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#1989951 - 11/23/12 01:10 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Furtwangler]
Peakly Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/10
Posts: 213
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
You would think not? Well, think again.

Oops! I didn't express myself very clearly. I'm not disputing your numbers at all - that's why I said ouch.


You said:
Quote:
This level of volume does not support the number of dealers that existed previously.

And that's why I said "I would think not." I agree with you. There is no way the same number of dealers could survive such a drastic drop in sales.

Mychal

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#1989955 - 11/23/12 01:17 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Norbert Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13961
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
tone:

The markets are very different in different regions and while some of what you say may be true for some, it ain't for many others.

Here on the Canadian Westcoast, one beautiful old piano after the other hits the dump, nobody wants them and nobody can sell them. Just today we turned down a free Heintzman, Canada's most coveted brand ever.

When 90% of the customer base is oriental, an already 5 years old piano is considered "old" becoming often another addition to dozens and dozens of similar pianos listed on Craigslist.

The way I see the future at least for us, is trying not to serve the entire market "at all cost" but concentrate on those pianos which hopefully still make a difference.

Luckily those exist and buyers are increasingly becoming aware what they might be of where to find them.

It's neither "all good" nor "all bad" out there.

A challenge - yes - but opportunity also.

For both buyers - and sellers.

Norbert thumb


Edited by Norbert (11/23/12 01:25 AM)
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#1989993 - 11/23/12 07:01 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
tonedefreegan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 45
that might be the difference. the customer base here is probably less than 50% are of Asian extraction. actually, now that I think about it, what's with that?

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#1990011 - 11/23/12 09:05 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: tonedefreegan]
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
Its to do with tiger parents and racism.

Asian parents like mine FORCE their children to learn an instrument. So they are not wasting their time from ther point of view.

So while other children were outside playing games and developing social skills. Asian children were inside being forced to become prodigies. Practice until their fingers bleed! I kid you not. My sister was such a prodigy. Level 8 before she was a teen. Sometimes it works out, like you see on youtube. Often it does not.

She abandoned it though as she had no interest in it.

Racism is because Asian parents only like violins (and similar instruments) and pianos. No other instrument will do.

You go to a music shop in Asia and it will be mostly be violins and pianos. Very little space for brass or guitars. Other instruments are considered low class. Thus are ignored by lots of asian parents.

Just look at youtube. You'll find a LOT of masked guitar/bass players who are masked to keep their identities secret from their parents!

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#1990098 - 11/23/12 04:05 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
j&j Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/09
Posts: 438
Loc: Southwest
I guess my mom was an Italian tiger mom. laugh

We're down to only 3 piano shops in Albuquerque. Several have gone out of business in the last 5 to 6 years, including the Steinway dealer. Furtwrangler is probably right, that 3 is the number that Albuquerque can support, but it does limit a buyer's selection dramatically.

I also think that the acoustic piano market has changed dramatically for reasons beside the downturn in the economy. Young keyboard players may love, use, and buy an acoustic, but they love digitals, stage pianos, synthesizers, midi controllers, and DAWs. Digital cannot replace the sound or feel of a gorgeous acoustic, but it's dramatically improved over the last 10 years.

People are downsizing their dwellings to be closer to the city, work, theater, shops, and restaurants so they have less room for a large acoustic grand. Also, when people entertain, they typically don't spend time playing or listening to the piano. Fortunately, my friends are patient and indulge my delusions. I can't remember the last time I went to someone's house and they had us listen to their child prodigy mangle Fur Elise or any other piano piece. Instead I find myself listening politely to the blow-by-blow details of their wunderkind's soccer/softball/volleyball/football games. (I'd trade that in a heartbeat for a mangled piece from Chopin or Beethoven). With the economic, living, and cultural changes, I really hope that piano shops can find their loyal customers and stay open.
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#1990147 - 11/23/12 08:48 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: j&j]
Macy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 562
Maybe there is more to it than just a bad economy. My perspective as a buyer is a little different.

