Saturday, June 30, 2012

Warren Riley Rocks

SHERYL SAYS SHE will not miss our 8th and Washington store. She's had to deal with the ignorant landlords, so I don't blame her.  She will miss her buddy Warren.  He has taught her a lot and without him she doesn't think our store would be where it has come over the last year and four months.  (Okay, time to stop before she starts to bawl.)

I will miss some things about this old store, especially Saturday mornings, sitting in the ugly green chair in back while writing a blog. I will miss walking from the house to the store a block away. I will miss talking to the ghosts in the vacant upstairs apartment. I will miss giving lessons in the former Peggy's Costumes fitting room.

But most of all, I will miss Warren Riley, our guitar teacher, on Saturday mornings. The first thing we did after deciding to open the store was get Warren on board, and it was the smartest thing we did.

Warren not only brought guitar students in, he talked to customers and he made us laugh. He's grown up a lot in the past year, and now he has a young son, a real job and responsibilities. So he's giving up the guitar lesson thing for now.

Warren is playing bass in my original music band, Sidewalk Chalk (cheap plug: we play next Friday night at Johnny Bang Bangs at 7:30 with three other acts). There's more than a few awesome bass players out there, but Warren's spirit and drive made him an easy choice.

I will really miss us sitting in back after a long Saturday, sipping a beverage, talking nonsense and life. Which are the same things.

Lucky, Warren and RotKnee doing the RnR Point.
I have a feeling he'll be back teaching guitar at Second String Music again someday. In the meantime, I give him the rock and roll salute, and he'll be ingrained in our memories of Second String Music in Calftown.

Rock on, Warren!

BTW, I'm not sucking up to you so you will help us move at noon tomorrow. Really. Honest.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Carpet and soul cleaing

Bella smiling like we don't know what she just did....
SHERYL BOUGHT A carpet cleaner the other day and has started attacking some "problem" areas in the house. Our dumb dog Bella has a tendency to eat Christmas trees, tin foil and squirrels. She goes through times of great bowel distress, which I'd rather not get into, which means you can keep reading.

"All I'm really doing is getting the bleep stains out of the carpet," Sheryl says.

Well, yes, that's a simple way of putting it. We have to vacuum quite a bit due to shedding dogs, and I always feel better after sucking up three pounds of canine essence.

It's the same way with the soul. We have had to do a lot of thinking lately with the store moving and some other stuff, and it's good to clean out all the junk. I am terrible when it comes to keeping things bottled up and having it eat away at me, and Sheryl doesn't put up with it. If we have issues, she's very good about getting them out in the open and figuring it out.

We have done a fair amount of cleaning at the new Second String Music already, with a lot more to come. Inside and outside, it's gotta be done on a regular basis.

And it feels good when you are done!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On The Road

OUT OF TOWN this week covering a murder trial. Should be done today, with any luck.

Murder trials are exercises in patience, concentration and more patience. Making them more challenging are the multi-media requirements today, where bosses expect photos and videos with everything. Thank goodness today H-W photographer Phil Carlson is here.

I used to enjoy going out of town for events, but now it's the same old hotels, restaurants and places kind of thing. My musical hero, Pete Townsend, talks a lot about how playing is fun but the traveling and touring is a pain. I used to think he was nuts - who wouldn't want to travel and see new things and experience places?

Well, it's a hotel and courtroom, for the most part. I'm too old and Dutch to go out and have fun. I'd rather fall asleep watching the NBA Finals so I'm ready to go the next morning.

I miss my wife, the store, the dogs and cats, just being home. If age does that to you, I'm OK with it.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Big Move, and treating your tenants right

The sign will soon come down.
WE ARE MOVING Second String Music to the corner of Fifth and Maine, and we'll be up and rocking July 2.

The decision to move was not easy. Sheryl and I love being in the old Calftown grocery store at Eighth and Washington. It's a block from our house, the street theater is free and the place has character.

But we are out of room. So we started talking about moving on up.

Our hand was forced by an out of town landlord who fails to understand the responsibility of taking care of an old building. I'm not going to get into it. Reputation is everything, and being a bully is pointless. Enough said.

"It will all work out," Sheryl said a while back, when things were up in the air. 

We looked at some different areas of town. Broadway was tempting because of the huge traffic. But rent is outrageous - how can a small business survive? No wonder places come and go on Quincy's busiest street. I will say I appreciated one building owner who worked with us and was very fair and upfront about the process.

We wanted a building with character, with possibilities, with life. We found it at Fifth and Maine, and old bank building with history oozing from transom windows and worn steps.

Our negotiation to rent the first floor was seamless. We have a very good landlord. We are beyond excited.

