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Thread: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    As I'm looking for my first upgrade, I'm wondering if music (both online and brick and mortar) stores are firm on their instrument pricing. Does it depend on if you're looking at new vs. used?

    I'm not looking to take advantage of anyone, just so you know.

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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    I think it depends on the store and the brand. There are no hard and fast rules. I will say, with inventories being quite low at most stores, and there being more buyers than ever pricing has risen on used instruments as well as new ones.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    I think it depends on the store and the brand. There are no hard and fast rules. I will say, with inventories being quite low at most stores, and there being more buyers than ever pricing has risen on used instruments as well as new ones.
    Interesting you should say this. I've been calling local stores to inquire about their inventory. Most had no mandolins, a few had 1 or 2 entry level instruments. Then one seemingly knowledgeable guy told me, although his store normally carries quite a few mandolins, with covid, production has been down and new instruments hard to come by. Maybe this is the time to sell, but not to buy.

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    Frodo Lives! Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    I think there used to be more room to haggle and deal on instruments than there is now. The internet has changed everything since everyone can get on and see what said item is selling for elsewhere. This keeps a lot of prices at rock bottom on the tag.

    I was in a Guitar Center last year and was smitten by a certain acoustic guitar, which hardly ever happens to me. I haven't bought an acoustic guitar in almost 20 years but that day I found myself carrying one up to the counter. I was paying cash and offered the salesman a nice pile of 100-dollar bills. He refused to come down $17. It bothered me so much that I walked out sans guitar. Of course, he sold it to someone else and got his $17, so no loss on his part. I don't think this would have happened several years ago. In hindsight, I'm glad because I didn't need another guitar.
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Guitar Center is not your normal music store. They are a highly leveraged corporate holding. The staff has no wiggle room. I would rather buy from a brick and mortar, mom and pop any day. Most would accommodate a $17 differential if it meant making the sale. I have even dealt with stores states away on the phone and gotten some bit of break on the price. Guitar Center is my stop of last resort.

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    Frodo Lives! Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Buckingham View Post
    Guitar Center is not your normal music store. They are a highly leveraged corporate holding. The staff has no wiggle room.
    You are right, but back in the day they did. It all changed somewhere along the way. I even remember once going in and trying to take advantage (in the legit way) of their "lowest price guaranteed" policy. This was back in my electric guitar days (daze?) and I was buying some kind of pedal. I showed the GC store manager the competitor's (lower) price and was told by him: "That isn't possible." I just sort of laughed at his attitude and bought the pedal from the competitor.
    "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility." -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    I think some individual stores may have a little bit of wiggle room but, every store has got to turn some profit to keep the doors open. Guitar Center has a much broader dealership network and can afford to be rigid for the $17.00, it’s a difficult pill to swallow but, the poor schlub at the counter pretty much has no control.
    Working in the retail sector for as many years as I have, I have a little different perspective, why is the little guy not allowed to make a living profit for the small business where they work? Most of these people who were almost demanding a deal were people with the finance wherewithal to pay the (fair) price being asked.
    It’s the “What’s your BEST price on this?” Attitude that used to really grate, I used to say “BEST” price would be a hundred dollars more than is on the tag, I want to keep this place going.

    That said, places like some of the sponsors here might have some room and no, it does not hurt to ask. Carters, Elderly, etc. may have a little room. Not in the management at any of the above places so, that is pure conjecture.
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    I think it depends on the store and the brand. There are no hard and fast rules. I will say, with inventories being quite low at most stores, and there being more buyers than ever pricing has risen on used instruments as well as new ones.
    Might depend on the salesperson, too - I've bought from a large, local store frequently, and been given a discount twice without asking, and once was told I should make an offer, since he could do better than the price on the tag.

    D.H.

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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hicks View Post
    Might depend on the salesperson, too - I've bought from a large, local store frequently, and been given a discount twice without asking, and once was told I should make an offer, since he could do better than the price on the tag.

    D.H.
    I think it is all going to depend on what you are buying, if you are a regular customer, etc.

    But to answer your question, Sherry. It's not the time to sell anything you don't have to sell. Unless you are trading into something else. It's going to be like this for a while longer too. I'd say at least another 18 months.