I went piano shopping recently, with a substantial checkbook in hand ready to pay cash for a new acoustic piano, and found the experience miserable. From poor showroom acoustical properties where every piano sounded bad, to a "prestige shop" where the most expensive new pianos were in poor condition, to salesman that spent their time telling wild stories to tear down competitive brands, to the car-dealer selling process everywhere, the experience was awful. I'm sure there are old-school buyers around that think it's just part of the charm and fun of buying a piano, but for someone like me it was a train-wreck that I walked away from. Simply not worth the trouble. Maybe it's just a bad economy, but maybe buyers expectations are also changing.
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#1990151 - 11/23/12 08:59 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Plowboy Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2172
Loc: Huntington Beach, CA
Word.
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#1990157 - 11/23/12 09:22 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Macy]
KillerCharlie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/21/09
Posts: 141
Originally Posted By: Macy

I went piano shopping recently, with a substantial checkbook in hand ready to pay cash for a new acoustic piano, and found the experience miserable. From poor showroom acoustical properties where every piano sounded bad, to a "prestige shop" where the most expensive new pianos were in poor condition, to salesman that spent their time telling wild stories to tear down competitive brands, to the car-dealer selling process everywhere, the experience was awful. I'm sure there are old-school buyers around that think it's just part of the charm and fun of buying a piano, but for someone like me it was a train-wreck that I walked away from. Simply not worth the trouble. Maybe it's just a bad economy, but maybe buyers expectations are also changing.



I'm having the exact same experience. One dealer I want to try their pianos but they aren't prepped or tuned at all, it's really pathetic. Another dealer has their noses so high in the air that some customers just walk out of the door. I felt really uncomfortable there. Not surprisingly they've had to close one of their two shops. A third store has workers that are just clueless.

The Yamaha (plus other models) store is doing business like crazy. It helps that there are a lot of Yamaha-loving Asians in town. However it's more than that - they're nice and helpful. One of their two workers is a tech that always has every piano sounding and feeling great.

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#1990173 - 11/23/12 10:36 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1474
Loc: Danville, California
Well, this unfortunately is all part of the weeding out process, isn't it?

Some of those dealers apparently need to disappear.

And if they continue in the current manner of dealing with customers, they will.

I guess in the "good old days" dealers such as you have described (and I know who some of them are - personally) could stay in business because business was good enough to allow this kind of stuff.

Times have changed.

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#1990176 - 11/23/12 10:54 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3292
The recession surely hasn't helped matters, but the piano industry is probably hurting more from other reasons:

1. The modern piano has been around in this country for over 100 years, so there is a huge excess of supply (see #2). It doesn't help that the piano plays a much less prominent role in American life than it once did (see #4).

2. Craigslist, eBay, PianoMart, etc. compete with dealers in multiple ways. People who want to sell pianos don't need a middle man anymore, and save the 40%+ commission they'd have to pay for consigning. Buyers who are economically savvy, or simply can't afford a new instrument, buy these pianos because they are often cheaper than the dealer, especially since they often don't pay sales tax. If people feel like there is no benefit to paying more, they won't (see #7)

3. Many piano dealers have been complacent and were too slow to adapt to new market rules, or ignored them completely (see #7).

4. America has failed to prioritize education in the arts in public schools.

5. The classical music scene, for a long time, intimidated or turned off would-be music lovers by being snooty and overly intellectual. The "new music" scene has stagnated for decades due to people like John Cage, and the serialist movt, taking a dump on the compositional process. Normal people don't understand or enjoy this stuff. Heck, most music majors don't, either! At the same time, how often can you program Beethoven 5 before people get tired of it?

6. People think their 80 year old George Steck grand is a valuable heirloom, and is in mint condition, despite not having seen as much as a tuning in 25 years (see #1).


