Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Finances and responsibilities

OUR NEW FENDER guitars and basses have arrived at Second String Music. They are gorgeous. We have an American Stratocaster and Mexican Telecaster on the wall right now, just begging to be played and to find a new forever home.

We got the Telecaster for a young man who saved his money and has dreamed of owning one. But he just called and said he's out of a job and it wouldn't be responsible for him to buy a new guitar right now.

That's okay. Here's how it works in retail - we try to get nice stuff in here and hope you buy it, but it's your choice and your decision. We can't force anything. The Telecaster will sell, and we'll get more. We understand jobs and family and responsibility. We are a small business that has had to balance our own finances and responsibilities. We truly do get it.

I just pulled the trigger on a new Princeton Reverb amplifier. It's tube amp heaven. Geesh ... I might even take it out for our HartLyss gig at State Street Bar this Sunday from 3 to 7 p.m. How's that for a cheap plug?

We have a Cheeseburger show a week from Friday in Hannibal (more on that in a later blog) and another March 24 for the Fabulous Fur Ball, so the Princeton will get a workout then, too.

Here's the deal - I've always wanted a nice Fender tube amp. We ordered the Princeton. I played it. I fell in love. I sold another tube amp to help pay for it and saved some gig money. Then I paid it off. Sheryl even does layaway for ME!

See how it works? It's not hard. If you've dreamed of owning a new Fender, come in and see us, and when you are ready, we'll make it happen.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Cans and kindness

THERE'S AN OLDER woman who lives in Calftown who walks. A lot. She is often downtown and she likes to stop at the store to say hello to Fast Eddie and the dogs. She's very polite and we like her.

We first met her when the store was at 8th and Washington and got to know her husband as well. They were an interesting couple. This woman struggles to get by every month. It's not something she talks a lot about, but you can tell it's tough. Her husband died a few years ago and I think she is on disability.

I see her looking in the trash bins looking for aluminum cans. After we have a store party, she'll stop by to see if she can have all the empty cans. Why not? They'll just end up at the recycle place anyway, and she can certainly use the few dollars they bring. Sheryl told her last week we would have a bunch and that we could bring them by her house. The plan was set.

Of course a LOT of beverages were consumed this past weekend, per usual during a Second String Music store party. Sheryl gathered up all the cans Monday morning and put them in a big bag and said it was for our friend.

Sheryl had her address but thought it was on the alley, not on the street side. So we kept driving, and we saw the woman sitting by the gas station at Eighth and York. It was raining and she looked a bit cold.

We stopped at the gas station, and Sheryl told her we had a bunch of cans for her. She looked at the car and said, "Well I was headed home, let me show you the way." They proceeded to load her and her gear into the car. It was only 5 or 6 blocks and now we know exactly which house to put our bags of cans when we get a ton. Luckily, the recycle place is only two blocks from her house. She was over the moon happy and grateful.

You know, it's the little things. Was this any big deal for us? No. Hell no! Sheryl, of course, had a good point when she said it took me out of my comfort zone, and that's very true, but in the end it made us feel like we had accomplished something on this rainy day.

They say it's better to give than receive. Maybe we all should hit 'em with a little kindness once in awhile. I know I need to do that more often.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Three dogs, a cat and a thunderstorm

WE HAD MASSIVE thunderstorms roll through the Q-Town overnight. These are enough to wake the dead. It's even worse when you have three dogs and a cat.

Angus The Young always sleeps on the bed, and Tucker will jump up there too. Throw in Josie, the cat who thinks she is a dog, and Sheryl has plenty of furry companions with her when she sleeps. Genie usually finds a corner of the room or sleeps on the living room couch.

Last night the thunder and lightning started, and that meant no sleep for Sheryl. Tucker and Genie cowered at the side of the bed. Josie burrowed under the covers, and Angus somehow ended up under Sheryl's pillow.

Usually on top of the covers, except during a thunderstorm...
Where was I? Passed out upstairs.


There isn't much you can do when the storms roll in. Border Collies in particular have issues with loud noises. Sheryl didn't get much sleep and finally rolled out of bed in a bad mood. I can't blame her, because sleep is sleep and if you don't get it, the whole day gets thrown out of whack.

We have Angus at the store today and he's really acting strange. He keeps coming back to the back room and sleeping at my feet while I type this. I had a few lessons this morning and he wouldn't budge from under my feet, and he Corgi-growled his displeasure when I woke him up and made him move so I could balance my guitar on my knees.

So tonight I'll go home and have a chat with the canines and the cat, and I'm sure they will listen and not roll their eyes and be in good moods while I tell them to leave Sheryl alone and make sure she can sleep.