    Instead of ten to twelve people in most workshops there are at least 40 in the ones that I am attending, and in others there are at least 80. I am waiting to see what the March Mandolin Festival and Fiddle Hell workshops headcount numbers are going to be. I am thinking that there will be far more than there would be in person.
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    I will say, with inventories being quite low at most stores, and there being more buyers than ever pricing has risen on used instruments as well as new ones.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    It's not the time to sell anything you don't have to sell. Unless you are trading into something else. It's going to be like this for a while longer too. I'd say at least another 18 months.
    These two statements donít seem to reconcile. On the one hand, you are saying that supply is low, demand is high, and prices are rising. On the other, you are suggesting that itís not a good time to sell. Can you clarify?
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    not to compete with the classifieds here, on Reverb most music stores will take offers on used equipment, not so often on brand new stuff.
    You generally will not find higher end mandolins anywhere but stores that specialize in them, same really goes for most instruments, student and entry level type instruments are usually plentiful and the price doesn't vary that much. The high end stuff ( more then 5k?) doesn't really wiggle that much either, IMHO it seems the over 1200 and under 4500 has the most variety and the buyer does need to beware, then again you can get some very wonderful instruments in that range.
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    I don't like haggling, as I come from a culture that didn't haggle much. However, there were a few exceptions in my background, e.g.,"horse trading", buying cars, houses, and often used goods, especially when they're pricey. Observing the action of friends from different cultural backgrounds, I saw that there was money to be saved in the marketplace. I picked up the question, which I think was mentioned in a recent thread, "What's the best price you'll take?" It's not aggressive, and allows everyone to continue without becoming confrontational. I've had a fifth of the price of a used mandolin (in a privately run shop) and of a car lowered by asking that question. I also told the music shop to throw in their cheapest tuner and a few picks, which they did. In the case of the car, I would have paid the full price if it came to it but I wanted to know what price the seller really expected. On the other hand, I've also been told by sellers, "Our prices are fixed; we offer things at reasonable prices," which I accept. There's a lot of room for negotiation out in the world. I've often had shopkeepers spontaneously offer me a discount when I start walking away from an item (especially with second-hand goods). In some cases (e.g., used cars) you can almost assume people are asking a little extra so that you can "argue them down" to what they want. If I were selling a used item, I'd advertise the price as "fixed" if I didn't want lower offers. I generally don't haggle if I feel that the prices are fair and affordable to me. However, that small question has saved me a great deal of money over the years, especially when the monetary value of an item isn't entirely clear.
    Last edited by Ranald; Feb-28-2021 at 1:00pm.
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    These two statements don’t seem to reconcile. On the one hand, you are saying that supply is low, demand is high, and prices are rising. On the other, you are suggesting that it’s not a good time to sell. Can you clarify?

    As a personal seller, it is not a good time to sell an instrument if you don't have to. You will never be able to buy anything back at a decent price. That is what I meant. For stores its a great time to sell, if they can get the inventory.

    As for the stores, personally, unless they really want to make a deal on something, they should stick to the prices they've established. If they can't replace inventory readily, it's not good business to discount.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    I don't like haggling, as I come from a culture that didn't haggle much. However, there were a few exceptions in my background, e.g.,"horse trading", buying cars, houses, and often used goods, especially when they're pricey. Observing the action of friends from different cultural backgrounds, I saw that there was money to be saved in the marketplace. I picked up the question, which I think was mentioned in a recent thread, "What's the best price you'll take?" It's not aggressive, and allows everyone to continue without becoming confrontational. I've had a fifth of the price of a used mandolin (in a privately run shop) and of a car lowered by asking that question. I also told the music shop to throw in their cheapest tuner and a few picks, which they did. In the case of the car, I would have paid the full price if it came to it but I wanted to know what price the seller really expected. On the other hand, I've also been told by sellers, "Our prices are fixed; we offer things at reasonable prices," which I accept. There's a lot of room for negotiation out in the world. I've often had shopkeepers spontaneously offer me a discount when I start walking away from an item (especially with second-hand goods. In some cases (e.g., used cars) you can almost assume people are asking a little extra so that you can "argue them down" to what they want. If I were selling a used item, I'd advertise the price as "fixed" if I didn't want lower offers. I generally don't haggle if I feel that the prices are fair and affordable to me. However, that small question has saved me a great deal of money over the years, especially when the monetary value of an item isn't entirely clear.
    Buying things in Latin America has sometimes been a challenge. In big stores the prices are set, but almost anywhere else they're negotiable, and I've never been good at that.