7. Dealers who are honest, passionate about their products (and music), have exceptional customer service, are business savvy, and engage their community are likely to remain successful.
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#1990219 - 11/24/12 05:44 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
tonedefreegan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 45
Originally Posted By: justpin
Its to do with tiger parents


Interesting. And funny! Especially the bit about guitarists disguising themselves on youtube. We are talking about adult guitarists, I assume. Which just makes it that much funnier - grown humans going to that much trouble for such a silly reason. What, I wonder, do they think their parents will do? fall down dead from the shame of having a guitarist in the family?

tiger parents make me sick. and I say that as an Asian parent. but I don't care if mine drop out of school and learn the banjo, as long as they earn their keep and follow their passions smile

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#1990253 - 11/24/12 09:00 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
I just visited one of those sales.

It was something like £150 off some acoustic pianos.

The only ones in my price range were tiny dwarf pianos without the full 88 keys. Or ones with WORSE touch than my casio. How is that even possible! frown

I got chatting to the staff there who hovered behind me for a few minutes, he kept insisting this £4K Yamaha (which in his defence did sound lovely) was right up my street.

But aside from me in there for a whole hour, nobody else came into the shop.

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#1990262 - 11/24/12 09:22 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Beethoven is right.

My dad and grandfather were in the tuning business too. My dad taught me not only how to tune but also how to run it. Honesty was ALWAYS top on his list. Next was morals, ethics and of course, he always stressed quality. Quality and honesty is something that is lacking in so, so, many businesses today. I see it lacking in the tuning business constantly.

Dad always said that in hard times, those that generally deserve to go out should go out. Those that don't know how to run a business may go out and those that are the most unethical will be one of the first to go in many cases. I'm seeing that with tuners too. Some can't make it for many of these reasons and then some, so have left to go into something else. It may have needed weeding out.....

American tends to shop more for price over quality not only in the appliance or piano buying industry as we see posted here continually "is this a good price" but also in the quality department. Many do not even consider quality, just price assuming that one tuner is like another which isn't further from the truth. It is the same with all types of busineses. As I have said many times before, you get what you pay for in many cases if not most.
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Piano Technicians Guild
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www.grootpiano.com

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#1990269 - 11/24/12 09:57 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
You remind me of many car mechanics around here.

In the UK we have a road worthiness test every year after the first 36 months a car has been on the road.

There are a lot of dodgy mechanics who will fail a perfectly fine car in order to make money on the workshop side of things.

I've caught several of them at it.


In fact it reminds me of a lot of things. Opticians who every single year tell you your eyes have gotten weaker. Therefore you need a completely new pair which is very very slightly stronger.

I always get two eye tests and look over last year and never bring me glasses to an eye test.

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#1990286 - 11/24/12 11:12 AM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
wizman Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/14/12
Posts: 4
Loc: west coast USA
i work for a major dealer here in the states and i can tell you that, for the last year, business has been extremely rough. as a sales guy, i can assure everyone that less and less people are considering grands and even verticals. most of our business is digitals. which is a sad thought from my experience because most of the digitals are just being bought by parents who want to spend the least amount of money on their kids, shying away from a $5,000 quality acoustic piano that could last a century for a $1500-$2000 digital. people's priorities are just mixed up. so many people are buying new $30-40,000 cars every 3-4 years so they can keep their status up but they're reluctant to even spend $5,000 on something that will last a lifetime.

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#1990322 - 11/24/12 01:11 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4372
Loc: Jersey Shore
Water seeks its own level. We will have enough piano shops that we need based on demand. No more, no less.

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#1990325 - 11/24/12 01:17 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Robert 45 Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/18/06
Posts: 1115
Loc: Auckland New Zealand
Modern technology permeates our lives, or at least for those of us who live in contemporary "western" societies. It is not surprising that piano manufacturers are complying with the demand for less expensive pianos in providing cheaper "digitals". It certainly helps the large manufacturers ride through these rough, economic times. I agree that it is disappointing that priority spending on cars, which in their current form, have serious implications for the environment and city planning, takes precedence over the purchase of fine instruments of invaluable cultural enrichment and individual, intellectual enhancement. We live in a world of shifting values, steeped in materialism and "the reality is" kind of thinking. In my view, the truth is that a future generation of parents will come to their senses and make learning the piano for their children, non negotiable. In other words, I am optimistic that with the commitment of governments, educators and parents, better times are ahead for the piano industry.

