Canadian Music Trade - June/July 2017 - Page 9

FROM THE FLOOR... Still Feels Like a Dream Q&A with Murat Baslamisli of Drummer’s Hangout in Aurora, ON I n the fall of 2015, Murat Baslamisli penned a From the Floor article called “Living the Dream” from the perspective of a brand new MI storeowner. His shop, Drummer’s Hangout in Aurora, ON, has now been in business for two years, and in that time has grown substantially in terms of its inventory and reputation. Let’s check in to see how things are progressing. CMT: Something that stood out from your first article were your ideas for creating a unique store culture – wel- coming people just coming to hang out, offering them a beverage, having a TV with drum videos playing around the clock, etc. How do you think you’ve done in realizing that customer experience in a relatively short time? MB: That aspect of the shop got established fairly quickly and is working out great! Folks come here, hang out, have a drink, and we argue about why Vinnie Colaiuta is better than everyone else and watch videos to prove our point and have a good time. They do buy some stuff, too, and I am OK with that [laughs]. I have my regulars now that go straight to the coffee machine. I love it. First time visitors, and I still get a lot of those because, let’s face it, I am not even two years old yet, they get confused a bit when I offer them a drink – “Do I pay for it?” or “Why is this dude offering me a tea?” But I explain to them how things are and then they are good. CMT: I’m sure your wish list of things you’d like to do with the store is endless, but speaking realistically, what are your goals for the rest of this year as far as getting closer to your vision for Drum- mer’s Hangout? MB: It seems to me that this whole thing will always be a work in progress, but I am also learning to be patient, which has never been a strength of mine. As far as goals, I am still trying to get the word out that I am here, so that is one thing. Securing a couple more lines that I have been wanting since day one is another. I recently had a great drum clinic with the legendary Kenny Aronoff, and I would love to have one more clinic before the year is over. I am aiming for at least two or three clinics a year and those are great oppor- tunities to bring new people into the shop. CMT: Ongoing learning is critical to any retailer’s success. What or who are some of the sources you’ve consulted thus far to continue bolstering your knowledge and sharpening your business acumen? MURAT BASLAMISLI (LEFT) & HIS WIFE SANDY (RIGHT) WITH DRUM ICON KENNY ARONOFF (CENTRE) AT DRUMMER’S HANGOUT MB: I have been in the business for a long time, but as a business owner, I am still a rookie. I ask anyone and everyone who has been doing this way longer than me about their experiences all the time, even when they don’t want to listen [laughs] – and not even just the music industry. I talk to my cus- tomers about their businesses, listen to their ideas and advice. The world has changed considerably since the days I studied business in university, so I will listen to anyone and everyone, but I will filter it down and come up with my own way. The beauty of owning your own business… CMT: What would you say has been the biggest ongoing challenge you’ve faced since you opened? MB: As the word is getting out, we are constantly growing, but the thing is, it is still a challenge to get the word out. I have only so much funds for advertising, so certain media is not doable yet. Social media is great but it is very easy to get lost in the shuffle there. I would say competing with the online stuff and getting folks in the shop is still the biggest challenge. Once people come to the shop, they come again, so my goal is to get people in the shop for the first time. The rest will take care of itself. CMT: Looking ahead to the next few years, are you optimistic about what’s to come? What are some of the trends you feel will emerge or continue to develop that will affect your operations and those of your fellow retailers? MB: I think doing one thing and doing it right will be the name of the game as far as brick and mortar is concerned, instead of trying to be everything to everyone. Bringing more unique products that the big boys in the industry do not offer is something that will continue to work for the little guys like myself. I am generally an optimistic guy, but one thing really has to happen for the wellbe- ing of the MI landscape: we have to try our hardest to make being in a band cool again for the kids. I know, easier said than done, but it is on us and on the parents. I talk to all my students and ask them if they are playing with friends and such. Most of the time, the answer is, “I don’t know anyone in my class that plays anything.” That is sad. I am a drum shop and I only have drum lessons. I know music schools that offer band camps and such to kids, and that is awesome, believe me, but also sad because this used to happen organically. You would play drums in your garage, a kid in the neighborhood would hear and bring his guitar, and some other kid would volunteer to sing, and that was that! I know there are lots of other things these days for the kids to spend their time with, and in the instant gratification society that we have become, learning a musical instrument may not be a priority, but we have to try and make it so. Once these kids get the taste of performing in front of their peers, that experience will never leave them. If kids play music, we will be alright as an industry. Less fidgeting, more shredding! CANADIAN MUSIC TRADE 9