Are piano stores trying to go out of business?

Posted by: KillerCharlie

Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 12:06 AM

I basically got kicked out of a piano store this weekend...

I was in Portland to hear Valentina Lisitsa. Since I'm very close to buying a grand piano in the $20k+ range and I've checked out my local market a lot, I did some piano shopping there.

The first store I went to they were pretty friendly at first. They had a two instruments that I was extremely interested in. After playing for about 30 minutes, a little girl comes in with her piano teacher. While I'm playing the salesmen tell me to stop for a little bit so the girl can try out pianos with her teacher. After waiting a good 15 minutes (during which the girl played maybe 1-2 minutes), I started playing again. The salesman I was talking to came over and told me to stop, so I did. Another 15 minutes and the same thing - this girl has maybe been taking lessons 2 years and is obviously a beginner. For every minute she plays, her teacher is chatting with the salesman for 10. They told me to stop again... the third time another customer started playing so I played too. They told me she'd be done in 20 minutes. After 30 minutes (and her not playing more than 5 of that), I started playing again. When another salesman came up to I had it and left the store.

I drove 3 hours and was about to pay $20k cash for a piano, but I couldn't play because this little girl was trying out a few cheap uprights. Again, she was playing maybe 10% of the time. I was pretty pissed off.

So then I went to the next store in town. This is a very large store, and I had checked their website the day before. It turns out they weren't letting customers into the whole store because they were having a recital for kids. Why do they not bother telling their customers that they're basically closed the entire day on a busy weekend?

With the down economy I'm surprised that some piano stores are still in business.

The third store I went to actually knew what they were doing. I walked in and they told me they were having a recital... in their recital room. Their entire store was open and they showed me around. While I was playing a few times they politely asked me to keep it down for a few minutes while they pointed out pianos to another customer, which I had no problem with. It was a way better experience than the other two stores.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 12:30 AM

Yeah, your mistake in all three instances, presumably, was not calling ahead to schedule an appointment. That's kind of rule #1 for best service when dealing with piano stores, because they're different than Wal-Mart, ya know. Doing so ensures they recognize you as serious, will help minimize interruption/get attention from salespeople, and make sure that they are open for business. The Steinway dealer in Chicago has special events all the time, and so does the Fazioli dealer... they expect serious buyers to schedule appointments.

With regard to the first store, you don't even say whether you mentioned to the salesman that you were a serious buyer... even so, it is not unreasonable for them to ask you to stop playing after 30 minutes if there are other people in the store (who likely called ahead to, you know, schedule an appointment). Sorry, but no sympathy, here.




Posted by: KillerCharlie

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 12:34 AM

I told the dealer I was very serious about buying one of their instruments, and before they other people came he started pushing the sale on me.

In total I waited a full 60 minutes, not 30. The girl clearly wasn't that interested in trying out different pianos.

Sure, it would've been better if I called, but that's not what people expect these days. That's probably another reason why piano companies are going under. Customers expect that when you post your hours, you'll be open during those hours.

Oh, and I didn't have any problems at the third store, it was an example of a great experience. I guess you didn't actually read that part though, it was kind of a long post.
Posted by: EmilyM.

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 12:53 AM

Since I've been doing lots of piano shopping in Portland, and know which 3 stores you are talking about, I have an idea as to which one was the "nice" one. Good luck getting a piano!:)
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 01:00 AM

If you're ready to pay $20k in cash for a piano, I'll make you a deal. Pay $12k in cash, and buy me a $6k piano. Saves you $2k, you'll get the same quality, and I'll finally have a decent piano on which to play. wink
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 01:43 AM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Yeah, your mistake in all three instances, presumably, was not calling ahead to schedule an appointment. That's kind of rule #1 for best service when dealing with piano stores, because they're different than Wal-Mart, ya know.
I'm honestly not buying that (not because it's not true, or because you said it or anything)! If this is the case then I have to agree that such businesses should close down... frown

It's absurd to think that a serious customer needs to notify over the phone/email in order to be taken seriously... Come on... He's ready to put down 20,000$ and he's trying out grand pianos. Isn't that enough to be treated at least with some dignity?
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 02:43 AM

Originally Posted By: KillerCharlie

In total I waited a full 60 minutes, not 30. The girl clearly wasn't that interested in trying out different pianos.


Did you ask her? Maybe she was intimidated by your playing, or passive aggressive body language, etc. Your post has a hint of "me, me, me" in it, so I wouldn't find the latter surprising.

Originally Posted By: KillerCharlie
Sure, it would've been better if I called, but that's not what people expect these days. That's probably another reason why piano companies are going under. Customers expect that when you post your hours, you'll be open during those hours.


Really? I called my local WoodCraft store the other day to make sure they had something I needed before I drove the 15 minutes each way to get there and back. It's not hard. Piano dealers and companies are "going under" because supply>demand, among other factors.

Originally Posted By: KillerCharlie
Oh, and I didn't have any problems at the third store, it was an example of a great experience. I guess you didn't actually read that part though, it was kind of a long post.


Of course I read it, but it seems that you missed the point of what I was saying. If you had called the first store, you might have been able to arrange a time for extended playing, and given enough notice, they might have even tuned the piano for you; if you had called the second store, you would have known that they were closed to the public that day; if you had called the third store, you would have gotten a heads up regarding the event, and possibly arranged to come earlier or later. Regardless of whether or not you are obligated to do this, it would have saved you time and grief.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 02:57 AM

Originally Posted By: Nikolas
I'm honestly not buying that (not because it's not true, or because you said it or anything)! If this is the case then I have to agree that such businesses should close down... frown

It's absurd to think that a serious customer needs to notify over the phone/email in order to be taken seriously... Come on...


A customer is free to do whatever he or she wants, but that isn't always the most prudent. When dealing with a specialty store such as a piano dealer, car dealer, or hi-fi audio dealer, etc. the customer should almost always schedule an appointment, and dress appropriately, for that matter. This isn't like going out and buying a box of Twinkies... you're conducting business. Most places welcome walk-ins, but even in these places, you will almost always get better service if you call ahead. Period.


Originally Posted By: Nikolas
He's ready to put down 20,000$ and he's trying out grand pianos. Isn't that enough to be treated at least with some dignity?


That's a little over-dramatic, eh? "The big, bad piano dealer let me play for only 30 minutes before asking me to let its other customers play!" Sure, the OP is frustrated and as a pianist, I understand that, but that's how life goes, sometimes.
Posted by: backto_study_piano

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 06:47 AM

When I was piano shopping for a few months earlier this year (more like $100k), I never walked into a piano store unannounced expecting to play. Some occasions I called in to make an appointment, and was told that it was available now.

Most cases involved making an appointment (for a full 2 hours).

Always make an appointment - or expect not to be able to play continuously. Which, I suspect, the teacher had done. In that case, the teacher was probably the customer - but the girl was the one whose parents would be paying for the piano.
Posted by: lilylady

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 07:05 AM

Just curious...

Did you purchase a piano from dealer 3?

Did you enjoy the Lisitsa concert?
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 07:52 AM

The last piano store I visited had no other customers in the store at the time... so, I played to my hearts content. I also called ahead of time to let them know I was coming.

Business must be picking up. smile (In Portland, anyway)

Rick
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 09:46 AM

Here in Piano Forum, we often mention dealer service. Obviously a customer was offend by the treatment he received and that is not the mark of a top-notch dealership.

Is a phone call necessary prior to a visit? Not at all. The staff should be ready to assist any and all customers during regular business hours. If there is private usage, such as a recital, then it is how well the staff explains the situation that is important. An invitation from the staff to return at a better time would be expected. For a serious buyer, this is often accomplished "after hours."

