told me of his involvement in overseeing production at the Korean manufacturing facility, I jumped on board as fast as you can imagine. When the latest guitars arrived from Korea I was floored by the quality. Bill absolutely came through on his end of the project.
And Golden Age has a brick and mortar storefront too. Every guitar on our stock list is on display and ready for you to play. No going over to someone’s house and having to ask to play everything. Golden Age offers a comfortable “hands on” guitar shopping experience. You can help yourself to anything you’d like to play. When I initially started Golden Age I worked from home and the experience was not a great one. I never find it a comfortable situation shopping in someone else’s home and I’ll bet most of you don’t either. And guess what? I actually have regular business hours too! Appointments are optional. It would be very easy (and inexpensive) for me to go internet and by appointment only, but I prefer to do it the old school way; a comfortable store where players can hang and meet other players as well as try out some world class instruments through some of the finest amplification available. It’s like having your own clubhouse which makes me happy allows me to be my charming, witty and fun to hang with self (well, most of the time at least).
In summary, it’s all about relationships. My relationship with the instruments, your relationship with me and Golden Age and also, the customer’s relationship with the instruments they purchase here. It’s my job to make sure that last one is a great relationship that will, in turn, lead to a positive relationship between me and the clients, which is one of the most enjoyable aspects of what I do. Even when people don’t buy, I’m always glad to see them, to talk guitars with them and generally enjoy the time spent. When discussing the store with others I always mention that 99% of my interactions with customers are positive ones. I think that’s because I’m doing something I love and clients are spending their downtime be around something they love – guitars.
PS. I’ve finally gotten in an appreciable number of Tom Andersons and they certainly have all the juice I was hoping for. Especially the Drop T. It’s very light (7 lbs., 3 oz.) beautiful, plays like a laser and has array of tones to die for. Come on in and try them out if you’re local.