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Mr. Paul

Changes at the "new" Gibson

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One thing that never made sense was the adversarial relationship Gibson had with their acoustic dealers. What kind of retailer wants to be told they can't list their stock on line? Whoever was responsible for the policy that let/forced Fullers to drop their Gibson dealership was probably let go immediately, and rightfully so.

 

Chicago Music Exchange now lists their stock with prices. I know of at least one new dealer that has signed up since the change. Gibson no longer lists their acoustics for sale on their web site ... for a while they did, and at the same prices dealers were allowed to advertise. What a FU to dealers that was.

 

Encouraging signs.

Edited by Mr. Paul

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It's really important to win back the dealers. All the five star dealers within 500 miles of me no longer sell Gibsons. And none of them have a good thing to say about the company, or their guitars. That needs to be turned around if they want to survive.

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It's really important to win back the dealers. All the five star dealers within 500 miles of me no longer sell Gibsons. And none of them have a good thing to say about the company, or their guitars. That needs to be turned around if they want to survive.

 

 

Nearest to me is 100 miles. The replaced Gibson with Taylors!

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At least to me, a lot of what I'm hearing and seeing from Gibson makes perfect sense. For example a ”59 Standard looking” Les Paul Standard is great. Unbelievable it has not happened until now. Less products and more core also makes sense.

 

It's my favorite guitar brand and I sincerely wish them the best of luck!

 

Lars

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The mom & pop store where I bought a number of Gibsons had the rug cut out from under them in Henry's first wave of dealer dumping during his initial big-box move in 2001.

 

It made absolutely no sense to me, and was my major quibble with HJ's era. Instead of having a dealer who would go to NAMM annually & come back excited as heck about Gibson - and continually say positive things about the product & company - you had someone who was now going to be talking about other brands with the same glow that used to be reserved for Gibson.

 

I hadn't been in that mom & pop for a number of years, but happened to stop in there a couple of months ago since it was close to a doctor appointment in the big city. On the electric side were a whole lot of Fenders, and on the acoustic side it was raining Taylors. Multiply that by all the large & small stores nationwide that no longer carry Gibson to consider how much was lost.

 

Moving forward, let the rebuilding of Gibson's dealer network begin with integrity & partnership.

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The mom & pop store where I bought a number of Gibsons had the rug cut out from under them in Henry's first wave of dealer dumping during his initial big-box move in 2001.

 

It made absolutely no sense to me, and was my major quibble with HJ's era. Instead of having a dealer who would go to NAMM annually & come back excited as heck about Gibson - and continually say positive things about the product & company - you had someone who was now going to be talking about other brands with the same glow that used to be reserved for Gibson.

 

I hadn't been in that mom & pop for a number of years, but happened to stop in there a couple of months ago since it was close to a doctor appointment in the big city. On the electric side were a whole lot of Fenders, and on the acoustic side it was raining Taylors. Multiply that by all the large & small stores nationwide that no longer carry Gibson to consider how much was lost.

 

Moving forward, let the rebuilding of Gibson's dealer network begin with integrity & partnership.

Back in Henry's day I'll bet Taylor,Martin and Fender sent Christmas cards to him in thanks for all the business he channeled their way.I think they're a bit more apprehensive these days.

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Gee not to sound hopelessly optimistic, but it does sound like ths "JC" guy is thinking it's time for Gibson to pull their heads out of their collective arses..

Way over due. Wish them much continued success. The Phoenix rises from it's ashes, so there is that..

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One thing that never made sense was the adversarial relationship Gibson had with their acoustic dealers. What kind of retailer wants to be told they can't list their stock on line? Whoever was responsible for the policy that let/forced Fullers to drop their Gibson dealership was probably let go immediately, and rightfully so.

 

Chicago Music Exchange now lists their stock with prices. I know of at least one new dealer that has signed up since the change. Gibson no longer lists their acoustics for sale on their web site ... for a while they did, and at the same prices dealers were allowed to advertise. What a FU to dealers that was.

 

Encouraging signs.

 

This is complicated and not easy to explain in a couple of paragraphs but I will try.

 

Back in the 50's the mom and pops would buy a few guitars from each manufacturer and then advertise they were authorized dealers for all the major brands. They had as many dealerships as possible to discourage another store from moving to their town. They had one J-45 and a couple of Martins and a Telecaster in their tiny store and when you saw their ad in the yellow pages and asked for a Gibson they would trot out a J-45 they had for years and said the could order whatever you wanted.

 

Henty sent his sales reps across the country and found this system in place and though it worked for the dealers it didn't work for the manufactures. He told all of his authorized dealers they had to represent the line in their stores or lose the dealership. The small guys were being pressured by Martin and Fender to do the same so the had to make a decision. Martin had great acoustics and no electrics. Fender had cheap electrics and no acoustics. Gibson had it all.