One thing that all customers should expect is to be treated well when entering any retail showroom. How the staff handles any situation is an indicator of the quality of the dealership. A shopper should not put up with rudeness or ill-mannered treatment. Take your checkbook elsewhere.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 09:52 AM

While allowing shoppers to evaluate instruments is a basic tenent of piano sales, most stores aren't structured to allow more than one player at a time. Even a single player can make it difficult for staff to talk to phone shoppers or each other. It is kinda like an "occupational hazzard". smile

A dealer has his music school's winter recitals coming and younger students need to be exposed to playing outside the teaching studio. They are at a scheduled lesson with another student coming in 30 minutes, so there is somewhat of a time urgency. Often the teacher, if they are good and have a strong following, is a major source of piano sales.

At the same time a well-meaning walk-in "player" comes in and begins evaluatiung pianos. Being the Christmas season another walk-in or a shopper with an appointment is present. And, of course, the phones are ringing off the hook!

I have been in this scenario hundreds of times. For most of my career our store also sold guitars, amps, band and orchestral instruments, all in one very large open space compounding the problem. Over years I developed "techniques" to handle these situations to everyone's satisfaction, but is is a learned skill.

Apparently the staff that was present in the first two of the Op's visits hadn't yet acquired the skill.

Perhaps, as a sales trainer and consultant, I should plan a trip to Portland!

Posted by: Plowboy

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 10:41 AM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
While allowing shoppers to evaluate instruments is a basic tenent of piano sales, most stores aren't structured to allow more than one player at a time.


Are there piano stores that have more than one customer at a time?

Having purchased three pianos now, I never called to make an appointment. I hope the three dealers who sold me pianos aren't too pissed off at me. I didn't mean to be an inconvenience to them.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 10:53 AM

I think one's first customer should be given full consideration before moving on to another, even if the latter has an appointment. However, one should point out to the first customer that someone with an appointment is due, and ask that the customer be considerate of that.

I also feel that 30 minutes of playing is more than enough time to evaluate a piano. I can get the gist of a piano with a chromatic scale, spending less than a minute. Much longer than that, and the differences become more imagined than real, or you end up deciding on the basis of factors which will change as the piano gets played in and serviced.
Posted by: spanishbuddha

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 11:20 AM

I've been in plenty of piano stores when another more accomplished player hogs the audio space of the store, and gives no concession to another player trying to get bar or two in. 30 minutes continuous is OTT IMHO without an appointment.

Maybe the OP's handle reflects his attitude. smile Or just read the first post. But, also the staff should or could have suggested he come back later for a private session.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 11:53 AM

Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Yeah, your mistake in all three instances, presumably, was not calling ahead to schedule an appointment. That's kind of rule #1 for best service when dealing with piano stores, because they're different than Wal-Mart, ya know.
I'm honestly not buying that (not because it's not true, or because you said it or anything)! If this is the case then I have to agree that such businesses should close down... frown

It's absurd to think that a serious customer needs to notify over the phone/email in order to be taken seriously... Come on... He's ready to put down 20,000$ and he's trying out grand pianos. Isn't that enough to be treated at least with some dignity?
I agree completely based on numerous visits to dealers in NYC. I have never called ahead to make an appointment and have regularly visited most of the stores on Piano Row. Nor have the huge majority of customers who visited the store while I was there called ahead.

Even when I've told them I am NOT presently interested in buying a piano having bought one a few years ago, they treat me better than that. They understand that I may be interested in the future or I may tell another person about my experience at the store or about my impression of some piano. I do stop playing if another customer comes in, but that's because I'm not planning on buying a piano in the near future. If I was a serious customer and they asked me to stop playing without trying to do some balancing act to satisfy both customers I would be annoyed.

Even if someone calls ahead I think it's unreasonable and stupid if a dealer gives them endless time to try out pianos while making other customers sit by idly. And I think the huge majority of piano shoppers simply wouldn't consider calling ahead so it's wrong to say this is the first rule to get good service.

OTOH I do think the OP made the mistake of starting to play again after 15 minutes apparently without indicating to the salesperson that he'd like to to do so and was getting impatient. This would have given the salesperson the opportunity to try and do some kind of balancing act to keep both parties happy.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 12:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen

I have been in this scenario hundreds of times. For most of my career our store also sold guitars, amps, band and orchestral instruments, all in one very large open space compounding the problem. Over years I developed "techniques" to handle these situations to everyone's satisfaction, but is is a learned skill.
Exactly. I think it's possible to ask one customer to stop as long as it's done the right way and the customer thinks they are being treated fairly and politely.
Posted by: frog97

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 12:15 PM

I have a little more empathy for Killer than I do for Beethoven, I have been looking at piano stores from time to time in my search, and I have had a variety of experiences from so-called sales-people, from straight out-lies, too very snarky remarks.
I mentioned this forum to one sales person and he just frowned, and then I mentioned something Del and said in a post and he told me Del did not know what he was talking about. (I would think they would like an informed customer?)
Now I may not know that much about pianos, but I am very well read and I read all I can about a subject before diving into it.
Like many others here, research and study on the vast subject of pianos will yield some varying opinions but I think it is the snarky attitude that really gets to the buyers. Granted, most of us are not that familiar with the idiocracies of piano sales-persons, and that is a larger object to get over than that of the piano it-self. My belief is that most piano sales-persons, really don’t want to have a conversation, they just want you to sign on the dotted line, end of story.
In addition I had one sales person tell me how great is house and pool were and he did not really want to talk about the pianos at all, He just asked if I could afford and piano at this price range. But, from my research I knew it was marked-up $1000 over MSRP. He was a real…(you can fill in the blank).
Beethoven, knowing that it is a good idea to call to make an appointment before sounds great, and I will take that advise in the future, But, with that said, I have contacted three different piano stores before driving out, at some distance to see if they had a model I would like to see, and they did not respond by phone or email. (Maybe mfg websites could be a little better for the window shopper as well, Kawai site is good with the videos, others should do the same)
People want information, granted you don’t have to answer all the questions or objections they might have but, helping them to know where to get the information would be helpful, also letting them try out the pianos to their hearts content before they put down $$$$ is a must
Posted by: frog97

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 12:41 PM

What I would like to hear Is something like this,
Oh, you like to read Pw blogs, tell me what have you learned?
Oh, you read Piano buyer, anything stick out in in mind that you did or did not like?
Our completion makes really nice pianos, so our brands have to make really nice pianos also or we would be out of business. (less bashing the others, it doesn’t work)

This happened in one store, I was looking at a used Boston, (now I wish I had bought it)
I was playing the Boston, I did not know anything at all about it, I knew I liked it.





The Sales-person tells me that they had refinished the Boston, because they did not like the cheap Steinway finish it came with, I know they did not re-finish the piano, why he would say this I don’t know, Anyway, if he had said something like, Boston is made in the same factory as the Kawais’ we carry and are also a very fine piano, it would be sitting in my house today.

Also, I think the shopping experience for a digital Piano is very different from the acoustic piano market.
Thanks “Digital Dave” for the great treatment you gave to me and my family.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 01:13 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Yeah, your mistake in all three instances, presumably, was not calling ahead to schedule an appointment. That's kind of rule #1 for best service when dealing with piano stores, because they're different than Wal-Mart, ya know.
I'm honestly not buying that (not because it's not true, or because you said it or anything)! If this is the case then I have to agree that such businesses should close down... frown

It's absurd to think that a serious customer needs to notify over the phone/email in order to be taken seriously... Come on... He's ready to put down 20,000$ and he's trying out grand pianos. Isn't that enough to be treated at least with some dignity?
I agree completely based on numerous visits to dealers in NYC. I have never called ahead to make an appointment and have regularly visited most of the stores on Piano Row. Nor have the huge majority of customers who visited the store while I was there called ahead.

