By Thomas Byrne
Yesterday afternoon I received a message from a friend who works for Daddy's Junky Music. The message read simply: "Daddy's is gone."
Earlier this year, Daddy's was forced to shut several of it's stores in an effort to trim costs and become more lean. Yesterday, financial realities forced Daddy's to close all remaining stores permanently, with liquidation likely occurring over the coming weeks. In sum, Daddy's is gone, after serving NE for nearly 40 years, and after having become one of the top musical instrument retailers in the entire US.
I spent a bit of time at Daddy's as a kid, which is where I met Real School co-founder, Mike Abbott. Such was Daddy's success that, in the late 80's, Daddy's founder Fred Bramante, along with his VP Chris Gleason and GM David Wright, were actually featured on the cover of "Inc. Magazine." Daddy's was the poster child of the MI industry, leading to Fred's position of president of NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants), and his eventually run for Governor of NH.
Daddy's early success was driven primarily by product exclusivity (remember, there was a time when you couldn't go into a music store and play both a new Fender AND a new Gibson - it would be like pulling into a car dealership and test-driving a new Chevy and a new Ford). Daddy's owned the regional franchises for names like Mesa Boogie, Peavey, and many other highly profitable brands that no other local dealer could carry. Daddy's also quite literally built their business on "used" gear, with the greatest selection of used and vintage instruments in the country. But, alas, the internet changed everything. For Daddy's, it was the end of product exclusivity (you can now buy any brand online), and it was the end of Daddy's dominance in the used market (eBay and craigslist changed the landscape of the used instrument market). People would try new gear at Daddy's, but then buy online from some CA-based company for $25 less. And used gear from all over the world was now available with a few clicks of the mouse.
In some ways, it's remarkable that Daddy's survived as long as they did, competing with the two 800 lb gorillas in the room (the behemoth that is Guitar Center, and the Internet). This is a testament to their firmly entrenched market position, and the integrity of their original vision. But in the end, it just wasn't enough.
Last night, scores of Daddy's employees drove home to tell their loved ones they were out of a job. These are good, hard-working people, many of whom have been with Daddy's for decades, and who today have suffered a great hardship by joining the ranks of the millions of Americans who are now out-of-work. Please keep these people in your thoughts and prayers, as many of these folks are in for a rough spell.
And join me in lifting a glass to Daddy's Junky Music -- their vision, their mark.. and to the future prospects of all their good employees. Cheers!