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Jalex

Henry blames guitar stores for financial woes...

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I'm posting what I wrote on a guitar sales colleague's FB post about this:

 

"I can’t believe I’m actually agreeing with Henry. He makes excellent points about customer experience. However, it would help if they stopped making products that are hell to sell. That 2015 Les Paul was a Frankenstein of patched together stupid ideas. But it isn’t just brick and mortar stores Henry; you yourself said Gibson is no longer a guitar company, but a consumer audio electronics “lifestyle” company. Perhaps you are overextended? Over diversified? Lost sight of your core business?"

Edited by drathbun

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I don't know the reason, I have never asked but the shop in Melbourne, Australia renowned for selling acoustic guitars has these if you search their stock: 2 vintage Gibsons, zip new Gibson models - the ones listed always say "Incoming Soon" ....hmmm, don't hold your breath, it is a rare event. And take a look at the crossed out prices here! (Of course, I would take the 58 J45, but the guitar fund is about $5990 short....)

 

 

https://www.acousticcentre.com.au/search?type=product&q=gibson

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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There you go.My thoughts exactly. Some of the best stores selling guitars dont sell Gibson.

They find the working relationship and financial demand to great to bear.

Fullers of Texas used to have all its Gibson stock online, until they were banned from doing so by Gibson.

Consequently, unless you walk into Fullers, You dont even Know what is in stock. My favorite Guitras in Fl.

Were pleased to anounce that they were a 5 star dealer only a few years ago.Within months, they were a no star dealer,

Now for sure I dont know why, but the story repeats itself. Having said that, Henry has a very valid point about guitar

stores.When I visit the US, I am contantly amazed by the hight level of customer service, coming from a land

that doesnt have any.However, in Guitar Center recently, the service was mediocre at best.

This is the truth. I bought at least 4 Gibsons from Fuller's when their inventory was visible online. I was very disappointed when I couldn't see what they had any more (although it was better for my bank acct.). The last Gibson I bought a couple of months ago was listed on a well known small dealers web site as "used" even though it was brand new. I found out that that was how the dealer got around Gibson's fakakta rules. They list brand new guitars as used/mint on their site. I don't blame them one bit. Anyway, I'm finished buying Gibsons as I have the ones I want. I don't care what Henry does going forward as long as he stands by the warranties.

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To me it sounds like Henry is refocusing his strategy on how and what dealers he plans on selling to. As well as his customers. A good entrepreneur constantly reassesses both. Where the big box stores as they were was the right move for him then, back when, it sounds like he is reassessing that, but...more likely he is putting out an effort, maybe along with other manufacturers, to get the big box stores to change their ways.

 

I was speaking with a local non-Gibson music store and its owner was telling me that all of the big box stores are now reassessing their prior methods to try to be more lesson focused and more hometown focused. He said the big box stores were basically now going to further compete on the small local music store level such as his store. He said his store was gearing up for that and felt he could could compete if the big box stores do that. Mainly through customer service.

 

That may loosely be what Henry was talking about in terms of big box stores, which I assume he was talking about,improving their service and knowledge base. If Henry has Martin and Taylor and Fender on board to force the big box stores, this could result in big box stores changing their ways and building relationships with customers, something that has been lacking. Even if Henry does the effort alone, without the other manufacturers, he still certainly has a lot of volume leverage with the big box stores from his Epiphone brand. They’d be half empty without Epiphones in them. Plus, of course, the Gibson brand

 

It might work.

 

Just some thoughts.

 

QM aka Jazzman Jeff

Edited by QuestionMark

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Can anyone point me to the actual quote where Henry blames guitar stores for Gibson's financial woes?

It makes for a catchy headline - but where in the article did the journalist actually report that verbatim from his interview?

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Good point. It doesn’t! Or, at least all I see is the writer connecting the two in his article. I don’t actually see Henry referencing it anywhere. Henry is only referencing the industry in the article. Unless someone else can find it.

 

QM aka Jazzman Jeff

Edited by QuestionMark

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.

I took away something different. Yes, Gibson has courted big box retailers. And there's that quote attributed to Henry: "I’ve been arguing with retailers for a long time that you have to be a place where [customers] can sit and take in the store, and be a destination that is friendly. If you walk into most music stores, there's nowhere to sit. Give me a break! Most stores aren't comfortable places." I can see him pointing that at the big box guys. But it's not working.

 

My take away is a different quote attributed to Henry in paraphrase: Gibson has long protected their sales partners by refusing to have an online store, although he predicted that would almost certainly change. . . Seems to me that Gibson/Henry is thinking about opening their website to online retail purchases directly, just like Fender. I'm not sure how that will work for Gibson, dealing with all that goes on, but it seems like online retail is in the future for Gibson.

