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Shopping in a "Real" Drum Shop

red66charger

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I live in a fairly sizeable market (Tampa Bay...which includes Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Sarasota) but there are no large drum shops in our area. We have a Guitar Center and a Sam Ash Music Store but the drum departments are not stocked very well especially for Paiste cymbals and boutique brands. Really everything.

I am on a long weekend vacation in Memphis and have been super excited about visiting Memphis Drum Shop. I'd been planning on trying out cymbals and looking at the Yamaha Crosstown and new Rogers hardware. I also really wanted to try some new bass drum pedals. As well as look at their amazing vintage drum collection.

I arrived to the shop at 10:45 this morning and made an initial introduction with an associate and someone I was told later is the owner. I told them I was getting bored with my cymbals and and was curious to hear Instanbuls in person, as no store near me stocks them. I've been a Paiste player for decades and the owner was probably wise to tell me if I like and play Paiste, Istanbuls are probably not for me (I play rock). So I started inquiring about pedals. They had a few set up on a rubber board but never offered to let me try one on a bass drum. They did let me try a snare. After about an hour in the store I pretty much got run out of there. I was flabbergasted! Is this the way it is in drum shops these days?!?! I wanted to stay longer. I didn't even get to look at swag.

I really liked a used Oriollo snare I tried out but they were asking $450 (I think) for the drum. I don't know about the rest of you, but I need to think about a $450 purchase. I just don't jump on it. So I walked away and started tapping on some cymbals in the vault. I fell in love with a 17" Paiste dark energy crash as well as a 16" Signature. Again, +$400 and +$300 prices. They also had a used Sonor Perfect Balance Standard pedal sitting out attached to a box that I checked out. The Standard Perfect Balance pedal has been on my list of pedals to try out.

It takes time to look at snares, cymbals and pedals...and gawk at the vintage museum pieces they have. I'm so disappointed that what started as such an exciting and fun day turned so quickly. I wasn't done looking and had more questions. I certainly feel like I could have been tempted to buy a bigger ticket item. We flew to Memphis so transporting stuff back was a consideration, especially the snares. I asked about cases and was given a full retail quote. I asked about shipping and it got weird, the associate sait "well I'm sure you can bring a cymbal on the plane". C'mon. No used snare case (or new for that matter) you could make a deal on? Or offer shipping? Am I that out of touch with the way the world works now? The associate eventually said to me, "what's it going to be? Do you want that snare?". I told him I wanted the used Sonor pedal, which was $150. And then I was shown the door. Almost the entire time the guy was shadowing me. He left briefly a few times, but he was "on" me. In all fairness, he did let me spend time putting a stick on cymbals.

In the end I was at least able to see the Crosstown hardware in person and feel just how light it is. The new Rogers hardware looks awesome but is still heavier than the Crosstown stuff. I know I also like the sound of an Oriollo snare. Unfortunately the clerk didn't know the shell material, it was very light so I assume aluminum (it had a crazy color pattern). And I got a pedal I was curious about.

I had a great first few minutes talking music and drum styles with the associate, but something changed quickly. Did the owner tell him to get rid of me? Is this the way it is in all the well-known major drum shops? Sorry for the long rant, I'm just so disappointed.
 
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DrummBumm89

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Not defending MDS here, but looking at it from a different perspective.
High-End Drum store. Theft is a real threat. Eyes should be on you in a store that sells $10k drum sets and accessories.
Person no one has seen/met before. Taking someone's word they are in good graces goes about as far as I can throw them.
Sporadic browsing (I want pedals, snare drum, hardware, cymbals).
MDS has regulars. Why would they offer a special deal on a new buyer?

This does not defend any store, but I can see and have seen people get treated similarly.
This could seem similar to someone who spends 6 hours in a Guitar Center and plays all the kits and leaves to grab a latte at the end. Most high end stores I know don't let people just play away on floor kits, it's a different vibe and deters other customers (who wants to go in to buy a snare drum when someone is bashing IG chops on an Ludwig Accent to try to get a gig?).
A cymbal, snare or pedal is something that would save multi day shipping and cost as they aren't completely unreasonable to be flown with. I would certainly mention it first before jumping to shipping you gear. We absolutely shipped gear to out of Towner's but if we can save them $50 in shipping I'd love to have them do so.


