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12/28/2003

Guitar shop tuning up for the big move

By Tony Kindelspire
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — One of the biggest empty spaces in the downtown area soon will be empty no more.

Guitars, etc. is moving into the 16,000-square-foot former home of Daily Office Plus, more than tripling the store’s space and giving downtown one of the largest such stores in the metro area.

“It’s 99 percent usable space as it is, we just have to build 10 teaching rooms,” said Todd Skaw, owner of Guitars, etc.

The company’s current store is only 3,300 square feet, but the store still manages about 300 lessons a week out of its five teaching rooms.

“We intend to double our teaching,” Skaw said. “We’ve had many opportunities to hire other teachers, but we just don’t have the ability to house them here.”

With a mirrored wall holding about 300 electric guitars, and another smaller room housing about 100 acoustic, Skaw has been able to make the current space work well for him in the six years the store has been downtown. In the new space, though, he’ll have infinitely more room for his current stock and a lot more.

“I think the 460 Main St. building will be the greatest presentation in the state of Colorado,” Skaw said. “I’ve never seen an independent music store have such a great space.

“If you went upstairs (in our current location), we house over 100 band instruments, but no room to display them.”

Full drum kits can be set up in the new store, and a lot more guitars will be displayed. Quadrupling the amount of PA equipment Guitars, etc. stocks also is in the plans.

As successful as his present brick-and-mortar location at 439 Main St. has been for him, Skaw said sales in cyberspace account for an incredible 50 percent of his business.

“I’m selling a bass (guitar) to a lady in Knoxville, Tenn., as we speak,” Skaw said one morning last week as he worked on his e-mail while a visitor looked around the store. A few minutes later, he called the visitor over to show him another e-mail: “Hi, I’m living in France (near Paris),” it read, “and I would like to buy a Gibson Les Paul.”

“Everyday, all day long,” Skaw said with a grin.

“Ten years ago, if somebody said, ‘You’ll be selling over $1 million a year just on the Internet,’ I would have said, ‘What’s the Internet?’”

Skaw said one of the big advantages for Guitars, etc.’s Web site — www
.guitarsetc.net — is that it offers photographs of every instrument the store sells from several different angles. All the photography, and the Web site itself, is done in-house, keeping that aspect of the overhead down, and the photos give the customer a clear look at the actual instrument they would be buying — something other online music stores don’t do, he said.

Skaw, who has a second, 3,500-square-foot store in Fort Collins, said the move to the new building — which he intends to buy — will be his fourth and final move in Longmont. But not only should it be a great addition to the downtown, it should be great for business.

Either way, it’s a long way from where it all began.

“I started 10 years ago selling strings out of a briefcase to my guitar students,” Skaw said.

Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 291, or by e-mail at tkindelspire@times-call.com.