 

 

And now a side rant - I'm still pissed about Gibson terminating Elderly's retail contract here in my hometown in 2005 over a banjo advertisement. Since then there's been only one Gibson dealer in the area and they carry no more than two (2) or three (3) Gibson acoustics. Elderly still sells a lot of used Gibson's, but nothing new. It's a shame. It's been over a decade.

 

 

.

Elderly is within my "graze" as well, and I share your feeling on the matter. Somehow, I manage to continue to love Gibson instruments, but have grown to despise the company.

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Can anyone point me to the actual quote where Henry blames guitar stores for Gibson's financial woes?

It makes for a catchy headline - but where in the article did the journalist actually report that verbatim from his interview?

 

Here is the original article in Billboard. I wouldn't say he "blames guitar stores" for Gibson's financial troubles but he is certainly citing retail's shortcomings as a contributing factor to the difficulties faced by the industry.

 

https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8215382/gibson-ceo-henry-juszkiewicz-guitar-retail-interview

 

Here's an interesting quote from Mr. J.

 

I like to say, "You know where the good music stores are? Look in a city's pornography district." Sure enough, that's where [they] are. Well, parents with kids don't like to go into those areas to shop.

 

He not only thinks cities have pornography districts, but also believes those areas are where the good music stores are. If one were to craft an argument that the man is out of touch with reality, this quote would be a good place to start.

Edited by Mr. Paul

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Sounds like their are factors on both sides that have not made Gibson an easy buy for the average consumer. I personally hate when you go into the stores and they have zero Gibson acoustics or they have a half dozen and they are not with in reach. I do also understand that Gibson has alienated the smaller shops with unreasaonable stoking requirements. Bottom line is that all the reasons add up to a negative shopping/buying expierience for the average consumer. I hate it no matter who or what is to blame as I still love the Gibson guitars.

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Here is the original article in Billboard. I wouldn't say he "blames guitar stores" for Gibson's financial troubles but he is certainly citing retail's shortcomings as a contributing factor to the difficulties faced by the industry.

 

https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8215382/gibson-ceo-henry-juszkiewicz-guitar-retail-interview

 

Here's an interesting quote from Mr. J.

 

I like to say, "You know where the good music stores are? Look in a city's pornography district." Sure enough, that's where [they] are. Well, parents with kids don't like to go into those areas to shop.

 

He not only thinks cities have pornography districts, but also believes those areas are where the good music stores are. If one were to craft an argument that the man is out of touch with reality, this quote would be a good place to start.

 

 

Truth is most managing directors /ceos / big cheeses are out of touch with who their customers are

How can they not be ?

Be alien to him to be selling what you had and saving pennies to buy a guitar .

 

And folk tend not to actually tell their boss the truth . Just get through the week and tell him/her what they want to hear .

And on and on it goes

 

 

Nothing two months behind the counter of a store earning a retailers wage wouldn’t cure , or at least give him some insight to what customers are looking for

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Elderly is within my "graze" as well, and I share your feeling on the matter. Somehow, I manage to continue to love Gibson instruments, but have grown to despise the company.

 

 

Gibson's split with Elderly was famous. It was widely reported but I guess it need retelling.

 

Gibson was having a bit of trouble with it's sales of bluegrass instruments. Banjos, Mandolins, and Dobro. They would sell a banjo here and a Dobro there and no one would represent the line as the Bluegrass bubble had burst and there was little interest. He decided to make the lines available to a very select, dedicated dealer base and eliminate all the other onesie / twosie dealers. There was almost no demand for the instruments and his decision was a last ditch effort. Henry made a deal with several big online dealers. He would make them exclusive retailers if they would agree to sell and promote only Gibson Bluegrass instruments. The dealers he approached agreed and Henry had his handful of outlets that would stock and promote the line.

 

The dealers all singed the agreements and it looked like the lines might just survive. Well let me rephrase here. All but one dealer abided by the contracts. Elderly violated the agreement in the first month. Henry contacted Stan and pointed out the obvious infraction of the agreement and Stan refused to honor an agreement he sought out, signed, and agreed to. Henry had no choice but to sue Elderly so that the other stores in the alliance wouldn't follow suit. The suit was no contest. Henry sued Elderly for breach of contract.

 

The suit as I stated was no contest as Stan's signature was on the bottom of the contract. He was doing the opposite of the deal and was advertising other brands of instruments contrary to the agreement he had SIGNED. This was something that Henry regretted doing. He made several very public attempts to get Elderly to stop the violations but had no success. Elderly just laughed and made every attempt to ridicule Henry in a very public way. Well of course Elderly had no ground to stand on and very publicly dropped the line.

 

You must remember that Elderly had SIGNED an agreement they had no intention in honoring. When they dropped the line, Henry trying to be the bigger person offered to buy back all of Elderly's Gibson inventory. Les Paul's, J-200's- Everything so as to not cause Elderly any hardship. Stan refused the offer.