A better salesman, communication or understanding of the situation could have handled it better. Not everyone is going to do that. We never pushed anyone out but it is hard to gauge the viability of someone spending money when there's gear ADD every few minutes.
Shops are still in the business of making money at the end of the day.
 

Trilock_Gurtu

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I'm not sure what you're looking for, validation that you weren't valued enough? I mean, you gave your side of the story. How can any logical person provide impartial feedback without having the other parties insight. Maybe you smelt bad, maybe you were rude, maybe you gave off tire-kicker vibes, maybe it was just an off day at the shop (It's a drum shop, not Disneyland), on and on it goes. Also, it was one visit. If you went six times and had the same results, maybe it would better support your comments. Maybe your expectations were a little to high.
 

red66charger

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Not defending MDS here, but looking at it from a different perspective.
High-End Drum store. Theft is a real threat. Eyes should be on you in a store that sells $10k drum sets and accessories.
Person no one has seen/met before. Taking someone's word they are in good graces goes about as far as I can throw them.
Sporadic browsing (I want pedals, snare drum, hardware, cymbals).
MDS has regulars. Why would they offer a special deal on a new buyer?

This does not defend any store, but I can see and have seen people get treated similarly.
This could seem similar to someone who spends 6 hours in a Guitar Center and plays all the kits and leaves to grab a latte at the end. Most high end stores I know don't let people just play away on floor kits, it's a different vibe and deters other customers (who wants to go in to buy a snare drum when someone is bashing IG chops on an Ludwig Accent to try to get a gig?).
A cymbal, snare or pedal is something that would save multi day shipping and cost as they aren't completely unreasonable to be flown with. I would certainly mention it first before jumping to shipping you gear. We absolutely shipped gear to out of Towner's but if we can save them $50 in shipping I'd love to have them do so.


A better salesman, communication or understanding of the situation could have handled it better. Not everyone is going to do that. We never pushed anyone out but it is hard to gauge the viability of someone spending money when there's gear ADD every few minutes.
Shops are still in the business of making money at the end of the day.

Good points all around. And to be honest, I wasn't that put off by him shadowing me. I get that they don't know me. But right off the bat I told him what I was interested in. Yes, there were multiple items. I don't see that as an issue and/or justification to run me out. There was hardly anyone else in the store. And I've NEVER been one to play drums on a shop floor. I've seen their videos online and know they have kits or a kit setup somewhere. They also had a bass drum and hihat set up in the snares room that I would have loved to try bass drum pedals on. I have been using a DW5000 since the 80s and thought the 9000 felt nice. Would loved to have tried it sitting down on a drum.

Based on who I know I am and how I treat people, it should have been obvious I was no threat and was a credible customer. I admitted that I was overwhelmed by everything on display. I also told him how much I had been looking forward to the visit.

I get your points and if that's how a new person walking into a drum shop is treated these days, I guess I'll stick to online buying and or just not buy since I can't try it out.
 
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red66charger

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I'm not sure what you're looking for, validation that you weren't valued enough? I mean, you gave your side of the story. How can any logical person provide impartial feedback without having the other parties insight. Maybe you smelt bad, maybe you were rude, maybe you gave off tire-kicker vibes, maybe it was just an off day at the shop (It's a drum shop, not Disneyland), on and on it goes. Also, it was one visit. If you went six times and had the same results, maybe it would better support your comments. Maybe your expectations were a little to high.

I'll totally agree with your last point. But what's wrong with tire kicking? Isn't that part of shopping? It appears you're suggesting I may have brought it on myself. Absolutely not. I was polite right up until being walked out of the store. I guess the only thing I'm looking for is to know if this is how it is in "Pro" drums shops? When I lived in Northeast Ohio there was a family owned drum shop in Canton called Zampino's. Great customer service. I guess I imagined it would be like that.
 

davezedlee

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if you've ever done any retail sales work, it takes about one minute to size up a customer to find out if they're going to buy anything

they got you right, because you bought nothing after being there an hour...

what were they supposed to do?
 

red66charger

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if you've ever done any retail sales work, it takes about one minute to size up a customer to find out if they're going to buy anything

they got you right, because you bought nothing after being there an hour...

what were they supposed to do?

