Did the Music Die or Just Take a Beat as Sam Ash Closes Stores Street Fight

Did the Music Die or Just Take a Beat as Sam Ash Closes Stores?

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Music stores used to be wildly popular.

Although many still exist and vinyl records have made a comeback, the MULO (multi-location) music store category is struggling.

Sam Ash recently announced that it’s closing 18 of its 45 stores throughout the U.S.

The first music store opened in the U.S. in 1759.

Sam Ash sells instruments and equipment and is more than 100 years old. The brand launched in Brooklyn in 1924 and is still family-run. “Come in and play” has been its tagline and store-goers were encouraged to try out a variety of ways to make music.

But, as with many retailers, the move to online options and rent costs has made making (and selling) music a different tune. Closing stores may provide the savings the brand needs to keep the beat going.

Among the stores Sam Ash is closing are its iconic (but expensive to run) Manhattan and Hollywood locations.

As we’ve noted in other Street Fight articles, store closings are not necessarily a sign that a company is going out of business. In fact, Sam Ash has been known over the years for its innovation, stocking electric guitars and amplifiers as the music world moved from acoustic and classics to rock and roll.

Today’s consumers may visit a brick-and-mortar retailer to try out an item and then buy it online, so smart retailers are capturing that business by making that process simple and competitive, offering unique benefits to combat the “Amazon effect.”

While the media loves to add to the drama surrounding store closings, true music fans may remain loyal to the brand. Among the keys to legacy brand survival are:

  • Continuous reinvention, which seems to be in the Sam Ash history.
  • Smart analysis of retail and neighborhood trends, freeing-up capital to invest in high-performing locations and online sales.
  • Unique brand experiences and consumer offers that are difficult for mass retailers to replicate.

We’ll be watching (and listening) to see whether Sam Ash’s store closings will set a new tempo for the brand — even with a smaller footprint — or should we say fewer band members?

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in Inc.com, the New York Times and Forbes.