Even when I've told them I am NOT presently interested in buying a piano having bought one a few years ago, they treat me better than that. They understand that I may be interested in the future or I may tell another person about my experience at the store or about my impression of some piano. I do stop playing if another customer comes in, but that's because I'm not planning on buying a piano in the near future. If I was a serious customer and they asked me to stop playing without trying to do some balancing act to satisfy both customers I would be annoyed.

Even if someone calls ahead I think it's unreasonable and stupid if a dealer gives them endless time to try out pianos while making other customers sit by idly. And I think the huge majority of piano shoppers simply wouldn't consider calling ahead so it's wrong to say this is the first rule to get good service.

OTOH I do think the OP made the mistake of starting to play again after 15 minutes apparently without indicating to the salesperson that he'd like to to do so and was getting impatient. This would have given the salesperson the opportunity to try and do some kind of balancing act to keep both parties happy.


Keep in mind that the quality and professionality of the sales staff on piano row is atypical. You couldn't support that degree of professionalism in a low volume or mid-volume store.
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 01:21 PM

I admit that we have a fairly unusual situation, but our showroom is split up into several rather large spaces, a total of 7 rooms in two buildings, and there are times that we have three or four people playing without disturbing each other.

Although there is always the time when two customers wish to spend time on pianos right next to each other. in this situation judicious management of our most precious resource is needed - I am referring to time, of course.

I have never had an unreasonable customer that did not understand the concept of 'taking turns' though. Most folks are very reasonable when they see that someone else also needs a little playing time. in fact, I have seen two customers compare notes and help to reassure each other about their purchases.

This becomes a nastier situation when, instead of wanting to play two pianos standing side by side, the two customers want to play the same piano. smile
Posted by: BDB

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 01:28 PM

If two customers want to play the same piano, that should be the ideal situation for them each to learn how the piano will sound to others.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 01:33 PM

Solution!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJkL_4niC4w
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 02:23 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Keep in mind that the quality and professionality of the sales staff on piano row is atypical. You couldn't support that degree of professionalism in a low volume or mid-volume store.


Please tell me "professionality" isn't a word!
Posted by: BDB

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 02:27 PM

Professionality is not a word. You are welcome!

(Unless, perhaps it refers to someone whose profession is being a personality.)
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 02:28 PM

Phew, thanks!
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 02:30 PM

It is a very strange story, KC. There is something wrong, somewhere.

I was eating in a restaurant, where a would-be customer from off the street was told, "I'm sorry, sir, you'll have to leave; you're taking people's appetites away."

Your way of writing is presentable, and if you are that way in person, I would imagine a store would be glad to show to you and sell to you. Being dismissed from one store is fairly well believable; we have had letters about such in the past. Maybe they were in a bad mood, or were snarky by nature. It's not good form, but it can happen. Being dismissed from a second store is more remarkable--- perhaps you were in a bad mood by that time.

But at last, you found civil treatment at the third store. I am relieved, for the honor of the piano stores of Portland... even though, by this time, your story is starting to sound like a remake of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears."

It seems like there must be something left out of the tale.

I hope you found an acceptable piano behind Door Number Three (your story also reminds me of a television game show--- what was it called, "Let's Make a Deal?" Or, "Let's Don't Make One." Of course, the contestants had to guess what was behind the door or curtain, so you have the advantage.)

I would think, that if you were so displeased with the floor staff at the first two stores, you might get better satisfaction by calling their managers than by writing to PianoWorld... since we really can do nothing for you.

As for the title of your letter, "Are piano stores trying to go out of business?" I would have to reply, "No." Since only you know the full particulars of what occurred, maybe if you think this answer over it will come clear in your mind.

Anyway, I hope you are able to go home with both a piano and a store that you love. If it were me, I'd remember Valentina and forget the stores. Even Goldilocks could not ask for a happier ending. (What did happen to her, anyway--- didn't the bears eat her?)
Posted by: backto_study_piano

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 05:49 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
If two customers want to play the same piano, that should be the ideal situation for them each to learn how the piano will sound to others.


On a couple of occasions, I used this to my advantage - if the other pianist was accomplished. In one case, a much better pianist was playing a piano near one I was looking at, so I asked if he would mind playing "my" piano - which he agreed to - it was much nicer than the piano he was considering for himself. But I was then able to walk around listening to the piano as an "audience of one" from different angles.
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 05:55 PM

Hey Clef, Doesn't Valentina has gold locks? So Killer visits Portland to see a concert by the esteemed golden locked Valentina Lisitsa and has a Goldilocks experience of his own (in addition to the concert)! How ironic. Thank you for pointing that out.

When I have dealt with piano stores I have, in general, not called ahead, but I do try to be sensitive to their needs. On a number of occasions I've been asked to schedule a time the next day (I'm talking about you Ori), which was perfectly okay with me. I agree with the poster who suggested the problem was that he didn't approach the sales staff at store #1 and mention that he was serious and wished to start playing again. But the real test of whether all this angst was worth it would be if he purchased a piano at store #3. Of course if he didn't it might be because it wasn't "the one" but we all like happy endings so please let us know if this experience had a positive outcome. Oh and sorry that the forum didn't unanimously agree with you.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 07:12 PM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
Originally Posted By: Steve Cohen
Keep in mind that the quality and professionality of the sales staff on piano row is atypical. You couldn't support that degree of professionalism in a low volume or mid-volume store.


Please tell me "professionality" isn't a word!
There are over 100,000 Google hits for "professionality definition". Whether or not it's in the dictionary it seems to be in common usage.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 07:14 PM

If a dealer is having an event that will prevent potential customers from trying out pianos they should indicate this on their website.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 07:18 PM

I think the idea that calling in advance entitles the caller to take over(in the sense that other customers cannot play pianos) the showroom for an extended period of time is arrogant unless the time is scheduled during non regular business hours. The fact that some dealers may operate this way doesn't make it right unless they indicate on their website that their showroom is open by appointment only.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 07:45 PM

The proper term is "professionalitiness." (Thank you, Mr. Colbert!)
Posted by: KillerCharlie

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 07:46 PM

Valentina was awesome and she gave 4 encores - the recital was 3 hours long! She was signing autographs and chatting afterward but it looked like half the people watching the concert were waiting in line and I had to drive back. There is no other classical pianist that cares as much for their audience!

I really want to buy a piano at store #3, which has a satellite store where I live. Unfortunately they have more high and low end pianos than mid end, and I wasn't interested in any of their particular used/rebuilt instruments at the time. Their satellite store here doesn't sell used/rebuilt pianos except flawlessly restored Steinways. The salesmen in the satellite store are also very friendly and reasonable.

Store #3 was by far the busiest and I had to stop several times for other customers. That did not bother me. They were very reasonable about how they dealt with this.

I think the thing that bothered me the most was that the little girl wasn't that interested in pianos and wasn't even playing 80% of the time. I was at the opposite end of a huge showroom behind lots of pianos so she couldn't see me.

I just didn't understand why store #2 didn't have a separate room for recitals like most stores I go to. If they want to be 1/2 piano store and 1/2 recital room, fine, but they've lost me as a customer.

For every terrible store there is an awesome one so it evens out in the end. It's not like buying a car in a big city though. I went to one car dealership and didn't like them, so I went across town and bought the exact same model from another dealership. You don't have that luxury with pianos. If you really like a certain model you have to put up with it.
Posted by: backto_study_piano

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 08:03 PM

Originally Posted By: KillerCharlie
...I really want to buy a piano at store #3, which has a satellite store where I live.