I bought a bass drum pedal for $150 and was interested in other items. I wasn't given a chance to even think.

But obviously I'm in the wrong here based on your responses. I guess I thought there was more of a brotherhood vibe in a drum shop, like how it appears at drum shows. Now I know better.
 

rkingston

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Sorry for the long rant, I'm just so disappointed.

Brother, I feel ya. This has happened to me so often, and in more places than just drum shops.

I see it as a result of two main factors:

1: Customer service simply isn’t what it used to be. Salesmen used to linger around to genuinely satisfy their customers; make sure they could address any questions you had, give you access to the hard-to-reach items, etc. Now they usually just give the hairy eyeball and start from a place of distrust.

2: Internet persona. Kind of in the same vein as “never meet your heroes”, fans of a star have imagined for themselves a certain way their star is. Then when they meet face to face, disappointment ensues: the star doesn’t know the fan, but the fan “knows” the star. Why were the warm and fuzzies not reciprocated? Same is true with brick and mortars who have a dominant presence on the socials. They are not nearly as happy to see you, the stranger, as you are to be in this legendary toy store of your dreams. To them, we’re just the new guy with the potential for deep pockets (and I’m not talking about your groove), spendless tire kicking, measly accessory purchases, or outright theft.

Bonus reason: not all of us were blessed with the vibe and charisma that earns a handful of customers instant trust.

None of this excuses the behavior of these shops, but from my perspective anyway, it explains it.

Indeed, I’ve experienced what you’ve described at a handful of well known drum shops here in New England, and I have often (not always) left feeling a little dirty. Stinks.

My solution? Lower your expectations and keep your personal candy store ideal in check. They don’t want to fulfill the sense of childlike wonder they’ve already portrayed online, they want your money and then for you to leave.
 

RickyColaiuta

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Did they ask you to leave? You could have just stayed and looked at more stuff, right? Maybe you misinterpreted a vibe? All I can say is that I worked at Drummer’s World in NYC for a few years during college and have definitely seen customers get flustered with a well intentioned staff member so it goes both ways. But next time tell them you aren’t ready to leave - this is still the USA brother!!!
 

DrummBumm89

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I think everything here comes down to communication as does most problems in most situations everywhere.
The store likely could have communicated better or had a salesperson who is trying to find common ground in a connection to the customer. To act like they aren't in business to make money and that sales people are somehow different than they were is goofy.
If this was also a Friday or Saturday, that's a slightly different vibe since those tend to be more hectic for sale stuff in the drum world. Lots of window shoppers and lots to do especially if this is a recent visit since we are a week removed from Black Friday.
The customer could also clarify things.
It was frustrating to me when I would spend 30 minutes looking at cymbals with someone and then they would adeptly switch over to drum heads for 30 minutes without specifying that they're thinking about cymbals still. It just made me think that they wanted to ask a million questions about a million things.
If someone didn't give me any intention that they wanted to play a bass drum pedal on a bass drum, I wouldn't volunteer to put one on.
We had a wall similar where you could try out a hundred pedals but I would never jump to get someone to put it on a bass drum.
Usually from playing that alone people could get the general just if they like the pedal or not.
 

drummer5359

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I live in a fairly sizeable market (Tampa Bay...which includes Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Sarasota) but there are no large drum shops in our area. We have a Guitar Center and a Sam Ash Music Store but the drum departments are not stocked very well especially for Paiste cymbals and boutique brands. Really everything.

I am on a long weekend vacation in Memphis and have been super excited about visiting Memphis Drum Shop. I'd been planning on trying out cymbals and looking at the Yamaha Crosstown and new Rogers hardware. I also really wanted to try some new bass drum pedals. As well as look at their amazing vintage drum collection.

I arrived to the shop at 10:45 this morning and made an initial introduction with an associate and someone I was told later is the owner. I told them I was getting bored with my cymbals and was curious to hear Instanbuls in person, as no store near me stocks them. I've been a Paiste player for decades and the owner was probably wise to tell me if I like and play Paiste, Istanbuls are probably not for me (I play rock). So I started inquiring about pedals. They had a few set up on a rubber board but never offered to let me try one on a bass drum. They did let me try a snare. After about an hour in the store I pretty much got run out of there. I was flabbergasted! Is this the way it is in drum shops these days?!?! I wanted to stay longer. I didn't even get to look at swag.

