Monday, August 13, 2018

Tariffs hit us at Fifth and Maine.

THE INCREASE IN tariffs will be felt everywhere, including Second String Music. We received an ominous email from one of our major suppliers Friday, and it warns that prices are going up after the next round of tariffs later this month.

A lot of retailers are stocking up before the prices rise. We can't do that. We are careful about what we buy and we try to offer internet-friendly prices, as best we can. That being said, expect prices to rise, and significantly rise, as the year wears on.

What really worries us is that suppliers are saying items are out of stock. We have enough trouble getting quality guitars in the store, like our amazing Takamine acoustics. A fresh batch arrived today after many months of delays. The struggle will hit home sooner than you think.

If we can't order stock, we can't stay in business. But hey, we're tough, just like the American farmer. We can take it.

This whole business of "short-term pain, long-term gain" is utter bullshit. I don't believe a word that comes from the White House, and they couldn't care less anyway. I'll stop now.

We are battered by cheaper online sales, sales tax, property taxes, building costs and just trying to pay the mortgage. So what's a minor thing like tariffs going to do?

I'm all about buying American. But we as a country are all about WalMarting our way through life and getting the best deal possible, no matter where items are made. Unfortunately, most are made overseas.

We'll wait and see what happens with tariffs. But be prepared to pay more, and let's hope we can take it. Shop local, small business to ensure your own economy stays as strong as possible in the upcoming and unsure economy. We are bracing for a storm.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Ref shortages

THERE ARE HIGH school football teams in our area moving games from Friday night to Saturdays because there aren't enough officials. That's right - you can't play the game unless you have refs. The Whig broke it down in this excellent article, and it's a tough deal all the way around.

I've often thought about getting registered for hoops and football, even umpiring. My excuses are that I play in four bands, I work at The Whig in the sports department and I like quiet Friday and Saturday nights every now and then. Excuses, I know.

After working for Gus Macker in Burlington, Iowa, this past weekend, it again amazes me the amount of abuse officials take when trying to do their jobs. This was a first-year tournament and the local organizers did an excellent job, but we were shorthanded for court refs, and we scrambled. I ended up doing about a dozen games, and most of them were OK, but a few weren't.

It's not my fault your player elbowed the other player in the throat on the way to the basket, and I called an offensive foul, and you got all bent out of shape and told me I was terrible. I'd advise you to jump in the Mississippi River (it was about 30 yards away) but then you'd get even madder.

What I always say about events like Gus Macker is that 99 percent of the parents and fans get it. But it's that 1 percent causing all the problems. There were a couple of dads coaching 10-year-olds on one court getting way bent out of shape at their kids, and they tried yelling at me a few times, but it was windy and the PA system was really loud and I couldn't hear them, and when they realized I couldn't have cared less about their ranting, they gave up and yelled at their kids instead.

I wonder if this is why we have a lack of high school football officials. You are going to take abuse, no matter what you do or what teams are playing. Is it worth that $70 to get yelled at all night? Sheryl says this is exactly the reason we have a shortage of substitute teachers in the school district....

So the next time you are at a high school football game, and there's a call you don't like, and you start jumping up and down and hollering, stop for one second and think about it.

Nah. Keep yelling. Maybe we'll find enough officials someday to do all the games.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Holy Hairy Cat Chairs, Batman!

WE HAVE A room in the front of Second String Music used for storage - repairs, band instruments, assorted items. There is actually two rooms with a door we leave open.

Behind that door is a chair. It's a nice chair. We have had it ever since we opened the store more than seven years ago. But it's behind the door. So our cat, Fast Eddie, lays in it all the time. Before that, Luckycat Vegas lounged away the music store days in peace and quiet.

This chair, technically, is blue. But it looks white. That's because there's seven years of cat hair layered into the fabric. I have tried cleaning it and pulled out at least seven pillows-worth of cat hair. But I don't have the patience to clean it.

So we have put it on the sidewalk. It's free. We call this a "Calftown Garage Sale" and it's an effective way of finding the chair a new home. We did the same thing for some battered chairs and sofas at the old store.