This sounds like a recipe for disappointment. You're buying a piano which you'll play for 20, 30, maybe 50 years.

You need to buy THE PIANO you like playing, and will want to play endlessly when you get it home.

In 3 years time, you'll have forgotten all about the store - but you'll still have the piano, and if it's the wrong one, having bought it from the right store isn't going to help one little bit.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/06/12 11:57 PM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
I'm honestly not buying that (not because it's not true, or because you said it or anything)! If this is the case then I have to agree that such businesses should close down... frown

It's absurd to think that a serious customer needs to notify over the phone/email in order to be taken seriously... Come on...


A customer is free to do whatever he or she wants, but that isn't always the most prudent. When dealing with a specialty store such as a piano dealer, car dealer, or hi-fi audio dealer, etc. the customer should almost always schedule an appointment, and dress appropriately, for that matter. This isn't like going out and buying a box of Twinkies... you're conducting business. Most places welcome walk-ins, but even in these places, you will almost always get better service if you call ahead. Period.
What do you mean with 'dress appropriately'? Isn't a short semi-revealing short dress appropriate enough? It seemed enough for a certain young pianist with immense talent and musicality you know! wink I bet that if she came in my (hypothetical and non existant) piano store, I'd not only let her play her heart out, but after checking with her, I'd call friends, etc and probably as for an autograph while I'm at it! grin

Let me ask you this: What if I use my cell phone and call right outside the store? Will that get me better service? grin

I'm getting silly but you'll see where I'm going with this.

Quote:
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
He's ready to put down 20,000$ and he's trying out grand pianos. Isn't that enough to be treated at least with some dignity?


That's a little over-dramatic, eh? "The big, bad piano dealer let me play for only 30 minutes before asking me to let its other customers play!" Sure, the OP is frustrated and as a pianist, I understand that, but that's how life goes, sometimes.
I wouldn't say over dramatic. You see it all depends on experience and situations. Frankly 20,000$ NOW in Greece can be a whole years salary for the middle man (not the low man, the middle man), so it's A LOT of money. I understand perfectly well the meaning of such amount and under no circumstances it's trivial.

The point is that the OP was treated poorly, exactly because the store manager (??) decided to favour someone who'd called first. I call this unreasonable to a large degree.

Where I come from we have a general quote that goes like "The customer is always right". This, of course is hardly true in a lot of ways, but one needs to show respect to a customer, no?

Originally Posted By: backto_study_piano
Originally Posted By: KillerCharlie
...I really want to buy a piano at store #3, which has a satellite store where I live.


This sounds like a recipe for disappointment. You're buying a piano which you'll play for 20, 30, maybe 50 years.

You need to buy THE PIANO you like playing, and will want to play endlessly when you get it home.

In 3 years time, you'll have forgotten all about the store - but you'll still have the piano, and if it's the wrong one, having bought it from the right store isn't going to help one little bit.
This, however, is very very correct!

who cares about bad customer service (except if they are the people who will be servicing and tuning your piano in the next 50 years in which case...). It's the piano you're interested in KC, not the store manager (?)

EDIT x 2: What I generally mean is that there shouldn't be a hard rule that one needs to call in order to be treated "ok" (whatever this 'ok' means)...
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/07/12 12:55 AM

Having regularly visited piano stores since I was six years old or so, I find nothing unusual or even unprofessional about the OPs experience, unless there's something that's been left out. IMO, this thread is just whining.... you are welcome to disagree.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/07/12 02:02 AM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Having regularly visited piano stores since I was six years old or so, I find nothing unusual or even unprofessional about the OPs experience, unless there's something that's been left out. IMO, this thread is just whining.... you are welcome to disagree.
Of course I'm welcome to disagree, there's no doubt about that! wink

But as a (more than one) business owner, I'm seeing something that I wouldn't be doing to a customer myself. That's all. I don't have any piano stores, so perhaps experience lacking means a lot in this case, but still... :-/
Posted by: Rank Piano Amateur

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/07/12 06:52 AM

I'm with pianoloverus on this one. How arrogant is it to waltz into a piano store and take over? While I enjoy visiting my local piano store and playing the pianos there, I always stop when a current, serious customer needs to try out an instrument. Perhaps the OP did not look like a serious customer. Oh wait, he hasn't bought a piano yet. . . . Moreover, I would never assume that other customers are happy just to listen to me play (which I am not good at anyway), nor would I need hours of nonstop playing to evaluate a piano, if that is my goal in going to the store. If I know that that is what I need to evaluate a piano, an appointment would be necessary. . . .In other words, I feel that one can piano-shop without an appointment, but if one knows that one will need an extended evaluation time of intense solo playing, one should also know that an appointment is necessary.

Also, I am delighted when a piano store uses its facilities to promote interest in pianos by holding recitals. Holding recitals is a GOOD thing, and demonstrates a real commitment to music and pianos on the part of the store, another GOOD thing, not something that causes me to abandon the operation.

In short, as my mother would have said, who does the OP think he is? I have been trying to figure out why the OP bothers me so much, and I appreciate the subsequent posts that have allowed me to work this out.

Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/07/12 08:56 AM

Originally Posted By: Rank Piano Amateur

Also, I am delighted when a piano store uses its facilities to promote interest in pianos by holding recitals. Holding recitals is a GOOD thing, and demonstrates a real commitment to music and pianos on the part of the store, another GOOD thing, not something that causes me to abandon the operation.

I agree completely with this point. The commitment to the community is admirable and it seems this store has been able to make their recital something of an event in the local arts community. It seems Killer wasn't able to find "the one" at store #2. Perhaps a good middle ground would be for Killer to call store #2, make and appointment, go there and see if an instrument in their inventory meets his high standards and medium budget.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/07/12 09:33 AM

I think the purpose of recitals or other events at piano dealerships is generally not about commitment to the community but mostly for for commercial reasons. To get people to come to the store and become interested in buying a piano. Of course, there will be some exceptions.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/07/12 10:11 AM

If the purpose is to get people to get people into the store and become interested in buying a piano, then they should be receptive when someone comes into the store interested in buying a piano.
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/07/12 01:07 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think the purpose of recitals or other events at piano dealerships is generally not about commitment to the community but mostly for for commercial reasons. To get people to come to the store and become interested in buying a piano. Of course, there will be some exceptions.

I disagree, there are too many piano dealers that can't be bothered to offer their space for recitals for the purpose to be commercial. When I've gone to a store for a recital it has never been about browsing instruments while I was there, it was always a family event and about the young performers. I believe too many here are too quick to ascribe evil commercial purpose to everything a piano dealer does. Recitals are for the community, even if that community is just the parents and friends of the students. It is not an event for the teachers or the store. While there may be some hope that someone might get interested in an instrument while visiting a store for a recital, as Killer found out, actually trying an instrument isn't possible at that time.

I hope some of the dealers will chime in here because I'd be interested in hearing whether they offer their space for recitals and what they view as the purpose of this action.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/07/12 02:13 PM

A lot of us in the business do things which benefit the business, although altruistically. Those of us who do may never reap as much direct benefit from what we offer as what we spend on them.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/07/12 03:55 PM

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think the purpose of recitals or other events at piano dealerships is generally not about commitment to the community but mostly for for commercial reasons. To get people to come to the store and become interested in buying a piano. Of course, there will be some exceptions.

