When I feel inspired about unique, annoying or interesting retail related topics, I write. If I am not “feelin’ it” as Drake says on the latest Sprite ad, I don’t. The other day, I felt it…

A friend took me into a store called Cosmo Music, “The Music  Instrument Superstore” in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Bearing in mind that the retail trend of  ‘Category Killer’ was from the eighties, this store bore no relation to any music retail environment before it and I dare say has redefined the category.

This is Disneyland for any musician, professional or otherwise. Although the actual store design isn’t that inspiring, the layout is fascinating as it separates instruments by category into their own worlds (there is even an ‘Audio Garage’ for microphones and amps). They have separate rooms for guitars (their biggest), woodwind and brass instruments, electric keyboards, upright pianos, drums and percussion, sheet music.

Cosmo Music was founded in 1968 with a small store selling imported guitars. Forty years later almost to the day, the latest incarnation of music retail was opened. My friend remarked that it looks like a car dealership when you first walk in as there is an atrium “show room” feel to the grand hall. The grand hall leads you to the various “store fronts” of the specialized rooms or “stores”. It also leads you to a staircase where upstairs houses the upright pianos in the “Piano Loft” (how did they get all those pianos up there and how do they ‘re-merchandise’ that room, we wondered??), 40 (yes, 40) private instruction rooms and a concert hall that seats about 100. It is definitely the next evolution of the Category Killer and “Retailtainment” concept.

The first person I thought of was my nephew Jesse Gold, an accomplished musician in his own right already at 16 (today – Happy Birthday Jesse!). Had he been there? I am awaiting that answer but if he hasn’t been, he must go. He will think he had reached Nirvana (not the group)…It is everything a music store should and can be. The staff are all passionate about what they do and they are jamming away in each of the rooms on their favourite instruments. And, what could be so bad about selling music and the promise of making beautiful music together with a new (or used) instrument – a pretty positive vibe emanates from each room.

I gather the economic model works even with the amount of inventory that is being carried and what must help are the brilliant business extensions, amongst lessons being booked, classes, concerts, instrument rentals by individuals and institutions (ie. schools).  But it is also a truly impressive example of retail merchandising meets passion for the product meets mecca for professional musicians. We have our Home Depots, our Golftowns, our Toys ‘R Us, our Babies ‘R Us and we can add Cosmo Music to the list of those who have taken it to the next level of passion and commitment.

When the flutes and clarinets are housed in a humidor that helps keep them “moist”, you know you are in the right place for music.

I loved my visit – oh and I don’t even play an instrument!

TheRetailTherapist 🙂

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