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#2026943 - 02/04/13 02:12 PM Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5561
The world-famous department store in Knightsbridge, London (which once boasted it could supply anything from anywhere in the world, from elephants to Fabergé eggs....) has closed its piano department because of lack of sales. Sales of pianos in the UK have dwindled from 14000/year in the 1960s to 4000/year today, according to the BBC Radio 3 presenter of the 'In Tune' evening drive-time program today, Suzy Klein. (I presume she meant acoustic pianos).

A sad day indeed. I remember visiting its piano department some years ago when it had Bösendorfer grands. Last time I visited, the piano department occupied just a small area of the floor, and C. Bechstein shared space with digitals, albeit top of the range ones like the Röland V-Piano Grand. It's all no more...... cry
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"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2026948 - 02/04/13 02:19 PM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: bennevis]
Norbert Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14270
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Large department stores have never been an ideal to shop for a specialty item such as a pianos, especially high end ones.

In Canada we saw these changes already decades ago when our national chain Hudson Bay was very active [and successful..] in piano sales.

Harrods simply lived on borrowed time and had a longer run on it than most others.

Norbert
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#2026986 - 02/04/13 03:56 PM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: Norbert]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1836
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted By: Norbert
Large department stores have never been an ideal to shop for a specialty item such as a pianos, especially high end ones.

In Canada we saw these changes already decades ago when our national chain Hudson Bay was very active [and successful..] in piano sales.

Harrods simply lived on borrowed time and had a longer run on it than most others.

Norbert


Wasn't it at Eaton's department store in Toronto where Glenn Gould found the one Steinway D that ever made him happy?
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"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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#2026989 - 02/04/13 03:58 PM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: bennevis]
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Harrods is a tourist shop!

Very few people who actually live permanently in London would dream of shopping there.
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#2026990 - 02/04/13 04:00 PM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: AJB]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5431
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: AJB
Harrods is a tourist shop!

Very few people who actually live permanently in London would dream of shopping there.

Dream?!?! When I lived in London I didn't even like the Knightbridge area... At least not right on the A4 laugh On the back things were much better and the pubs were nice! ^_^
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#2026992 - 02/04/13 04:03 PM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: bennevis]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
I was there three weeks ago and it took me ages to even find the piano dept. it was in a tiny corner and to be honest they didn't have much of interest. What was there was hugely overpriced and covered in big DO NOT TOUCH signs. Big difference to a few years ago when I had fun playing a wide variety of pianos there.

Thankfully there are still plenty of great piano shops in London. I love Jaques Samuels in particular and found the staff very friendly and helpful when I was last in. They let me go play in the Fazioli room even though it was clear I didn't have the means to purchase one. Great place.
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#2026995 - 02/04/13 04:10 PM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: AJB]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5561
Originally Posted By: AJB
Harrods is a tourist shop!

Very few people who actually live permanently in London would dream of shopping there.



Except the Sloane Rangers? (Like the late Princess of Wales.....?)
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2027000 - 02/04/13 04:14 PM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: Chris H.]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5561
Originally Posted By: Chris H.


Thankfully there are still plenty of great piano shops in London. I love Jaques Samuels in particular and found the staff very friendly and helpful when I was last in. They let me go play in the Fazioli room even though it was clear I didn't have the means to purchase one. Great place.


I certainly agree about Jacques Samuels. That Fazioli F278 has been used in several concerts by Angela Hewitt, as well as recordings, and I just love playing it. And they have a wide selection of great Shigeru Kawai grands too.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2027029 - 02/04/13 05:21 PM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: bennevis]
Norbert Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14270
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Jacques Samuels seem to be dealers for both Kawai and Yamaha.

Thinking ain't happening on this continent.

Norbert
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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#2027046 - 02/04/13 05:54 PM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: ClsscLib]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3371
Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
Originally Posted By: Norbert
Large department stores have never been an ideal to shop for a specialty item such as a pianos, especially high end ones.

In Canada we saw these changes already decades ago when our national chain Hudson Bay was very active [and successful..] in piano sales.

Harrods simply lived on borrowed time and had a longer run on it than most others.

Norbert


Wasn't it at Eaton's department store in Toronto where Glenn Gould found the one Steinway D that ever made him happy?