 

Most dealers chose Martin as they didn't have to buy electrics and most chose Fender as they didn't have to buy a full line of acoustics. They instead told people they didn't like the price or the quality of Gibson and they dropped them.They blamed it all on Gibson. It's much more complicated that this but there is not time or space to go into detail.

 

The people that chose Gibson and represented the whole line were rewarded with a protected territory that no one else could sell Gibson in. It's just like the automobile dealership model.

 

Then Elderly sent out a catalogue. This crossed all territories and the war was on. They had the entire mid-west to sell in and they didn't need to have a store with overhead or license fees and all the overhead. This was a huge problem for the dealers that invested in full line inventories as they had all of the overhead of a store and a competitor that was price cutting the heck out of them. Henry went to war to protect his authorized dealers and protected their territories. This was fine until Musicians Friend came out with their monster full line color catalog that was shipped all over the country and Canada. They sold strings,picks,straps, amps Oh hell they sold it all. At huge discounts.

 

The business as usual had changed. In order to compete big stores started selling their stock on line with huge discounts to compete with the catalogs and that made it possible for a customer to buy a guitar at a huge discount and not go thru their local dealer. Not all towns had music stores and the new mass marketing was driving dealers out of business and Henry had to modify his marketing plan. He came up with the MAP pricing strategy trying to protect the mom and pops from the predatory discounting that was ruining the dealer network. He knew there were huge parts of the country that had no stores at all and that people were relying on the catalogs and large dealers to supply their equipment needs. What to do? Let a few on line dealers advertise across protected lines to service customers that had no store to visit. They had prices they could advertise and all should be well???

 

Restrict the on line dealers from ruining the brand equity by offering rock bottom prices which were ruining dealers that were invested with inventory. Henty tried to control the pricing so that a mon & pop could make a profit in their territory.

 

It's against the law to price fix so he couldn't control to much but he could control advertising of his product. In a failed attempt to save the small dealers from extinction he introduced advertising restrictions.

 

You will find a million reasons to not understand the logic in this but remember this. You are consumers and you are trying to get the best guitar at the cheapest price and you don't care if someone goes broke in the process. Just get me a J-45 at the lowest price. Henry went broke trying to solve the problem. His loyalty to the small dealer cost him his company. Did the small dealer appreciate this. No.....

 

What will happen? There will be no local dealers in a few years. They will be replaced just like all of the other Main street business in the world. There is a reason why 30% of the music stores closed their doors last year. Henry was swimming upstream and he paid the ultimate price for it. There will be several huge warehouses full of guitars and an 800 number and that will be your retail experience.

 

Henry loved the idea of sitting around the back room and playing several guitars before you made a decision. This was a place to learn and share ideas. Just another dinosaur. Let the discussion begin.

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f n internet has not allways been good to us...excellent post and points- j

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The successful small local dealers in my region who used to sell Gibsons are still there, and they have one advantage that online retailers are not able to match: They give lessons.

 

Those students are going to be advised by their instructors. It's pretty difficult to get excited about Gibsons in a store full of Martins, Taylors, and Fenders. But again, it didn't used to be that way where I shopped. This particular small store had Gibson acoustics prominently showcased on a four-sided display in the middle of their acoustic room, and the electric row of Gibsons was quite extensive. When an instructor/salesman wanted to show his/her students the good stuff, they would invariably turn to the Gibsons. Another local business with four stores and a large overall inventory always had Gibsons well displayed for a first-hand assessment (if you asked!).

 

When Henry pulled the plug on local dealers with stocking demands that were out of reach for most, Martin, Taylor, and Fender all continued to sell in these same shops throughout the country, even as they and Gibson began flooding Guitar Centers with their product. Eighteen years later, guess what? Those same local stores are still carrying Martins, Taylors, and Fenders. They still promote them with their students, and they continue to create a buzz for those products among local players.

 

Imho, Henry went barking up the wrong tree, and created a raft of ill-will in the process. It will be very interesting to see to what extent Gibson's new management works to restore these connections.

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Back when I started to hang out at guitar stores pretty much every one of them had a couple of new Gibsons hanging on the wall. Based on what I have been told by owners of Mom & Pop stores though Gibson began requiring an annual buy-in that was unrealistic for small places.

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There is a small music store in my hometown. They give lessons and sell inexpensive beginner guitars. They dropped their stocking of Taylors a couple of years ago. They told me they couldn’t match Musicians Friends prices and all that kept happening was they’d sell a student a Taylor and then a week later the student would return it because they bought the same one cheaper online, bringing ill will to their store who came across as trying to rip off their student. Now they help their students find a good guitar online after they outgrow their beginner guitar. They are still in business.

