, Salem, MA


November 7, 2012

Drumming up business

Local music shops have been dying out, but young couple hopes to buck the trend

BEVERLY — Nathan Morrison was driving along Rantoul Street when he saw a sign that caught his eye — Joe’s Drum Shop.

As a drummer who worked in a drum shop in Maine, Morrison knew how rare it was to see a local music store. He stopped his car, walked up to the door and saw that it was closed.

“I thought it was a shame,” he said.

He soon learned that the shop’s longtime owner, Joe Winokur, had died in 2008 and the shop had closed in 2010. He contacted Winokur’s widow, Ellen, setting in motion a chain of events that led to Morrison and his wife purchasing the business.

On Oct. 13, the store reopened as The Drum Shop North Shore. And with it, the Morrisons took on the daunting challenge of running a local music store in a changing industry.

“It’s survival of the fittest,” said Larry Ouellette of Paul Ouellette & Sons Pianos in Salem. “The smaller you are, the less likely you are to survive.”

The biggest challenges facing local music stores come from large national chains like Guitar Center and from online sales. Donn Carr ran a drum shop in Peabody for 35 years but had to shut it down due to competition from Guitar Center and Daddy’s Junky Music.

Carr said he could match the prices of the big stores but not the inventory.

“They would have what I had in every color and every size,” he said. “I had a good price, and the customer would compare it to Guitar Center. They would match the price and would have it in stock, while I had to order it. I couldn’t handle that.”

Carr reinvented his business as the Donn Carr School of Music & Performance Center, where he offers lessons in guitar, bass, drums and piano. Selling instruments is only a small part of his business.

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