The first floor is massive. Sadly, the floors above are in bad shape. It makes you wonder thinking about who owned the place back in the day and allowed it to get like this.

So much to do. Frank Haxel and I start the process this afternoon, and a very happy Father's Day to us, lugging boxes of drum kits downtown!

It's all good. Our last day in Calftown is June 30, Fast Eddie's birthday, and one final riotous bash is just the ticket. After that and a Cheeseburger show, July 1 will be a challenge to move everything. But it will get done.

I am grateful to our loyal Second String customers. I can't wait to work with the city's economic development and downtown promoters. There are some huge life decisions to make.

It's all good. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dare to Scream ... er, Dream

SHERYL AND I are making big plans and bouncing around ideas for Second String Music.

The day we moved in...
Some call it the "Dare To Dream" principle. We think it's more like "Dare To Scream" because the possibilities are terrifyingly possible, if that makes sense.

You get used to things the way they are and when you consider how different it could be, well, it's unsettling and exciting at the same time.

We can't dive in without a plan, but let's just say we know the risks and rewards. We have good people around us. We are thinking very carefully about everything involved.

The store has been an incredible experience, and to think we've barely scratched the surface ... GUH.

Makes you wanna scream, er, dream of what could be!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Much To Think About

SHERYL AND I have much to think about lately. First, our brother in music lessons and music stores in general, Warren Riley, has decided to stop giving lessons. Those of you on Facebook can click here for more. We are saddened to see Warren leave but he's still a member of the Second String Music family, and always will be.

We are thinking about taking the next big steps for our business, including a new location. We have several options, including one that is simply terrifying and intriguing. I just saw a quote about not taking risks is like not living out your dreams, which is very true.

We are talking about our lives here, not about a simple business opportunity. Fortunately we have a sound team behind us and some good people who will give us advice and help us consider things from all angles.

We are looking for something with more visibility and character, something that speaks about us. We are looking to work with reasonable people, not unhinged landlords who don't understand about taking care of property. We are doing our homework, and we are being very careful.

A big adventure awaits, that's for sure!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bad back is a stretch to cure

LIKE MANY, I deal with back pain from time to time. Almost always it's because I overdo it, because I'm dumb, so it happens quite a bit.

When it gets really bad I go see the chiropractor, who has saved my life more than once. In recent years I've sought relief by talking to my doctor, who prescribes oral steroids, and it always works. Last summer it took two rounds before I finally started feeling better.

Three Cheeseburger shows in three nights over Memorial Day weekend did me in, and I was miserable last week. I couldn't sit for more than a few minutes at a time and I felt like a creaky old man when I stood up. Walking around and stretching seemed to help.

On Thursday night, Sheryl finally convinced me to attend a Pilates session at NuFit. We've been going on Mondays but missed it last week because of the holiday, and because I felt like crap.

I still felt like crap and it hurt when we started Thursday, but lo and behold, by Friday afternoon the back started feeling better. Saturday we had a show and Sunday I even hacked around with the boss at the golf course.

We did Pilates this past Monday and now I'm actually able to sit down and stand up with reasonable certainty. Now we are thinking about going twice a week.

Pilates AND Cheese!
The whole stretching and strong core thing is working.  I felt good enough last Saturday to sing Baba O'Reilly AND do a Pilates move!

I have an awesome doctor in Rick Noble and I trust him, and always confer on serious matters. But here's the moral of the story -  there are things you can do to better your health. You don't always have to rely on pills. You can gauge your condition and listen to your body and figure it out yourself.

I refuse to back out on life, and I encourage everybody to give exercise and programs like Pilates a shot.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Learning more and more about retail

SHERYL AND I continue to learn every single day about how to run a retail business.

When you post hours, stay open during those hours. If you are open until 6, stay open until 6. I learned this almost the hard way last Saturday, when Sheryl and I got ready to leave at 5:55 p.m. Sure enough, a young man came up to the door, took a look at the closed sign, and started to turn away before I caught him. Turns out he bought a very nice amp from us and I would have lost the sale in my haste to save a few minutes to get out of Dodge.

I have learned that if someone comes to see us about a guitar and then buys from a competitor, it's no big deal. We do what we do and if somebody goes another direction, well, at least they gave us a shot and a chance, and that's all we can ask. You are under no pressure if you come in here looking for a guitar, amp or instrument. These are big decisions and Second String Music likes being considered.

The other thing people should realize is that not being honest with us will do you no good. It will only make us more determined to be better. Lesson's are enlightening about the person that was dishonest and we STILL learn from these experiences. In the end, it will make us better serve our customers and the music community.

We keep learning and growing, and they both go hand in hand.  Come by and visit with us.