Right. It's their world. We just sleep in it. Or try to, anyway.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Beer Can Bowling is HUGE

FORGET ABOUT THE Olympics, or impending March Madness. The real Sport of Kings takes place Saturday at Second String Music, during our 7 Year Itch party.

Yup. It's the first-ever, inaugural and never been done before Beer Can Bowling Invitational. Already we've issued 17 press credentials from seven different countries, er, counties, and the excitement is palpable at Fifth and Maine.
NOT the real trophy

We had a meeting last Friday that got in the way of Happy Hour, but we overcame. Frank Haxel was named Beer Can Bowling Association president, Adam Yates is the executive editor, I'm the senior write, Sheryl is comptroller (she resigned immediately), James McKinney is director of security and Steve Rees and Paul Lester are non-volunteer volunteers. That means they don't have to attend any meetings. Actually, none of us do, which is why this whole operation is such a well-oiled machine.

We've made rules, which are as follows ....

The cans (pins) are set up 10 at a time. Each bowler gets three throws. Each pin is worth one point. If there are disputes, Director of Security James McKinney will settle it. The last time James was asked to direct security, two idiots were deposited on the sidewalk of the old Blind Pig before they knew what hit them, so don't mess with James.

If you hold a beverage and throw, you get one bonus point. If we have the event on the sidewalk, same goes for holding a stogie.

Also, committee members can cheat. The ball can only bounce once (or twice). The person with the worst score must roll an un-opened beverage and knock down all the pins, then open the beverage right away, preferably on the sidewalk. Heaven forbid we spill beer on our carpet. Right.

The balls used for Beer Can Bowling belong to Angus. He is not happy about us using his stuff but he will get over it. He will probably be home by the time we start rolling (ark bark ruff) but if he’s still here he might snatch your shot before it hits the pins, and that’s just too bad. Have a beer.

So join us for the mayhem. It starts at noon with a jam session and the bowling starts about 3, and who knows how long we’ll be here. It promises to be memorable ... if we remember.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Mercantile Bank and Hollister Whitney connection

WE JUST DID some major Gretsch and Katana amp business with a man who is relearning how to play guitar. He picked out the amazing Gretsch Streamliner Junior with the Katana 50-watt amp, and he's over the moon happy. I showed him a couple of basic beginner drills and he's off to the races.

Moving the Safety Deposit boxes
Turns out he just retired from Mercantile bank and worked across the street. His wife works for Hollister-Whitney. There's a lot of history in our old Fifth and Maine Building and he asked about it.


I showed him the 1920 Hollister-Whitney birdcage elevator, and the back room where the Mercantile safe was located. We think shopping local should be an experience, and it's often more than just about picking out an instrument.

Mercantile Bank was in our building from 1905 until the early 1960s, and the two old safes are still being used. There are lots of marble pieces strewn around the various floors from the original counter in front of the first-floor safe.

1960 Security
Hollister-Whitney installed our elevator on Aug. 20, 1920. It hasn't worked in years and I'd love the Hollister-Whitney brass to know about it. Maybe they'd be interested in getting it up and working again! The man who installed it even signed our wall above the motor by the roof.

The customer is happy, and we are happy to show him around and make buying an instrument a good experience.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sorry, it's gone

ONE OF THE many challenging parts of small business is figuring out what sells. For us, it's the more affordable guitars and amps. If it was up to me, the musician, we'd have expensive guitars on the walls and high-end everything. Since Sheryl is the businesswoman and is the only reason we are still alive and kicking after seven years, we try to offer the good stuff but we realize where the bread and butter is in our store.

So, consider this your fair notice - we are having a huge sale all month long. It ends February 28th! All of our Dean and Luna guitars (acoustic/electric/bass) and all of our half-size guitars (luna, jasmine, fender, ibanez, jackson) are 20% off. They won't last long. We've sold a bunch in the last week and have a lot of people looking at them. Don't sit on your hands if you've had your eye on one.

We know buying an instrument, from a $130 Jasmine acoustic to a $1,500 Fender Strat, is a big deal. Musicians want the best bang for their buck and they often think carefully about buying. We get it.

A few weeks ago we had an inexpensive Ephiphone on the floor. It got a lot of looks and a lot of comments on our Facebook page. People went nuts over it. One man in particular had me play it for him and he said he'd be back to buy it.

He didn't come back until yesterday, and by then the guitar was long gone (it took three days to sell). He wasn't happy. This defies one of the basic tenants of retail, carved in stone by Sheryl's mom, the late Wilma Collins (a shopper extraordinaire). If you see it and want it, buy it. Also, if there are two, buy them both! Her mother was a genius.

We are all about doing your homework and taking your time before buying a guitar. But realize in the topsy turvy world of retail, items come and go. We'll do our  best to make sure it's here, but in the end, guitars sell and we move on.

Hopefully we can sell a few to you.