    D.H.

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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    You will probably have better luck working with the store directly, rather than working through a site that hosts their ad and allows you to make an offer. The same goes for working with the store on a payment option with lower transaction fees. Good luck!

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Rumor was in North Africa you could even haggle the price of a postage stamp..
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Here is UK there are some big music discounters with storefronts (Andertons, GAK, Guitar Guitar, and others), and of course Musikhaus Thomann selling into UK from Germany. They usually do the best prices available, but a lot of smaller shops will now 'price match' if you tell them the discount price and say "But I'd rather buy it from you" (service is often better from a smaller or specialist store). However the discounters will often throw in some stuff - leads, covers, gig bags, etc. if you ask. It does seem like a lot of guitarists decided the last year was a good time to buy a mandolin, some stores still have low stock.

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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    1. You're "upgrading," which might imply you're trading in your present instrument. Somewhat similar to auto dealerships, what allowance you get on your trade-in is negotiable, within limits. Have some idea of what your trade-in's worth on the market -- what you paid for it, what it listed for, what its condition is -- then figure you could get 50-60% of that as a trade-in allowance.

    2. When I worked (many years ago) selling instruments, the rule of thumb was that the dealer paid about 50% of the list price as wholesale. So, if you're looking at a mandolin with a list price of $1,000, the dealer probably paid somewhere around $500 for it. They could sell it to you for $650 and still make $150 on the deal, a 30% profit. Which, of course, covers their overhead, staff salaries, advertising, and whatever's left over as profit for them to live on.

    3. Used instruments are definitely more "flexibly" priced. The dealer won't tell you how much they have into the instrument -- how much they paid, or allowed in a previous trade-in -- but, if it's just a used recently-made mandolin, figure you shouldn't pay much more than 65-70% of the price the dealer's selling a new one for. Now, if it's "vintage" (whatever that means), it becomes a question of price on the vintage market, and factors such as age, scarcity, maker's reputation, provenance of the individual instrument may come into play. There aren't good rules of thumb for vintage-market transactions.

    I assume you just want a better instrument to play, not a "vintage" one to collect or invest in. I'd definitely consider a used instrument -- you can almost always get more for your money buying used, and "initial purchaser" maker's warranties aren't often invoked, in reality (though they sometimes do come in handy). It never hurts to ask about how firm a marked price is, especially if you have something to trade in. And, if you develop a good ongoing relationship with a local dealer, you sometimes get "good customer" consideration -- they know you'll be back, buy strings and accessories there, etc. Most dealers with whom I've done business don't "haggle" in the sense of bazaar or flea market selling, but they usually will respond to a reasonable counter-offer -- if only to say, "Nah, I gotta get at least $X for it."
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    .. Or Consign the trade in , the commission is typically 20% .. so you get the 80.. when it sells ..
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Only time Ive got a better deal. Was from a dealer that sold by commission. And paying on the spot if it was accepted. But a big box store that does not have a commission base , stays pretty much firm on there price. From my experience.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Sherry: If you are seriously interested in a particular instrument you can always ask politely if that price is firm or not. Or make an offer. I know in some stores there are instruments on consignment and the store folks may need to contact the owners. So the bottom-line answer is to ask. They can always say no.

    Generally for new instruments the prices are the same but there might be more margin for used ones.
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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    .. Or Consign the trade in , the commission is typically 20% .. so you get the 80.. when it sells ..
    I plan to keep my Alvarez. Can I even be considered a serious Cafe member with only one mandolin?

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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    I plan to keep my Alvarez. Can I even be considered a serious Cafe member with only one mandolin?
    Maybe you're the only serious Cafe member!
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    I plan to keep my Alvarez. Can I even be considered a serious Cafe member with only one mandolin?


    We don't count the accumulation, we weigh the commitment.
    Last edited by JeffD; Feb-28-2021 at 5:54pm.
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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are Music Store Prices Firm?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post


    We don't account the accumulation, we weigh the commitment.
    My husband has threatened to have me committed, so I must fit right in.

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