 

I think one has to separate out the small local store from the stores that are not big box stores, but somewhere in the middle. Like Fuller’s and Dave’s and Elderly. Getting the small stores back just isn’t going to happen. The world has changed. Getting Fullers, Dave’s, Elderly types back, who are neither big box, but not Mom & Pop sized stores may be possible, but one must remember that the big box stores all have price match policies and the wherewithal to match or beat their prices if they advertise online. Plus, if one watches Shark Tank, all of the profits are in online sales not store sales with overhead.

 

Let’s look at Levi, Strauss & Company and keep them in mind now when we analyze Gibson. Levi Strauss was tanking with their limited sale distribution through giants like the Gap. They didn’t start putting their product into Mom & Pop hometown stores. Instead they started comparatively pricing to Lee, Wrangler, and/or designer brands and expanding their distribution to big box retailers like Target, Kohl’s (maybe WalMart-not sure, haven’t been in a WalMart in awhile to look at men’s clothes.). And, Levi Strauss made their product available at stores where they can be ordered online.

 

Note: this past quarter, my wife bought her Amanda Brand women’s jeans online for the first time. She knows her size, Macy’s by us quit carrying petite sizes, so she just went online to buy them. This is happening all the time now. (I personally got fed up with running around to stores who it turned out didn’t have the Michael Jordan gym shoes I like. Found them online and had them in five days. These are athings people used to think they needed to try on first.)

 

I suspect the new Gibson will continue Henry’s marketing plan. Except maybe making choosing a J-45 or Les Paul Standard easier by making only a limited version of each model, not a zillion variations. If there is less variety of each model it is easier to know what one is getting when buying online. As JC is making less variations, that’s a signal to me that their going to beef up their online approach. Hopefully, they’ll get Fullers, Dave’s, Elderly types back in the fold through some relationship building...but, it’s pretty clear that online is the future, with some brick and mortar in the picture for pickup, showroom effect, etc etc. JC mentioned in the NAMM video targeting getting artists or something (which equates to high profile musicians) to play Gibsons. Artist endorsements or artists playing Gibsons sells guitars. Online or otherwise.

 

I suspect JC will follow Levi Strauss’ plan with maybe a few tweaks. Plus, need to keep in mind, Gibson guitars were not the problem with Henry’s company. Buying too many non guitar brands and getting into debt from it was. So I think JC will strengthen and do more of what Gibson guitars did, plus do something’s that the debt burden (now gone) didn’t allow.

 

Just my thoughts.

 

QM aka “Jazzman” Jeff

Edited by QuestionMark

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The successful small local dealers in my region who used to sell Gibsons are still there, and they have one advantage that online retailers are not able to match: They give lessons.

 

Those students are going to be advised by their instructors. It's pretty difficult to get excited about Gibsons in a store full of Martins, Taylors, and Fenders. But again, it didn't used to be that way where I shopped. This particular small store had Gibson acoustics prominently showcased on a four-sided display in the middle of their acoustic room, and the electric row of Gibsons was quite extensive. When an instructor/salesman wanted to show his/her students the good stuff, they would invariably turn to the Gibsons. Another local business with four stores and a large overall inventory always had Gibsons well displayed for a first-hand assessment (if you asked!).

 

When Henry pulled the plug on local dealers with stocking demands that were out of reach for most, Martin, Taylor, and Fender all continued to sell in these same shops throughout the country, even as they and Gibson began flooding Guitar Centers with their product. Eighteen years later, guess what? Those same local stores are still carrying Martins, Taylors, and Fenders. They still promote them with their students, and they continue to create a buzz for those products among local players.

 

Imho, Henry went barking up the wrong tree, and created a raft of ill-will in the process. It will be very interesting to see to what extent Gibson's new management works to restore these connections.

Yep. Yes. Absolutely. Damn straight. 👍👍

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Back when I started to hang out at guitar stores pretty much every one of them had a couple of new Gibsons hanging on the wall. Based on what I have been told by owners of Mom & Pop stores though Gibson began requiring an annual buy-in that was unrealistic for small places.

Unrealistic is a kind and gentle way of putting it.

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There is a small music store in my hometown. They give lessons and sell inexpensive beginner guitars. They dropped their stocking of Taylors a couple of years ago. They told me they couldn’t match Musicians Friends prices and all that kept happening was they’d sell a student a Taylor and then a week later the student would return it because they bought the same one cheaper online, bringing ill will to their store who came across as trying to rip off their student. Now they help their students find a good guitar online after they outgrow their beginner guitar. They are still in business.