Yup. There's a book about it. Romance on Three Legs.
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M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
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#2027101 - 02/04/13 07:48 PM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: ClsscLib]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
Wasn't it at Eaton's department store in Toronto where Glenn Gould found the one Steinway D that ever made him happy?
I read the book about Gould's pianos a long time ago, but I think the piano was in storage in some back room. I don't know if the store was trying to sell it. Not really sure if my memory is correct here.

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#2027312 - 02/05/13 08:05 AM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: bennevis]
Joe Ravita Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/05
Posts: 27
Loc: Pittsburgh Pa
I started in the business in 1976 at the Joseph Horne Company in Pittsburgh. At the time I believe they were the only department store in the country that was not an outside lease. We had a spectacular elegant separate building with a recital hall. They carried Steinway, Sohmer, Wurlitzer, Hammond and Rodgers. The business was excellent and I remained there until July of 1984. The company was sold to a New York group that immediately phased out all hard goods. It was a shame because the sales training provided and the customer service offered were second to none.
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Wexford Pa. 15090 (Pittsburgh)
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#2027601 - 02/05/13 05:58 PM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: bennevis]
John Martin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/20/10
Posts: 11
Loc: Australia
Large department stores are not service orientated . Piano buyers need expertise and good ongoing service.

This can only be provided by piano specialists that have many years of piano knowledge and strong relationships with piano technicians and piano educators.

A piano purchase is a serious investment and piano buyers deserve to get the very best experience when they are investing in a piano.
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I manufacture , Distribute and retail pianos and related products.

Manufacturing : Wertheim pianos in Korea and China

Distribution : Wertheim and Bluthner pianos and Piano Disc player systems and silent piano systems


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#2027701 - 02/05/13 08:45 PM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: John Martin]
KurtZ Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 999
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
Originally Posted By: John Martin
Large department stores are not service orientated . Piano buyers need expertise and good ongoing service.

This can only be provided by piano specialists that have many years of piano knowledge and strong relationships with piano technicians and piano educators.



Plus many. Pianos are not microwave ovens.
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I just wanted to be just "a" guy. That's enough of a life.

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#2027889 - 02/06/13 05:59 AM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: bennevis]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5561
If I remember correctly, when Harrods's piano department occupied the whole floor in its heyday, they did have piano specialists from the respective piano brands on hand to advise customers on the merits of their pianos.

Even when I was last there and the piano department was much, much smaller, they had someone doing the C. Bechstein grands and someone else from Roland looking after the DP customers.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2027942 - 02/06/13 08:02 AM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: bennevis]
Joe Ravita Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/05
Posts: 27
Loc: Pittsburgh Pa
The situation I was involved with at Joseph Horne in the 70's was very unique. the sale staff was extremely capable, as there was on site training by every manufacturer we represented throughout the year as well as trips to manufacturer sponsored training events. We had in house RPT's, organ service and cabinet repair, we offered piano and organ instruction. As to service, the family that owned the company stressed that we will be exceptional as most of the customers spent thousands each year in the department store and they would not risk their future business over one extra larger purchase.
_________________________
Joe Ravita
Manager
Modern Piano
Wexford Pa. 15090 (Pittsburgh)
724-934-5397

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#2027947 - 02/06/13 08:18 AM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: bennevis]
rxd Online   happy
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 1820
Loc: London, England
In their heyday, Harrods, lIke all the major piano manufacturers, had a tuning and technical dept. that covered the whole country. You could also hire any combination from a pianist to a small orchestra to play for your event.

They, too, stocked all the major manufacturers pianos.


Edited by rxd (02/06/13 08:29 AM)
_________________________
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

Eschew obfuscation.



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#2028075 - 02/06/13 12:38 PM Re: Harrods (London) closes its piano department forever [Re: John Martin]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1836
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted By: John Martin
Large department stores are not service orientated . Piano buyers need expertise and good ongoing service.

This can only be provided by piano specialists that have many years of piano knowledge and strong relationships with piano technicians and piano educators.

A piano purchase is a serious investment and piano buyers deserve to get the very best experience when they are investing in a piano.


At least in my experience, large department stores today are nothing like what they were 40 or 50 years ago. They were a lot more about quality merchandise and professional service than is true today. Today there's so much more competition and pressure to keep costs to a minimum that real customer service -- or almost any customer service -- is difficult to provide.

Even still, there are some departments at some major stores where it is still possible to find good service and fair prices for quality goods.

Pianos, though, are just too special an item for that kind of setting. At least today...
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"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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