I disagree, there are too many piano dealers that can't be bothered to offer their space for recitals for the purpose to be commercial. When I've gone to a store for a recital it has never been about browsing instruments while I was there, it was always a family event and about the young performers. I believe too many here are too quick to ascribe evil commercial purpose to everything a piano dealer does. Recitals are for the community, even if that community is just the parents and friends of the students. It is not an event for the teachers or the store. While there may be some hope that someone might get interested in an instrument while visiting a store for a recital, as Killer found out, actually trying an instrument isn't possible at that time.

I hope some of the dealers will chime in here because I'd be interested in hearing whether they offer their space for recitals and what they view as the purpose of this action.
If you're talking about a family event for young performers then I think most usually the dealership doesn't offer their showroom for free but has some kind of rental fee.

For recitals by professionals(the kind of in store recitals I have been to), there has been some piano browsing before and after the recital and people may become interested in buying a piano even if they have to come back at a future date. Or they may tell a friend about some nice piano they saw. Finally, just because every dealership doesn't do this, I don't see why that means one can conclude it's being done for purely altruistic purposes. There are plenty of advertising methods that aren't done by all dealers.

There is nothing "evil" about doing something for "commercial purposes".
Posted by: tonedefreegan

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/07/12 10:27 PM

naive much? ANY free recital is a sales pitch. and that's ALL it is.

further, the customer is ALWAYS right, even if joe salesman thinks they're wrong. also, "dress appropriately"? are you kidding? it's not 1952. more importantly, the richest person I know dresses like a homeless man and drives a $500 car. is his money not the same as that of the poor man in a suit?
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 01:39 AM

Originally Posted By: tonedefreegan
naive much? ANY free recital is a sales pitch. and that's ALL it is.


Actually, dealers usually charge rental fees to use their facilities....

Originally Posted By: tonedefreegan
further, the customer is ALWAYS right even if joe salesman thinks they're wrong.


No. There is a difference between giving good customer service and allowing the customer to take advantage.

Originally Posted By: tonedefreegan
also, "dress appropriately"? are you kidding? it's not 1952. more importantly, the richest person I know dresses like a homeless man and drives a $500 car. is his money not the same as that of the poor man in a suit?


There are certain things that just shouldn't be done, and one of them is waltzing into a Steinway or whatever dealer dressed like a hobo. Like it or not, you will be treated better, and taken more seriously if you dress well. Oh, and I'm 26... I know nothing about 1952.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 02:02 AM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: tonedefreegan
naive much? ANY free recital is a sales pitch. and that's ALL it is.


Actually, dealers usually charge rental fees to use their facilities....
Even more so, it's still business to them rather than trying to spark the interest of classical music, etc... This comes along with the fact of the rental, but I'm not sure there's much else into that.

Quote:
Originally Posted By: tonedefreegan
further, the customer is ALWAYS right even if joe salesman thinks they're wrong.


No. There is a difference between giving good customer service and allowing the customer to take advantage.
How would the OP, or anyone else take advantage? The OP went to 3 different stores looking for a piano more or less...

If the OP was going there week after week, then, yes, the salesman should kick him out, but not in this case, and not like this.

Quote:
Originally Posted By: tonedefreegan
also, "dress appropriately"? are you kidding? it's not 1952. more importantly, the richest person I know dresses like a homeless man and drives a $500 car. is his money not the same as that of the poor man in a suit?


There are certain things that just shouldn't be done, and one of them is waltzing into a Steinway or whatever dealer dressed like a hobo. Like it or not, you will be treated better, and taken more seriously if you dress well. Oh, and I'm 26... I know nothing about 1952.
A nice extreme example. Yes a hobo (smelling and all that) probably wouldn't be admitted in any store, and it IS within the rights of the store owner to NOT allow access to anyone, but we're not talking about that, are we?

I dress quite casually, wherever I go. I don't need to dress up in order to show my education, my career and my awesomeness, even more if I'm actually going to pay some 20,000$. Right?

EVEN, if the customer didn't call, the minute he said that he's willing to give in so much money the salesman can either take him for real, and give him the tour of his life (without ditching the other customers of course), or decide that he's lying in which case his loss... wink
Posted by: tonedefreegan

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 02:46 AM

A common and fatal error of the rookie or just plain bad salesperson - judging the book by its cover smile
Posted by: Hakki

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 08:01 AM

Charlie:

Are you implying that there was some kind of deliberate discrimination ?
Posted by: Thrill Science

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 10:19 AM

The OP keeps mentioning "$20,000" over and over again. This to me means that the 1) OP thinks dealers should be influenced by how much money you're going to spend and that 2) "$20,000" is an attention-getting amount for a "grand piano." Both implications are, of course, false.

I'm on the road about 1/3 of the time and drop in on a lot of piano dealers whenever I pass one. I've never had any sort of problem. I come in and say "I'm curious to see what a brand X can do," and spend some time with one. The dealers are usually more than happy to indulge me, or at least leave me alone.

And whenever I'm planning to actually buy a piano, I make arrangements to have an appointment which is usually done slightly before opening or slightly after closing.
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 12:37 PM

I have never been treated badly when visiting piano stores. In fact, it is just the opposite. I am surprised to hear of salesmen being rude to customers. It is not in their interest to drive off customers. I do think it is important for the customer to be sensitive to other browsers or buyers when trying out pianos. I always offer to stop playing when others come in to see pianos, waiting for a pause to resume.

I have called ahead for appointments on occasion, and other times I have just wandered in. Very pleasant treatment in either case. The best situation I had was when the owner of the store let me stay in the store alone to play while he locked the door, put the closed sign up, and went on an errand. He did this on several occasions and I felt really relaxed while playing his pianos. I am generally a bit shy about playing when others are around. I came very close to buying his most expensive, biggest piano because I could really take my time and play it enough to be sure, but my circumstances changed right after trying the piano, and I had to postpone buying. Eventually I bought a smaller piano in another state after moving, but I still recommend this dealer to my friends. Great experience.

I wonder if the original poster's experience was partly due to his impatience? I disagree with some posters that you can buy THE PIANO after just a few minutes of playing. It should be a careful decision. I do not disagree with those who have played a piano, left, returned another time to try it agian, and so on. This is a decision that may be for a lifetime, and the amount of money spent can be significant, so taking one's time is appropriate.

I just think one has to consider others' time, too. Perhaps the little girl was intimidated by the superior playing of the adult in the store. I know I had that experience at one nice store. A concert pianist was trying out semi-concert and concert grands. I hardly had the nerve to play my little Beethoven bagatelles. Of course, I still could listen to him and discover how some of the pianos sounded when really well-played, but he wasn't trying the ones I was interested in. Of course, I also couldn't test the actions by merely listening. Still, I enjoyed myself and played a lot after he made his selection and left.

I have never considered time spent in piano stores to be wasted time. It is always a joy to see and test pianos. (Of course, I have the piano curse--I can't walk by a piano without wanting to sit down and try it. I always have been this way.)
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 03:54 PM

"...A nice extreme example. Yes a hobo (smelling and all that) probably wouldn't be admitted in any store, and it IS within the rights of the store owner to NOT allow access to anyone, but we're not talking about that, are we?"

Well, that's a good question. I don't know if we're talking about that or not. I hope not. No, it couldn't be...

I do know--- and it doesn't necessarily apply to the OP--- that one thing piano store employees have to keep in mind, is that their inventory is very expensive and can be easily damaged by a person who is careless. They don't care much for pounders, or people with sharp belt buckles, people who want to put their oily fingers on the strings or other piano parts, or parents who let their children run wild in the store, or any kind of unsavory 'types.'

One quote from the Fine book comes to mind; it goes something like a caution to repairers to have the owners remove, themselves, any object from the top of the piano case; to beware of missing pins in piano top hinges; and to carefully observe existing damage, such as a broken music rack: "The mechanism was apparently beyond the intelligence of the owner..."

