TAYLOR GUITARS - ABC 7 CHICAGO NEWS 9/22/09
Tobias Music in the News
Below are several news stories about Tobias Music. Click on the headlines to read the full news story.
This winter was one for the books. From December to March, record snows, cold snaps and ice storms gripped the U.S. from Manhattan to Atlanta.
Tobias Music, a leading musical instrument retailer in the greater Chicago area, was recognized by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) with a “Top 100 Dealer Award” in the category of “Best Sales Promotion” for its participation in the Taylor Guitars Road Show. The award, which was given at NAMM’s annual summer trade show in Nashville, Tennessee, honored Tobias Music’s record-breaking Taylor event, which was held in 2010 at the Tivoli Theater in Downers Grove, Illinois, and drew 650 guitar enthusiasts from the local community.
Paul Tobias is the son of the founder of Tobias Guitars, which is located in Downers Grove, Illinois and specializes in handcrafted acoustic guitars such as those made by Taylor, Martin and Santa Cruz. Paul took over as president when his father retired but his father has not gone far from the store. In fact Ken Tobias can be seen in the store nearly as often as his son. Both have a great passion for music making and their customers.
I had a chance to visit a really nice guitar shop and wanted to post a summary. Last week, I was in the Chicago area for a meeting and went to visit Tobias Music in Downer’s Grove, IL. I spent about 2 hours there with my wife Jennifer who was really great about being part of the guitar “geek-squad.” Anyway, the visit was VERY nice. I was totally impressed with this shop, truly a Mom & Pop kind of place (actually a Pop & Son place on the day of our visit as Ken & Paul Tobias were at the helm). Mostly an acoustic store, they are a first-rate Taylor dealer and also handle Martin, Santa Cruz, Walden and more. They also had a number of Weber mandos on-hands as well.
Over the past two years, Tobias has hosted the biggest Taylor Guitars Road Shows in Taylor’s history, with nearly 600 people in attendance. These shows helped Tobias to have two of the most profitable years in their store’s 33-year history. Check out the video to see more!
Tobias Music sits in a hotbed of chain retail. Within six miles of the independent Downers Grove, Ill., guitar shop lies Guitar Center, Sam Ash Music and Best Buy — national music retail players with the advantages of deep advertising pockets and mile-wide inventories. They carry many of the same brands as Tobias Music, including such names as Taylor Guitars and C.F. Martin, at discounted prices. Still, company co-owner Paul Tobias isn’t sweating.
In fact, he often beats those companies at their own game, price, via a low-overhead business model — he and his father, Ken, run the tiny 400-square-foot shop by themselves. And when customers purchase a guitar, he throws in a few free value-added services, including a restringing and setup. Sometimes, he’ll even sweeten the deal with a free tuner or handful of picks.
If you’re looking for the key to profitable music retailing, you might want to think small. A few months ago Taylor Guitars President Kurt Listug visited Tobias Music, one of his most productive dealers, for the first time. According to owner Ken Tobias, Listug kept circling the premises, peering into the small storage area and even the bathroom, apparently looking for the rest of the store. But there was no “rest of the store.” Based upon Tobias Music’s sales, Listug seemed to be expecting a much bigger operation than the modest 18 x 18 facility, which is staffed solely by Ken on weekdays and by Ken and his wife, Margaret, on Saturdays. “There’s no room for anybody else,” explains Ken Tobias.
Tobias Music completed a showroom makeover and expansion in March. The project, which began in late October 2011, tripled the Downers Grove, Ill., guitar shop’s space to roughly 1,600 square feet.
Tobias now has two connected showrooms. The old showroom features new carpeting and drapes, and the front door has been moved to make more room for accessories. The shop’s new and much larger section boasts wood paneling, track lighting, a couch and, in the back corner, a bar, where patrons can learn about Taylor Guitars’ Build to Order program on a flat-screen television.