 

I think one has to separate out the small local store from the stores that are not big box stores, but somewhere in the middle. Like Fuller’s and Dave’s and Elderly. Getting the small stores back just isn’t going to happen. The world has changed. Getting Fullers, Dave’s, Elderly types back, who are neither big box, but not Mom & Pop sized stores may be possible, but one must remember that the big box stores all have price match policies and the wherewithal to match or beat their prices if they advertise online. Plus, if one watches Shark Tank, all of the profits are in online sales not store sales with overhead.

 

Let’s look at Levi, Strauss & Company and keep them in mind now when we analyze Gibson. Levi Strauss was tanking with their limited sale distribution through giants like the Gap. They didn’t start putting their product into Mom & Pop hometown stores. Instead they started comparatively pricing to Lee, Wrangler, and/or designer brands and expanding their distribution to big box retailers like Target, Kohl’s (maybe WalMart-not sure, haven’t been in a WalMart in awhile to look at men’s clothes.). And, Levi Strauss made their product available at stores where they can be ordered online.

 

Note: this past quarter, my wife bought her Amanda Brand women’s jeans online for the first time. She knows her size, Macy’s by us quit carrying petite sizes, so she just went online to buy them. This is happening all the time now. (I personally got fed up with running around to stores who it turned out didn’t have the Michael Jordan gym shoes I like. Found them online and had them in five days. These are athings people used to think they needed to try on first.)

 

I suspect the new Gibson will continue Henry’s marketing plan. Except maybe making choosing a J-45 or Les Paul Standard easier by making only a limited version of each model, not a zillion variations. If there is less variety of each model it is easier to know what one is getting when buying online. As JC is making less variations, that’s a signal to me that their going to beef up their online approach. Hopefully, they’ll get Fullers, Dave’s, Elderly types back in the fold through some relationship building...but, it’s pretty clear that online is the future, with some brick and mortar in the picture for pickup, showroom effect, etc etc. JC mentioned in the NAMM video targeting getting artists or something (which equates to high profile musicians) to play Gibsons. Artist endorsements or artists playing Gibsons sells guitars. Online or otherwise.

 

I suspect JC will follow Levi Strauss’ plan with maybe a few tweaks. Plus, need to keep in mind, Gibson guitars were not the problem with Henry’s company. Buying too many non guitar brands and getting into debt from it was. So I think JC will strengthen and do more of what Gibson guitars did, plus do something’s that the debt burden (now gone) didn’t allow.

 

Just my thoughts.

 

QM aka “Jazzman” Jeff

Some very good points to consider. I'd feel better, though, if Levis jeans hadn't deteriorated in quality.

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I’d feel better if Levi jeans fit me better like they did when I was 20. 😄 But, I guess that’s my aging and redistribution of weight, not Levi Strauss’ fault.

 

QM aka “ Jazzman” Jeff

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I would feel better if the Levi jeans I bought now held up like the ones I bought in high school. The fabric is thinner and wear out in a year or so until finally your *** cheeks are hanging out.

As Joe Bonamassa said the mom and pop is dead. The 3 little guitar shops in my town all closed down and the only remaining store is the next town, run by my childhood friend, and it survives renting band instruments to students.

Sad story I don't even by my strings from him as Ernie Ball are over 6 bucks. The Guitar Safari is over my friends. You buy vintage on Reverb and you pay full boat. Ebay is a crap shoot and Craigslist sketchy at best.

I miss the pawn shop days where I would go to San Diego and get a *****in Tiesco for $25 bucks and if you had the scratch a blond tele or beat up Gibson for $175. I guess I am showing my age. )%

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I think one has to separate out the small local store from the stores that are not big box stores, but somewhere in the middle. Like Fuller’s and Dave’s and Elderly. Getting the small stores back just isn’t going to happen. The world has changed. Getting Fullers, Dave’s, Elderly types back, who are neither big box, but not Mom & Pop sized stores may be possible, but one must remember that the big box stores all have price match policies and the wherewithal to match or beat their prices if they advertise online.

Indeed, this is a good point re the mid-size dealers, but there can be room for some smaller dealers such as the one I mentioned in my earlier posts. This particular one lies in the suburbs of a major metro area, and in particular, in an area in close proximity to a high tech industry corridor. A lot of folks nearby have good paying jobs, and they have the money to buy high end products. They also have the money to send their kids into the local store for lessons. To not lose out to the online retailers on guitar sales, they simply offer to price match.

 

And btw, during the period when this shop carried acoustic & electric Gibsons, they also carried acoustic & electric Epiphones (as the perfect gateway drug). But when they couldn't meet Henry's Gibson stocking quotas, they were also cut off from access to Epiphone.

 

At any rate, I believe there are a significant number of small dealers in major metro areas who could successfully carry Gibsons and Epiphones. Coupling a select group of smaller stores with winning back the major mid-sized stores such as Fuller's (which for god-sake clearly lived & breathed Gibsons), would be a great place to start.

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