The general idea applies to some (though not all) shoppers and browsers. They can break, scratch, discolor, or throw the merchandise out of regulation, and it's as well to have an eye on who is in the store. If that's not possible, they might do well to diplomatically ask some shoppers to come at another time, when they can be served properly. And I've seen some callers that a lady might not care to be alone in the store with. (Having said that, though, I'll go ahead and say that Darlene has the tact, charm, and social poise to handle anyone--- anyone--- and, she is quite physically fit and strong; I do not worry much about a person like her. And anyway, they usually have a couple of employees in the store.)

I had a visitor to my home who walked in and slung her fat, over-the-shoulder handbag on top of the closed lid of my grand. I had it off there faster than you could say, "Purse," and she was out the door not long afterward.

I have five dogs to sic on such a person, and they know what I mean when I say, "Guard the house."

"I basically got kicked out of a piano store this weekend..."

Two stores.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 04:46 PM

Originally Posted By: Thrill Science
The OP keeps mentioning "$20,000" over and over again. This to me means that the 1) OP thinks dealers should be influenced by how much money you're going to spend and that 2) "$20,000" is an attention-getting amount for a "grand piano." Both implications are, of course, false.
Of course?

You really don't think any dealer would be more interested in selling a more expensive piano that a cheaper one? Do you realize their profit is greater on a more expensive one? This is not the same as saying that a good dealer will give good service to a customer who is planning to buy a less expensive piano.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 04:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
I disagree with some posters that you can buy THE PIANO after just a few minutes of playing. It should be a careful decision. I do not disagree with those who have played a piano, left, returned another time to try it agian, and so on. This is a decision that may be for a lifetime, and the amount of money spent can be significant, so taking one's time is appropriate.
I agree with you. While it might be possible to eliminate a piano very quickly, being sure enough to buy something that may be a once in a lifetime purchase and one of the most expensive purchases one will make can reasonably take a lot of time.
Posted by: Thrill Science

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 05:46 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

You really don't think any dealer would be more interested in selling a more expensive piano that a cheaper one?


That was my point. It seemed odd that the original poster kept repeating the "$20,000" figure which, unfortunately, is the low-end for grand pianos and not the high end. But I wanted to still be respectful of his budget, as nearly all piano dealers would be.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 06:09 PM

Originally Posted By: Thrill Science
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

You really don't think any dealer would be more interested in selling a more expensive piano that a cheaper one?


That was my point. It seemed odd that the original poster kept repeating the "$20,000" figure which, unfortunately, is the low-end for grand pianos and not the high end. But I wanted to still be respectful of his budget, as nearly all piano dealers would be.
I think it's debatable whether 20K is on the low end for average sale price for grands sold. I doubt very much it is on the low end for median grand price. I am virtually certain that if vertical pianos are included that 20K is not on the low end for a piano's sale price. In fact, I'd guess that if all acoustic pianos are considered 20K is nearer the high end.

Perhaps a dealer can give us figures about what the average price paid for a new grand or for a new piano is?
Posted by: master88er

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 08:32 PM

Disclosure:
I KNOW I am going to regret this post frown

The subject of this thread is probably the most oft repeated (read regurgitated) criticism of my shop that I hear/see. It is usually followed by much more vitriolic language than the OP posts here , but generally the complaints center around a perception that I didn't somehow live up to the expectations of the individual who graced my shop with their presence.

I have been in piano retail for over 40 years ( I know, I don't look that old - fat is a great preservative). I take great pride in the pianos on my floor, whether they are new or used and I personally service the majority of the instruments on our floor. I also personally select most of the pianos we have, not just order them over the phone, so I have a personal connection with most of these pianos. My shop does not keep lids or fallboards open on any pianos.

When a merchant opens a shop, it is often for various sub-reasons but always the hard-edge bottom line is to make a profit. For a piano dealer, the only way to make money is to sell pianos. Naturally, each one of us is entitled to have a different idea on how best to do that.

For me, besides the profit, my reward comes in working with a young person in finding a piano that inspires them to start studying or keep up their studies, or in finding that piano for a retiree that they have dreamed of having their entire life. To do that, it takes very personal time with the individual or family, experimenting with various brands and approaches to touch and tone.

Periodically, when working with a client, another will grace my store with their presence. It is my custom to offer coffee or tea to the second customer or suggest they return in 30 to 45 minutes, explaining that we work with one client at a time. Without going into detail, or repeating the names I have been called (for fear of being banned) this does irk a number of self-important individual who feel they should be entitled to walk into my shop and treat it in any fashion they wish, doing as they please. I disagree, and since I have put my money on the line by paying the rent and spending hundreds of thousands on inventory, in my realm I call the shots.

When a customer makes an appointment with me, my policy is to turn away walk-in clients while that customer is in the shop. The reality is that if someone takes the time to make an appointment to try pianos, they are serious and feel that they need quiet time with the instruments. They deserve to have that appointment and request honored. Again, many disagree vehemently with my approach. But it has sustained me for 40 years and while, admittedly, some are offended when I ask them to return later or another day, or insist on them controlling their children and letting staff open instruments, many customers appreciate the care we take with our pianos and the condition each and every instrument is in on our floor.

We have a recital hall as well, that seats 100. I love providing it to the community as a resource and love watching kids get dressed up in holiday regalia to play Fur Elise and eat sugar cookies. However, I only schedule recitals after store hours to avoid conflicts with shoppers. Once again, we have had people come in, even with the closed sign up, wanting to see pianos and are offended when we say we are closed for a private event and ask them to leave.

To me, I don't care if a client is spending $1,000 on a used Yamaha or $100,000 on a new Sauter - they are entitled to my undivided attention and undisturbed listening time to select an instrument. Personally, I love those little girls that have been taking lessons for 2 years that the OP refers to. They are open minded, not brand name prejudiced, and actually use their ears to judge pianos with. I KNOW, weird concept! grin

I have to admit that the OP's mentioning of the whopping $20k that he/she has to spend got under my skin. shocked It infers that this budget entitles him/her to some sort of extraordinary treatment on the part of the dealer in preference to the young girl looking at used uprights. Well KC, in fact, Valentina Lisitsa has played several times in my store and I can tell you for a fact that she would be appalled if my attention drifted from a young consumer on a console to wait on the guy who just pulled up in the Mercedes looking for the Steingraeber she just played on. After all, at one point, she WAS that little girl! whistle
Posted by: Jonathan Alford

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 09:06 PM

Just to piggy back off Russell's comments.

See below.

Thought i might add a little "liteness" to the thread.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAsDLGjMhFI
Posted by: piano joy

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 09:22 PM

Originally Posted By: master88er
Disclosure:
I KNOW I am going to regret this post frown

The subject of this thread is probably the most oft repeated (read regurgitated) criticism of my shop that I hear/see. It is usually followed by much more vitriolic language than the OP posts here , but generally the complaints center around a perception that I didn't somehow live up to the expectations of the individual who graced my shop with their presence.

I have been in piano retail for over 40 years ( I know, I don't look that old - fat is a great preservative). I take great pride in the pianos on my floor, whether they are new or used and I personally service the majority of the instruments on our floor. I also personally select most of the pianos we have, not just order them over the phone, so I have a personal connection with most of these pianos. My shop does not keep lids or fallboards open on any pianos.

When a merchant opens a shop, it is often for various sub-reasons but always the hard-edge bottom line is to make a profit. For a piano dealer, the only way to make money is to sell pianos. Naturally, each one of us is entitled to have a different idea on how best to do that.