Kind regards,

Robert.

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#1990339 - 11/24/12 01:50 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Robert 45]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1474
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: Robert 45
Modern technology permeates our lives, or at least for those of us who live in contemporary "western" societies. It is not surprising that piano manufacturers are complying with the demand for less expensive pianos in providing cheaper "digitals". It certainly helps the large manufacturers ride through these rough, economic times. I agree that it is disappointing that priority spending on cars, which in their current form, have serious implications for the environment and city planning, takes precedence over the purchase of fine instruments of invaluable cultural enrichment and individual, intellectual enhancement. We live in a world of shifting values, steeped in materialism and "the reality is" kind of thinking. In my view, the truth is that a future generation of parents will come to their senses and make learning the piano for their children, non negotiable. In other words, I am optimistic that with the commitment of governments, educators and parents, better times are ahead for the piano industry.

Kind regards,

Robert.


Stephen Foster wrote a wonderful song entitled:

"Beautiful Dreamer"

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#1990340 - 11/24/12 01:51 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Mark...]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1474
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: Mark...
Water seeks its own level. We will have enough piano shops that we need based on demand. No more, no less.


I hadn't thought of that.

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#1990380 - 11/24/12 03:57 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Norbert Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13961
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
And nobody knows what that "level" will be.....

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (11/24/12 03:58 PM)
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604-951-8642

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#1990395 - 11/24/12 04:42 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4393
Loc: San Jose, CA
Clef
"...So many other businesses, which want to move product, use advertizing to stimulate demand, but piano makers seem to know better."

Furtwangler
"...There are 4 ads for piano makers on this page alone."

Clef
Preaching to the choir. Or, targeted marketing, to say it another way. But I was talking about mass marketing, intended to inform people (whose attention it had escaped) that they desire a certain product.

Instead of wresting sales interest from one brand to another, it actually generates new sales and creates a broader--- and less precarious--- base.
_________________________
Clef


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#1990401 - 11/24/12 04:59 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Jeff Clef]
Robert 45 Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/18/06
Posts: 1115
Loc: Auckland New Zealand
Stephen Foster wrote a wonderful song entitled:

"Beautiful Dreamer"

Dear Furtwangler,
There is also a wonderful truism that "sarcasm is the lowest form of wit".

Kind regards,

Robert.

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#1990415 - 11/24/12 05:26 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Furtwangler]
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4372
Loc: Jersey Shore
Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
Originally Posted By: Mark...
Water seeks its own level. We will have enough piano shops that we need based on demand. No more, no less.


I hadn't thought of that.


Glad to have helped..

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#1990432 - 11/24/12 06:06 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5259
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
You ever think that pianos stores are similar to the companies that sold buggy whips that Danny Devito speaks about in Other People's Money?

... an increasing share of a shrinking market ... ?

If I had the space and the money for monthly tunings ... and regular maintenance, I'd own a nine foot Bösendorfer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7rvupKipmY
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#1990454 - 11/24/12 07:19 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Robert 45]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1474
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: Robert 45
Stephen Foster wrote a wonderful song entitled:

"Beautiful Dreamer"

Dear Furtwangler,
There is also a wonderful truism that "sarcasm is the lowest form of wit".

Kind regards,

Robert.


I think of myself as a wit.

My wife says I am half right.

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#1990456 - 11/24/12 07:20 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Mark...]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1474
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: Mark...
Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
Originally Posted By: Mark...
Water seeks its own level. We will have enough piano shops that we need based on demand. No more, no less.


I hadn't thought of that.


Glad to have helped..


Just as long as there are always enough Estonia dealers - that's all I really care about.

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#1990458 - 11/24/12 07:29 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Jeff Clef]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1474
Loc: Danville, California
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
Clef
"...So many other businesses, which want to move product, use advertizing to stimulate demand, but piano makers seem to know better."