I really liked a used Oriollo snare I tried out but they were asking $450 (I think) for the drum. I don't know about the rest of you, but I need to think about a $450 purchase. I just don't jump on it. So I walked away and started tapping on some cymbals in the vault. I fell in love with a 17" Paiste dark energy crash as well as a 16" Signature. Again, +$400 and +$300 prices. They also had a used Sonor Perfect Balance Standard pedal sitting out attached to a box that I checked out. The Standard Perfect Balance pedal has been on my list of pedals to try out.

It takes time to look at snares, cymbals and pedals...and gawk at the vintage museum pieces they have. I'm so disappointed that what started as such an exciting and fun day turned so quickly. I wasn't done looking and had more questions. I certainly feel like I could have been tempted to buy a bigger ticket item. We flew to Memphis so transporting stuff back was a consideration, especially the snares. I asked about cases and was given a full retail quote. I asked about shipping and it got weird, the associate said, "well I'm sure you can bring a cymbal on the plane". C'mon. No used snare case (or new for that matter) you could make a deal on? Or offer shipping? Am I that out of touch with the way the world works now? The associate eventually said to me, "what's it going to be? Do you want that snare?". I told him I wanted the used Sonor pedal, which was $150. And then I was shown the door. Almost the entire time the guy was shadowing me. He left briefly a few times, but he was "on" me. In all fairness, he did let me spend time putting a stick on cymbals.

In the end I was at least able to see the Crosstown hardware in person and feel just how light it is. The new Rogers hardware looks awesome but is still heavier than the Crosstown stuff. I know I also like the sound of an Oriollo snare. Unfortunately, the clerk didn't know the shell material. It was very light so I assume aluminum (it had a crazy color pattern). And I got a pedal I was curious about.

I had a great first few minutes talking music and drum styles with the associate, but something changed quickly. Did the owner tell him to get rid of me? Is this the way it is in all the well-known major drum shops? Sorry for the long rant, I'm just so disappointed.

I'm sorry that you had a bad experience.

Drum shops should have a welcoming atmosphere, Memphis Drum Shop usually does. (At least in my experience.) The first time I stopped there in person, I introduced myself and told them that I had bought from them several times online over the years. Maybe that was in my favor, I don't know. The shop usually has a very mellow vibe in my opinion. Admittedly, I've only shopped there three or four times when I've been in the area.

Certain shops really have that "we are all part of the same club" feel when you visit. Dale's in Harrisburg made me feel like an old friend the first time that I shopped there. Skins N Tins in Champaign Illinois always made me feel like I was visiting family that just happened to own a drum shop. (I miss Terry and Liz's shop!) Columbus Pro Percussion has always been a super friendly shop and I've had great experiences at Steve Maxwell's.

On the other hand, when I visited Drum Center of Portsmouth a while back it didn't come off as the most welcoming place. It was okay, but not as friendly as I expected. Of course, the selection at Portsmouth is a Disneyland for drummers, so it didn't really bother me. I'm still a happy enough customer, but it didn't have the vibe that I expected after watching dozens of their videos. It might have just been the day that I was there, I don't hold it against them.

There used to be a shop that I'm not going to name. The original owner was a prince, his son took over and let's just say that his customer service skills were lacking. The son would go home at five PM and the shop would be busy for the last two hours, because no one wanted to deal with him. I lived a couple of miles from his shop and would rather drive three hours to Dale's for major purchases.

I was in retail management for thirty years, although not in the music gear industry. A lot of things figure into good customer service, and day to day things can vary. Everybody (and every business) can have a bad day. It happens to the best.

Again, I'm sorry that it was not the experience that you were hoping for.
 
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Rich K.