For me, besides the profit, my reward comes in working with a young person in finding a piano that inspires them to start studying or keep up their studies, or in finding that piano for a retiree that they have dreamed of having their entire life. To do that, it takes very personal time with the individual or family, experimenting with various brands and approaches to touch and tone.

Periodically, when working with a client, another will grace my store with their presence. It is my custom to offer coffee or tea to the second customer or suggest they return in 30 to 45 minutes, explaining that we work with one client at a time. Without going into detail, or repeating the names I have been called (for fear of being banned) this does irk a number of self-important individual who feel they should be entitled to walk into my shop and treat it in any fashion they wish, doing as they please. I disagree, and since I have put my money on the line by paying the rent and spending hundreds of thousands on inventory, in my realm I call the shots.

When a customer makes an appointment with me, my policy is to turn away walk-in clients while that customer is in the shop. The reality is that if someone takes the time to make an appointment to try pianos, they are serious and feel that they need quiet time with the instruments. They deserve to have that appointment and request honored. Again, many disagree vehemently with my approach. But it has sustained me for 40 years and while, admittedly, some are offended when I ask them to return later or another day, or insist on them controlling their children and letting staff open instruments, many customers appreciate the care we take with our pianos and the condition each and every instrument is in on our floor.

We have a recital hall as well, that seats 100. I love providing it to the community as a resource and love watching kids get dressed up in holiday regalia to play Fur Elise and eat sugar cookies. However, I only schedule recitals after store hours to avoid conflicts with shoppers. Once again, we have had people come in, even with the closed sign up, wanting to see pianos and are offended when we say we are closed for a private event and ask them to leave.

To me, I don't care if a client is spending $1,000 on a used Yamaha or $100,000 on a new Sauter - they are entitled to my undivided attention and undisturbed listening time to select an instrument. Personally, I love those little girls that have been taking lessons for 2 years that the OP refers to. They are open minded, not brand name prejudiced, and actually use their ears to judge pianos with. I KNOW, weird concept! grin

I have to admit that the OP's mentioning of the whopping $20k that he/she has to spend got under my skin. shocked It infers that this budget entitles him/her to some sort of extraordinary treatment on the part of the dealer in preference to the young girl looking at used uprights. Well KC, in fact, Valentina Lisitsa has played several times in my store and I can tell you for a fact that she would be appalled if my attention drifted from a young consumer on a console to wait on the guy who just pulled up in the Mercedes looking for the Steingraeber she just played on. After all, at one point, she WAS that little girl! whistle


This approach seems entirely reasonable to me.
It's true that *most* inexperienced piano shoppers would not realize it best to make an appt. AND it's equally true that "fat is nature's botox".
grin
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 09:26 PM

Originally Posted By: master88er
Disclosure:
I KNOW I am going to regret this post frown

The subject of this thread is probably the most oft repeated (read regurgitated) criticism of my shop that I hear/see. It is usually followed by much more vitriolic language than the OP posts here , but generally the complaints center around a perception that I didn't somehow live up to the expectations of the individual who graced my shop with their presence.

I have been in piano retail for over 40 years ( I know, I don't look that old - fat is a great preservative). I take great pride in the pianos on my floor, whether they are new or used and I personally service the majority of the instruments on our floor. I also personally select most of the pianos we have, not just order them over the phone, so I have a personal connection with most of these pianos. My shop does not keep lids or fallboards open on any pianos.

When a merchant opens a shop, it is often for various sub-reasons but always the hard-edge bottom line is to make a profit. For a piano dealer, the only way to make money is to sell pianos. Naturally, each one of us is entitled to have a different idea on how best to do that.

For me, besides the profit, my reward comes in working with a young person in finding a piano that inspires them to start studying or keep up their studies, or in finding that piano for a retiree that they have dreamed of having their entire life. To do that, it takes very personal time with the individual or family, experimenting with various brands and approaches to touch and tone.

Periodically, when working with a client, another will grace my store with their presence. It is my custom to offer coffee or tea to the second customer or suggest they return in 30 to 45 minutes, explaining that we work with one client at a time. Without going into detail, or repeating the names I have been called (for fear of being banned) this does irk a number of self-important individual who feel they should be entitled to walk into my shop and treat it in any fashion they wish, doing as they please. I disagree, and since I have put my money on the line by paying the rent and spending hundreds of thousands on inventory, in my realm I call the shots.

When a customer makes an appointment with me, my policy is to turn away walk-in clients while that customer is in the shop. The reality is that if someone takes the time to make an appointment to try pianos, they are serious and feel that they need quiet time with the instruments. They deserve to have that appointment and request honored. Again, many disagree vehemently with my approach. But it has sustained me for 40 years and while, admittedly, some are offended when I ask them to return later or another day, or insist on them controlling their children and letting staff open instruments, many customers appreciate the care we take with our pianos and the condition each and every instrument is in on our floor.

We have a recital hall as well, that seats 100. I love providing it to the community as a resource and love watching kids get dressed up in holiday regalia to play Fur Elise and eat sugar cookies. However, I only schedule recitals after store hours to avoid conflicts with shoppers. Once again, we have had people come in, even with the closed sign up, wanting to see pianos and are offended when we say we are closed for a private event and ask them to leave.

To me, I don't care if a client is spending $1,000 on a used Yamaha or $100,000 on a new Sauter - they are entitled to my undivided attention and undisturbed listening time to select an instrument. Personally, I love those little girls that have been taking lessons for 2 years that the OP refers to. They are open minded, not brand name prejudiced, and actually use their ears to judge pianos with. I KNOW, weird concept! grin

I have to admit that the OP's mentioning of the whopping $20k that he/she has to spend got under my skin. shocked It infers that this budget entitles him/her to some sort of extraordinary treatment on the part of the dealer in preference to the young girl looking at used uprights. Well KC, in fact, Valentina Lisitsa has played several times in my store and I can tell you for a fact that she would be appalled if my attention drifted from a young consumer on a console to wait on the guy who just pulled up in the Mercedes looking for the Steingraeber she just played on. After all, at one point, she WAS that little girl! whistle
I don't see anything wrong with your approach.

How long do you allow for those with appointments? If I came to your shop I wouldn't mind waiting around 30-45 minutes during which time I'd probably just look at the pianos which I find very enjoyable or look at some piano brochures. But if you allow more time than that for those with appointments, I'd hope you say something about this on your website so I knew your policy ahead of time.

I'd agree with you that it's impossible(or at least for me it is) to listen to a piano while someone else is playing especially if one is even close to buying that piano. I could never understand how people can start playing a piano in the same room when someone else is already playing. Maybe just playing a few notes softly at most. When I go to a piano store I more or less understand that I may have to wait although even in NYC I haven't had to do this very often. I'm often the only person in the store although I tend to go on late Sunday mornings which may be a relatively quiet time for most stores.

As far as I know the stores on Piano Row only hold concerts or other events after normal business hours(which seems to be the way you this also)and this seems the most reasonable thing to do. Otherwise, unless posted on the dealer's website that the store is closed for business I think a customer might feel they made the trip for no reason.