You'll have to de-fur it. It's doable. It just takes time and patience. And it's a nice chair. Meow and you are welcome.

We'll see how long it lasts on the sidewalk.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Monkees and history

LATELY I'VE BEEN digging The Monkees. It's an utterly fascinating story, four actors cast into a 1960s TV show, lip-syncing one great song after another. The band members didn't play much on the first monster records, but later morphed into creative musicians, and they are still out there, the ones that are left.

I'm using "Last Train To Clarksville" in lessons. Geesh, how come it took me all these years to realize this is a thing of genius? It rolls off the G octave in the riff and the inversions are maddening. It's no surprise the California-based Wrecking Crew played on much of the Monkees music.

The best part is when a younger person gets a charge from a song that is 52 years old. FIFTY TWO. Almost as old as me, and that's pretty bleeping old.

One of my young ukulele students learned it yesterday and said it was "pretty cool," and you can't get much better than that. She asked what the song was about, which led to a short conversation about when it was written, what the country was going through at the time, and the fact it was about a soldier about to embark to Vietnam. "And I don't know if I'm ever coming home ...." It's just a catchy pop song, but it's poignant and the student was fascinated.

Who knew a Monkees song could be used in guitar lessons and to teach history?

It's yet another powerful example of how great music is timeless.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Sidewalk Sale Saturday

THE DISTRICT HAS been approved by the city to have sidewalk sales on Saturdays in August. We think this is a great idea, and I'm already thinking of things to put out there. We have a lot of stock right now and a special on bass guitars and amps (10 percent off this month), so we'll put some stuff out and see what happens.

I have a guitar or five I could sell. Which one, or ones? This Saturday. Fifth and Maine. Be there. I'll have them priced to sell. I have a couple of amps, pedals, and who knows what else I might be able to find. We'll rock starting at 10 a.m. as long as there's shade and the weather is decent.

The city does have ordinances about sidewalks. There are some businesses down here that blur the line, and I can see why the city has rules. On the one hand, it's cool when places like the Tap Room and our own Electric Fountain Brewing put tables out and dress it up - EFB has some nice planters and even a bike rack. But they had to get a special permit for those. It is all about keeping things clean and accessible.

The other night I drove past the new bar on Maine, Joker's Lounge. There were some chairs out and there was a spirited game of bags going on, and I thought it was a great way to advertise the bar.

Other businesses tend to put out .... well, stuff. It makes the sidewalk look a little junky, to be honest. There's a fine line between creating a street vibe and making it look messy and unorganized.

Anyway, come see us Saturday morning, assuming we survived another epic Blues In The District on Friday night. We'll be on the sidewalk for that, as well.

Monday, August 6, 2018

More new Fender stuff

WE GOT MORE new Fender guitars in Friday at Second String Music. It's always fun to open boxes and pull out amazing guitars. The newest members of our family, and I hope they find new homes soon, include a gorgeous blue Telecaster and an American Elite bass. Plus we have a killer deal on a new Tim Armstrong Hellcat acoustic you have to see and play to believe.

We also had a dad who ordered a Classic Series 50s Stratocaster for his son for his birthday. The kid had no idea what was going on when he came in to check guitars out. We suggested he play a couple of guitars for fun, and after he played the 50s Strat he started swooning. I was back in lessons when the father finally broke the news and told his son the guitar was his for his birthday, and Sheryl says it was quite the scene.

Earlier we had a woman come in and buy an acoustic guitar for her granddaughter. Again, it's not how expensive the guitar is, but it's the gift that counts, and the gift of music is a powerful thing indeed.

You can always be good to yourself, too! We can make it happen at Fifth and Maine, and as always, it's an honor and a lot of fun to help give the gift of music.

Sale this month - all bass electric, bass acoustic, bass strings and bass amplifiers are 10% off. That saves you the sales tax and 2% which makes them CHEAPER than the internet! Sale is good through August 31st and applies to in-stock items only.