 

It was a dark day at Gibson and Elderly knew it and continued to misrepresent the dispute. They still do so to this day. Bottom line here is that Elderly lost a lot of business and even today is nothing but a shadow of it's former self. A lot of folks in the music business feel that when you put your signature on a contract that you should keep your word. Some people don't feel the same.

 

I am not assigning any blame as there is plenty to go around. I doesn't make much difference if you believe your signature is a bond or not it is what happened.

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Gibson's split with Elderly was famous. It was widely reported but I guess it need retelling. ...

 

That's not how the events were reported around the Lansing area, which was - Gibson filed a trademark lawsuit against Elderly for advertising a banjo on its web site as a Gibson copy (which is a matter of record). After some time, advertising changes, and wrangling, the suit was reportedly settled and Gibson ended it's retail contract with Elderly. It's all very ironic since Gibson doesn't make banjo's anymore.

 

As far as Elderly's business - having been a customer there since the 70s, when Stan was working out of a basement in East Lansing, I can see that since 2005 Elderly's business has been stable, despite the problems the music industry has encountered since 2009 - and, they haven't been raided by the feds. [thumbup]

. Elderly is very well known in this country and others, and is highly regarded. And it's exactly the kind of store HJ was talking about - you can walk in, get comfortable, sit, play anything in the shop and noodle away hours. They are doing just fine without new Gibsons to sell, relying, as Buc mentioned about his store, on used/vintage Gibsons to satisfy customers with a Gibson appetite. Again, it's a shame there hasn't been any reconciliation.

 

 

.

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I'm quite cautious about who I buy from. Elderly is one of a handful of stores I trust to provide accurate information.

 

Yes, I recall their thick catalogs, going back to the '70s. But it took me until 2015 to purchase an instrument from them - a used '70s Guild that turned out to be exactly as described. They were very good to work with over the phone, and shipping was seamless. They are exactly what you'd hope for in an instrument dealer, and what Henry professes to appreciate as a well run model.

 

As for the various versions of past events, I wasn't there, so I don't know. But what always sticks out in my mind is Ren's version of his encounter with HJ when Flatiron wanted to discuss (I believe at NAMM in the '80s) the possibility of building Gibson's mandolins. They had a prototype in hand, and when approached, Henry essentially said, "How about if I just sue you & put you out of business?" For the exact wording, the discussion with Ren is out there in YouTube land.

 

Wonder how those discussions with Stan really went down?

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That's not how the events were reported around the Lansing area, which was - Gibson filed a trademark lawsuit against Elderly for advertising a banjo on its web site as a Gibson copy (which is a matter of record). After some time, advertising changes, and wrangling, the suit was reportedly settled and Gibson ended it's retail contract with Elderly. It's all very ironic since Gibson doesn't make banjo's anymore.

 

As far as Elderly's business - having been a customer there since the 70s, when Stan was working out of a basement in East Lansing, I can see that since 2005 Elderly's business has been stable, despite the problems the music industry has encountered since 2009 - and, they haven't been raided by the feds. [thumbup]

. Elderly is very well known in this country and others, and is highly regarded. And it's exactly the kind of store HJ was talking about - you can walk in, get comfortable, sit, play anything in the shop and noodle away hours. They are doing just fine without new Gibsons to sell, relying, as Buc mentioned about his store, on used/vintage Gibsons to satisfy customers with a Gibson appetite. Again, it's a shame there hasn't been any reconciliation.

 

 

.

I recall Stan's original location very, very well indeed. At the time, it was a shrewd place to be considering its proximity to the State campus. Elderly remains a most outstanding place and Stan remains shrewd and, some might say, as stubborn as ever. 😉

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It's not my fault my company has financial problems. Let me see, who can I point a finger at?

 

Oh, okay, how about all those successful music dealers I pushed away with unrealistic stocking demands seventeen years ago, and continuing to this day?

 

I'm not a business owner, just a lifelong guitar player who has had a relationship with one local shop for 35 years. The owner of the shop (who I obviously know now quite well and have a great relationship with) dropped Gibson when the onorous inventory demands were placed on him. He's a local shop with everything Henry stated in that article that shop owners should provide. Clean, comfortable, inviting, local town friendly, no pressure, extremely knowledgeable staff and competitive pricing. I remember the day I went into the shop and asked why the Gibson stock was so low, thats when he told me about the new terms Gibson wanted him to sign. Sad.

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Heard that Gibson laid off 15 people at their Elm Hill Pike plant in Memphis including management.This is getting interesting.

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You can't have a bunch of halfazzed dealers.

 

You wanna play, ya gotta pay....