I certainly value input from a honest dealers or salespeople and often ask a million questions but I am also the type who also just likes to try out pianos by myself. How do you feel about that kind of customer?
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 10:03 PM

What master88 has pointed out has to do with simple courtesy and tact expected from the buying public. No more - no less.
Unfortunately, such is not often afforded these days to those who are sincere in doing a good job for their customers.
To explain what should never "need" explaining, is where it's often at today. It can be highly uncomfortable to sort things out - for all parties. We happen to have a Karate school besides the store which has occasionally required all possible human [and'unhuman'..] diplomacy to keep the wolves out. People such as waiting parents wandering around amusing themselves. Of course without as much as saying Hi or introducing themselves. And then there are always the washrooms or store parking lots. Piano stores after all, offer more than just pianos....
Luckily some folks haven't discovered yet how to accept free coffee when waiting - and then simply walk out...
Free coffe anybody by the way?
Norbert ha
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/08/12 11:10 PM

I believe Master88er has a very positive approach. I would not be offended if I just wandered in and was told politely that someone had made an appointment and could I please come back later. Seems reasonable.
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/09/12 12:18 AM

Quote:
When a customer makes an appointment with me, my policy is to turn away walk-in clients while that customer is in the shop.


Wow.

I've always been made to feel welcome at every store I've entered. What would be the incentive to return to one that had told me to get lost, even when asked as nicely as master88er must do?

One place, where I rented a studio once a week for practice, the manager insisted I try pianos, even the Seilers and Bechsteins that he knew I could not afford. He wouldn't let me leave. The shop was full of Yamahas, Kawais, W Hoffmanns, Bechsteins and Seilers. It was a playground I tell ya.

I purchased my first piano from him. Got a good deal, too.

master88er knows what works best for him, so more power to him and his method.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/09/12 12:32 AM

Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
I believe Master88er has a very positive approach. I would not be offended if I just wandered in and was told politely that someone had made an appointment and could I please come back later. Seems reasonable.
Yup, I will agree that this seems reasonable. Same with lessons or composing or anything: You can't satisfy two (or more) customers at the same time...
Posted by: tonedefreegan

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/09/12 03:10 PM

Originally Posted By: Plowboy
Quote:
When a customer makes an appointment with me, my policy is to turn away walk-in clients while that customer is in the shop.


Wow.

I've always been made to feel welcome at every store I've entered. What would be the incentive to return to one that had told me to get lost, even when asked as nicely as master88er must do?



seconded, but double wow. I'd be royally p'ssd off if I'd made the effort to drive to store during opening hours - advertised without the crucial information "by appointment only", then told to take a hike. there is no way I'd ever go back.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/09/12 03:31 PM

"...Periodically, when working with a client, another will grace my store with their presence. It is my custom to offer coffee or tea to the second customer or suggest they return in 30 to 45 minutes, explaining that we work with one client at a time... this does irk a number of self-important individual who feel they should be entitled to walk into my shop and treat it in any fashion they wish, doing as they please. I disagree... When a customer makes an appointment with me, my policy is to turn away walk-in clients while that customer is in the shop..."

I have only been to Russell's premises once, at an event, not as a shopper. I was snapped at on the way in the door, but not turned away; perhaps he is not as smooth as he believes. Still, I think he is realistic and reasonable in knowing how much he can handle properly. The best of us can only juggle so many balls in the air.

If a person shopping for such an important purchase cannot hold his horses for a few minutes so that he can be served with the attention the occasion deserves, I have to wonder about the outcome for him.

The vexation a busy shopper might have, after slugging it out with the Berkeley traffic (it is dreadful on a good day), only to be dismissed at the door--- perhaps brusquely--- is also understandable. I would not like to meet this person on the freeway, as he drives to a competitor's shop.
Posted by: adamp88

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/09/12 03:39 PM

Originally Posted By: Plowboy
Quote:
When a customer makes an appointment with me, my policy is to turn away walk-in clients while that customer is in the shop.


Wow.

I've always been made to feel welcome at every store I've entered. What would be the incentive to return to one that had told me to get lost, even when asked as nicely as master88er must do?


I was once a walk-in to Mr. Kassman's store, and faced that exact circumstance - another customer had made an appointment when I'd decided to drop by on a whim, so Mr. Kassman politely explained the situation and asked me if I would be willing to come back in a half hour. I'll admit that I was not expecting that response when I walked in, but didn't find it particularly off-putting, just a little unusual.

I'll try not to turn this into a sales ad for Mr. Kassman, but I will say that when I did come back after a half hour, Mr. Kassman provided excellent, flexible and attentive service and made me feel quite welcome (full disclosure - I did end up buying a piano there). I can certainly understand others being a little taken aback being asked to come back later just after entering a store, and that may well lose some customers, but, while it is perhaps an atypical request, I don't find it to be unreasonably so considering the focus it allows him to give each customer.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/09/12 03:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
I have only been to Russell's premises once, at an event, not as a shopper. I was snapped at on the way in the door, but not turned away; perhaps he is not as smooth as he believes. Still, I think he is realistic and reasonable in knowing how much he can handle properly. The best of us can only juggle so many balls in the air.

If a person shopping for such an important purchase cannot hold his horses for a few minutes so that he can be served with the attention the occasion deserves, I have to wonder about the outcome for him.
Yes, but the thing is that as it appears the OP was trying to play the piano, rather than get the full attention of the salesperson, or at least this is the impression I got. He wasn't bothering the salesman with questions and the such, just trying to play the instrument.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/09/12 04:12 PM

I'm assuming that Russell gives the option to come back in a half hour or to wait in the store (but not trying out pianos until it is their turn). If I wasn't given the option of waiting in the store, I wouldn't be so happy. What if I had no particular place to go?
Posted by: ando

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/09/12 04:24 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I'm assuming that Russell gives the option to come back in a half hour or to wait in the store (but not trying out pianos until it is their turn). If I wasn't given the option of waiting in the store, I wouldn't be so happy. What if I had no particular place to go?


Yes, being asked to physically leave the store would be quite strange and unacceptable to me. I'd be happy to stroll around quietly and look at things and read through brochures. I don't think there's an expectation of privacy for the other "appointed" customer. We aren't talking about missile launch codes.
Posted by: master88er

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/09/12 04:25 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I'm assuming that Russell gives the option to come back in a half hour or to wait in the store (but not trying out pianos until it is their turn). If I wasn't given the option of waiting in the store, I wouldn't be so happy. What if I had no particular place to go?


Originally Posted By: master88er


Periodically, when working with a client, another will grace my store with their presence. It is my custom to offer coffee or tea to the second customer or suggest they return in 30 to 45 minutes, explaining that we work with one client at a time.


and yes, customers who make appointments often do have an expectation of privacy and we honor that by asking walk-ins to make themselves comfortable in our waiting area. Most people do not like others lurking over them as they play.
Posted by: tonedefreegan

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/09/12 05:35 PM

The coffee and a relaxing wander around store (but not playing) would work for me. being asked to leave would not. in the current climate there are 10 piano stores who welcome all comers for every one who doesnt. for good or ill, that's the harsh fact. and far from it being a case off flippancy in the face of such an important purchase, if I've made the decision to spend $20,000 then I will be far more demanding in my expectations of good customer service. The perversity of human nature means that we care far less if asked to leave a store in which we'd only planned to spend $20. Factoring in the perversity of human nature is wise, if selling is your game smile
Posted by: ando

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/09/12 06:24 PM

Originally Posted By: master88er


and yes, customers who make appointments often do have an expectation of privacy and we honor that by asking walk-ins to make themselves comfortable in our waiting area. Most people do not like others lurking over them as they play.


Well, I would most respectfully suggest that they need to get over themselves. And people don't "lurk over them as they play". Browsing in the background is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. It's what happens in almost any shopping situation when there are multiple customers and limited salespeople.
Posted by: RickG1

Re: Are piano stores trying to go out of business? - 12/09/12 07:15 PM

I guess I have been lucky in the stores that we have dropped in. Rich, Alex and others were not busy and let us play as much as possible. Of course, we were not buying and would have gladly strolled around in silence if there was a serious customer.