Furtwangler
"...There are 4 ads for piano makers on this page alone."

Clef
Preaching to the choir. Or, targeted marketing, to say it another way. But I was talking about mass marketing, intended to inform people (whose attention it had escaped) that they desire a certain product.

Instead of wresting sales interest from one brand to another, it actually generates new sales and creates a broader--- and less precarious--- base.


What the majority of members of this forum do not appreciate is the very small size of most piano mfrs. You might be astonished to find how small they are - including some of those advertising on this page.

They cannot afford "mass marketing". Not even close.

A small "mass marketing" budget would dwarf their annual sales volume.

And thus they certainly cannot - and should not even consider - attempting to "broaden the base". That would be suicidal, especially in a declining product category like acoustic pianos. It would be like trying to hold back the tide with a broom.

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#1990481 - 11/24/12 08:22 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: Dave Horne]
dsch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/08
Posts: 325
Loc: florida
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
You ever think that pianos stores are similar to the companies that sold buggy whips that Danny Devito speaks about in Other People's Money?

... an increasing share of a shrinking market ... ?

If I had the space and the money for monthly tunings ... and regular maintenance, I'd own a nine foot Bösendorfer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7rvupKipmY



This reminds me of a clip I show my Survey of Calculus students regarding elasticity of demand.

From "The Wire"--profanity warning:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGgRtiCVo2w

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#1990482 - 11/24/12 08:29 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: wizman]
Macy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 562
Originally Posted By: wizman
i work for a major dealer here in the states and i can tell you that, for the last year, business has been extremely rough. as a sales guy, i can assure everyone that less and less people are considering grands and even verticals. most of our business is digitals. ... people's priorities are just mixed up. ...

Perhaps you don't realize that some people's priorities have changed, and I wouldn't concede they are mixed up. For instance, until a few years ago I wasted hours driving through traffic to retail stores, dealing with salesman that didn't know their products or could care less that I got the best product for my needs, settled for products of the "wrong" brand that were in stock at one store or drove all over town to find a store that had the right brand, etc. etc. etc. My priorities were mixed up then. Now I buy a huge amount of stuff over the net whenever I can and save my time and frustration for more worthy priorities.

People change their priorities to better use their time and energy (physical and emotional) when better opportunities or better ways of doing things become available. Perhaps the move to digital pianos is in part because many people are fed up with some of the practices of the acoustic piano industry and now have a digital alternative. My recent negative buying experiences were discussed above so I won't reiterate them again here. Except to say, that anyone that willingly participates in the "car dealer sales process" to buy a piano is an idiot in my mind. I quit buying cars that way over 30 years ago and wasn't about to do it again to buy a piano now. (Unfortunately, the poor quality in the acoustic piano industry, and the lack of competition and scarcity of product in piano stores precludes many methods of working around their archaic process that are easy to use in the car industry.)


Edited by Macy (11/24/12 08:31 PM)
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Macy

CVP-409GP, Vintage D, Ivory II GP's & American Concert D, Ravenscroft 275, True Keys American D, Garritan Authorized Steinway, Alicia's Keys, EWQL Pianos, MainStage, iPad/forScore/PageFlip Cicada, Custom Mac MIDI/Audio Software Design, Macs Everywhere

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#1990521 - 11/24/12 11:03 PM Re: Piano shops aren't surviving [Re: justpin]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3789
Now that we've all moaned about the reality.....what is the fix? Is there a fix? Should Guitar Center and Sam Ash be selling acoustic pianos? At least people come to those stores and would get exposed to acoustic pianos, if they were sold there. I haven't seen much traffic in the piano stores lately. Improved economy won't be enough. The young folks are of a digital mind. One store I visited sells 75% digital, 25% acoustic. I give it 20 years, and folks will yearn for a new acoustic piano, because all they can afford is a digital. Just as many yearn for a Steinway or other similar concert quality instrument today.

I predicted the coming digital dominance some 5 years ago in these forums. I'm sad to say my suggestions then have come true.
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