Business Overview

Musical instrument stores sell new and used instruments to customers. They offer instruments used in traditional music ensembles, including brass, percussion, wind, and string instruments. Some stores also offer electronic keyboards, upright pianos, and classical grand pianos. They may also sell musical instruments for rock bands such as guitars (acoustic and electric), bass guitars, and drum kits.

Music instrument stores typically also carry sound reinforcement equipment such as speakers, amplifiers, mixing consoles, and microphones. Music accessories are also offered. This includes many items such as sheet music, song books, guitar effects pedals, replacement strings, rosin, reeds for wind instruments, picks, drumsticks, training guides, and music software.

Who is this business right for?

It helps tremendously if the business owner has a love of music in many styles. It is important to be able to work well with all types of customers, no matter what level of musical expertise they have, including those just starting to learn as well as top professionals.

Most musical instrument stores are fairly noisy environments with customers trying out the equipment/instruments that they are thinking about buying. You will have to be comfortable dealing with all the sounds that are ongoing during the store’s operations. The outgoing cacophony might include a guy banging on a drum set, another wailing on an electric guitar, and another blasting out on a tuba.

What happens during a typical day at a musical instrument store?

First and foremost, your job is to sell musical instruments and accessories. Also, as the business owner you will need to make sure the store is clean, the inventory records are accurate, the cash register(s) have enough change, the marketing campaign is ongoing, inventory and supplies are replenished as needed, and the staff shows up on time to manage the operations. 

What is the target market?

Your primary customers are parents looking to get their kids into music and music enthusiasts.

How does a musical instrument store make money?

A retail musical instrument shop buys at wholesale prices and then marks up the price by an average of 40% to sell to consumers. For example, the wholesale price of a quality guitar might be $300 and that guitar would sell for $420, giving the store $120 in profit. By selling goods to customers at a marked up price, they cover the cost that they spent on the goods while also earning a profit. Many musical instruments are pricy, so the opportunity to make profit is high. 

What is the growth potential for a musical instrument store?

There are some very successful national chains, such as the Guitar Center. Many business owners start with a single location and then expand to multiple locations. It helps to be located in a town with lots of high school or college students who could be potential customers.

Competition is very severe in the major metropolitan areas known for music, such as Los Angeles and Nashville, so it may be easier to start in a smaller market area with the first store. If there is a local music academy or a school with a major music program that is a good area to consider.