Canadian Music Trade - June/July 2017 - Page 25

you are about new products when released,” says Popiez, describing it as something of a hybrid that lets retailers maintain a voice and presence in the online environment while still funneling attention towards the physical store. As with anything, the results will vary depending on a number of factors. Beshara says that, while his business has been working to bolster their online presence, he hasn’t seen many tangible benefits of that, and says that 95 per cent of sales at Class Axe Guitars are gen- erated in store. Town’s End Strings & Things, on the other hand, uses social me- dia as its main source of advertising for their store and services de- spite not having an e-commerce platform. “It’s so nice when people do come in and they say, ‘Oh, we saw your ad on Facebook’, and a few different times we’ve made a few different videos that are probably Tony deMelo of Sight & Sound, Terrace, BC Of course, Canadian MI retailers have been combating this in- creased competition for years, but still, through it all, many small- market merchants have weathered the storm and held their ground. In what could be perceived as either positive or negative, some of our panelists report that even though they’ve adopted e-com- merce solutions for their stores, they haven’t had a significant impact on their respective bottom lines. It seems their customers still favour the physical retail experience, which is likely a testament to the store culture and customer experience they’ve worked so hard to foster in response to that very trend. Still, deMelo sees the ongoing proliferation of e-commerce as the biggest threat currently facing his business and is working hard to keep competitive. “Let’s say they type in the words ‘Gibson Les Paul’ and do a Google search. We’re hoping that we become one of the top sites that pop up, so when they do that, they go, ‘Oh, Sight & Sound in Terrace. Gee, that’s my home community or right close to me’. They click on our site, they see it, they see the price, they do their homework, they go, ‘Oh, they’re pretty well the same as the big boys; let’s just go down the street.’” Of course, today’s digital climate and the technologies surround- ing it haven’t solely been a cause of hardships; they’ve also offered retailers a host of valuable tools to boost business and better cater to customers. Social media is a shining example. “Social media helps as an additional advertising tool. It is also a great way to engage your customers and get them as excited as about 30 seconds long, always with a sense of humor, which we feel is very important, that have interested people,” says Townsend. deMelo and Sight & Sound have seen regular success with their email blasts, maintaining a healthy mailing list and sharing news of incoming products, big sales, and any other relevant information. “We also on our website have inquiries, so we want to make sure when someone asks us a question, that we’re on it and we’re replying fairly quickly,” deMelo adds. “Again, if they can’t get that ideal shop- ping experience here, they’ll just go elsewhere.” In the end, for many retailers, it isn’t all about who drives the most traffic or moves the most boxes; it’s about the passion that this busi- ness inspires, and sharing that with the members of their community, regardless of its size. Offering a quality product, a reasonable and fair price, and exceptional, tailored service is what will bring people back. In many of these smaller markets, the music store isn’t just a hub for the musical community – it’s the hub, where creative types come to connect with and learn from one another. It’s the place where people can talk about bands they’re into, new tricks they’re trying on their instrument, and in many cases, find a welcome respite from everyday life. That’s an important role in any community, let alone a tight-knit small town, and one that each of these retailers admittedly takes very seriously. For those like Beshara, deMelo, Popiez, and Townsend, support- ing local musicians, believing in the arts, and attending events in their community are means to earning loyalty with their customers and improving the quality of life where they live. Megan Beam is a freelance writer and formal editorial assistant with Canadian Music Trade. CANADIAN MUSIC TRADE • 25