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Did they ask you to leave? You could have just stayed and looked at more stuff, right? Maybe you misinterpreted a vibe? All I can say is that I worked at Drummer’s World in NYC for a few years during college and have definitely seen customers get flustered with a well intentioned staff member so it goes both ways. But next time tell them you aren’t ready to leave - this is still the USA brother!!!
Funny you mention Drummers World...
I used to love that place. The owner was super nice. I went there on an impulse one day to buy a new drum set (business was good). There was a name jazz drummer in the shop who just had a rivet installed in a ride. The guys working there (not Barry) completely ignored me. I went back to my office and bought a set from Indoor Storm (early internet store) on ebay.

A few days ago my wife and I drove 45 minutes to a large tack shop to get her riding boots. After waiting for help, we finally found out they didn't have anything she wanted in stock and ordering could take a couple months. The next day we drove 1.5 hours to another store... similar story, though they were very nice. From their parking lot, I ordered the boots online and had them a few days later.

Retail, like we all knew it, will be pretty much gone in 20 years.
 

Saladdaze

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I think the comments here on the future of retail are legit, @red66charger. Especially after hearing of your experience this morning. What an indictment of today’s retail mindset.

iTunes? Amazon? Terrestrial radio? The entire newspaper industry? If you own a brick-based retail establishment and aren’t paying attention by now, I can tell you how this movie ends.

I don’t think anyone here has the right to “try” to explain the completely p*** poor customer experience you had today. That’s laughable.

Did that floor sales rep qualify you in any way? Get you to talk about your Camcos? Or maybe your JM kit? Or pristine gray ripple Rogers? I sell for a living. That’s part of your job. They missed it. Completely missed it.

You have every right to be disappointed. And to shout it from the mountaintops. You’ll tell an average of 7 people about your experience today. You just blew that average out of the water.

I’m listening and won’t patronize MDS with my future business. Mission accomplished, @red66charger. Mission accomplished.
 

red66charger

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I'm not sure what you're looking for, validation that you weren't valued enough?
I've thought a lot about your question and discussed it with my wife who was with me some of the time and who knew how excited I was for visiting Memphis Drum Shop on our trip (she even went shopping somewhere else because she knew I was planning on being there a while).

I guess I was looking for being welcomed and treated as a potential buyer. I'm not looking for your validation. I was wondering what everyone else's experience is like in the well-known "pro" drum shops. I can't say enough how thrilled I was to be going to MDS. Was I so wrong for that?
 
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equipmentdork

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I've been in mom and pop shops as well as big box stores, and I think that expectations have to be tailored a bit. Some of my favorite drum shops are those where I'm free to browse, with salespeople lurking in the background. That is usually what happens for me in a mom and pop store. The people in GC are helpful....if you can find them. I have absolutely walked out and put things down because I had literally run out of time and no one was in the drum department.

So, I think people's preferences about hovering salespeople will vary. Should a person greet you, then settle back, or be at your beck and call? I think it's a tough balance to strike up. Everyone is going to have a different comfort level. I get that.



Dan
 

Steech

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I've thought a lot about your question and discussed it with my wife who was with me some of the time and who knew how excited I was for visiting Memphis Drum Shop on our trip (she even went shopping somewhere else because she knew I was planning on being there a while).

I guess I was looking for being welcomed and treated as a potential buyer. I'm not looking for your validation. I was wondering what everyone else's experience is like in the well-known "pro" drum shops. I can't say enough how thrilled I was to be going to MDS. Was I so wrong for that?
I’m frankly surprised by the folks who have replied here excusing or validating the attitude that you got from the MDS staff. It is inexcusable IMO and shows either a lack of retail sales experience, or apathy, or both.
 
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Houndog

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if you've ever done any retail sales work, it takes about one minute to size up a customer to find out if they're going to buy anything

they got you right, because you bought nothing after being there an hour...

what were they supposed to do?


That’s hilariously WRONG !!!


I’m in sales myself so don’t play that I have experience card …
 

Houndog

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Exactly how were you “ shown the door “ ?

I’ve never heard of such a thing in retail unless someone was being very unreasonable…..
 

Steech

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I remember going into a swanky furniture store in San Francisco once and the very young sales associate following me around and then showing me the used section.

I found another salesperson and asked about a $12,000 leather sofa, just to get the reaction from the other person. It was worth it.

I ended up getting a pretty good deal at Macy’s.
 


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