At the site of a former Frank’s Nursery and Crafts, not far off the main road at the center of Waldorf MD, sits Hot Licks Guitar Shop. The 9,000-square-foot, full-line MI shop has been a mainstay of the community for 28 years, serving musicians in the area for generations.
“Just recently, we had a customer come in who was the third generation from the same family to shop with us,” Paul McDermott, the Owner, said, proud of a fact he likely never dreamed of back in the 1980s when, as a struggling musician recently fired from his job at a local mom-and-pop shop, he decided to go into business for himself.
Hot Licks Guitar Shop
3250 Old Washington Rd.
Waldorf, MD 20602
Mon-Fri 11am to 7pm
Sat 10am to 5pm
Paul McDermott, Owner
“I know it’s cliché to get fired and then decide to open a store for myself, but that is what happened,” said McDermott, who plays bass. “I literally wrote down my marketing plan on a napkin.”
Hot Licks Guitar Shop first opened in what McDermott called “a small location on the outskirts of town,” staffed by McDermott, a friend named Paul and McDermott’s wife, who would come in to help after work. From the start, the store offered a full line of MI products, as well as lessons, though McDermott found it somewhat difficult to secure top brands as a fledgling store.
“At the beginning, it was hard to get the major lines, so I just kept calling them until I got them,” said McDermott. All that hard work paid off and, today, Hot Licks Guitars Shop usually has about 300 to 400 guitars and basses on the wall. “I really make sure to buy pieces that fit our players, anywhere from the $65 starter guitars all the way up to PRS and Gibson models,” said McDermott, who attends the NAMM show every year in search of the latest gear, and who has been the recipient of NAMM’s Top 100 Dealer Award for the past three years. “I’m lucky that, as a player, what I like is also what the general public likes,” he said, adding with a laugh, “I didn’t know that until I started my own business.”
One example of that is Taylor Guitars, to which McDermott was drawn pretty much from the beginning. “In 1985, Taylor Guitars was about a year old and, right away, I knew I wanted to get involved with them,” he said. “Obviously, I got lucky with that one.”
Not including his wife and himself, McDermott employs eight salespeople. Although they do work for a commission, McDermott feels that he avoids the trap of commission-based employees pressuring customers by only hiring musicians who truly love their craft.