I get e-mails from all corners of the industry, from both the retail and the supply side. Sometimes, the message is “thank you” or “you took the words out of my mouth.” Sometimes, I am accused of a Pollyanna-esque, ivory tower viewpoint. (Pollyanna? Perhaps. Ivory tower? Make that makeshift tree house.)
I also get people (mostly retailers) who want me to “write a wrong,” so to speak. Incensed over a situation that affects their store negatively, they ask me to “look into” the issue and write about it. I often do, although, sometimes, the results aren’t exactly in line with their concerns.
I’ve gotten e-mails recently lodging complaints against accessory manufacturers. Many dealers seem to feel “sold out” to the big online players, claiming that the level of discounting and unchecked MAP violations kills their accessory business—which is what many of us rely on to keep the retail heart beating, since the margin has been sucked out of so much already. Some are ticked enough that they’re discontinuing the offending company’s products and actively pushing competing lines that may bring more margin into the store. Certainly, they are entitled, and it may work for them.
However, I see this argument from both sides and, to me, it’s a “lose/lose” situation for the industry. The one benefit is that, in the short term, manufacturers will benefit from brisk sales, because the online guys move a lot of product. In the short term, retailers will benefit if they find a line they can sell with better margins.
The key here, though, is “short term.” Our industry is in constant transition, and many of the forces driving it are outside our industry and out of our control, rooted in new technologies, societal change and paradigm shifts in consumer behavior. Like any ecosystem, seemingly small changes have unexpected ripple effects. Expect changes—and see if you can find a benefit somewhere. The negatives will find you.
For example, let’s say a number of dealers push a new line of reeds, guitar strings or drumsticks to consumers and help that brand gain market share. It’s what dealers must do if they expect to replace