 

There is no question that those Gibson dealers that remain have shown a strong commitment to the brand. Most of these dealers are not allowed to advertise their stock. I wonder how they feel about Gibson advertising guitars for sale. Some dealers are allowed to advertise their stock, prices included. I wonder how these dealers feel about Gibson advertising guitars with prices that are the same as what they are advertising. In my business it always worked out that relationships with business partners that acted like adversaries were the ones that didn't last. It seems like it continues to become more and more difficult to be a dealer for Gibson acoustics.

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You can't have a bunch of halfazzed dealers.

 

You wanna play, ya gotta pay....

 

How's that workin out for Gibson? They haven't sold an acoustic in this county in about 4 years now. Prior to our loss of Music Connection/Philadelphia Music Co, Gibson moved a good dozen or so, usually 15ish, acoustics a year in this county. That all started in the early 2000's when Irv's Music gave up the Gibson Ghost.

 

But everything is ok. The cult of Henry will overcome, doesn't matter how many guitar players around here are NOT using Gibson acoustics and it is nobody's fault but GIBSON they aren't.

 

Just because it isn't happening where you live doesn't mean it isn't happening, or, that it won't get to that point where you live if they aren't careful.

 

rct

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You can't have a bunch of halfazzed dealers.

You wanna play, ya gotta pay....

Again, in my local area it was a variety of dealers that felt forced to abandon Gibson. From a small and devoted mom & pop, to a regional multi-storefront operation that had been selling Gibsons for thirty years. A person used to be able to walk into these stores and play a true variety of Gibson models. Imagine that!

 

There's nothing halfazzed about these dealers, and they are still here, still selling lots of guitars that don't say Gibson or Epiphone. The mom & pop started in a tiny storefront when I first came upon them, stocking a very full line of Gibsons. They later expanded into a larger store, then opened a second store, and recently moved the primary store to a larger storefront. The even larger business operation still has it's multiple storefronts. They both broke away from Henry's stocking demands in the first wave, and just imagine how many potential sales Gibson has lost in the ensuing years that went to Martin, Taylor, Fender, and others (who equally all retain the same big-box/online presence as Gibson).

 

I think the overall point here is that after alienating so many dealers, very few want or need to play Henry's numbers game anymore. HJ has always sought to be in the driver's seat & dictate terms to others. That's his style & so be it, but it doesn't work very well when business owners realize they can do just fine without the high-dollar product he's trying to shove at them in mega-quantities. Sure, you can point to Epiphone in the lower price ranges, but naturally the competition is fierce there, and good quality products abound. So truly, the dealers don't have to rely on what Gibson is selling at either end of the spectrum.

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I am not one that likes to hear anyone cast blame, but I actually agree with Henry. He should have went direct to consumer 10-15 years ago when Gibson had a resurgence in demand (that's on him). You can't put your product on retail shelves anymore and expect a strong return.

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Man, I am sorry. If Gibsons and Martins were only available BigBox and Factory Direct, who would set up my guitars? Who would fix it when I screw up a K&K install? Who would fix it when I pooched my nut and saddle with my nice stewmac files? Where would I try out new guitars, pedals, amps etc?

 

Dealers (good ones anyway - and that includes none of the big box) are vital to this acoustic business. These are not commodity items. They require service. It is, if not a high touch sale, then at least NOT a low touch sale. Guitar Center near me? Useless. Gross. Sam Ash is a hair better. Guitars mistreated.

 

Fck that. Give me a Russo's or Rudy's or Gryphon, or Umanov. Or away from my corner (and I havent been to Nashville... a Gruhn, Artisan etc...)

 

A few years ago I bought my daughter a nice trumpet. It cost a few g's, and I got it from this hole in the wall place in Edison NJ, which attracts stars from around the globe. I could not believe the nuance between brands, models, and even different specimens of the same model. With our beloved Gibbys we are talking about organic wood..

 

Fcking Amazon has brainwashed us. (PS I do get it if there are no good dealers near you - for which I pity you!) But even then... heck. Take a road trip. Make it an adventure and a story.

Edited by ThemisSal

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1520012844[/url]' post='1920924']

How's that workin out for Gibson? They haven't sold an acoustic in this county in about 4 years now. Prior to our loss of Music Connection/Philadelphia Music Co, Gibson moved a good dozen or so, usually 15ish, acoustics a year in this county. That all started in the early 2000's when Irv's Music gave up the Gibson Ghost.

 

But everything is ok. The cult of Henry will overcome, doesn't matter how many guitar players around here are NOT using Gibson acoustics and it is nobody's fault but GIBSON they aren't.

 

Just because it isn't happening where you live doesn't mean it isn't happening, or, that it won't get to that point where you live if they aren't careful.

 

rct

Just because people aren't buying Gibson acoustics in your county's brick &mortar store, doesn't mean folks aren't buying them online.

Edited by fortyearspickn

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Just because people aren't buying Gibson acoustics in your county's brick &mortar store, doesn't mean folks aren't buying them online.

 

I thought all the smart acoustic players never bought without trying first.

 

rct

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