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Originally Posted by EinLudov
The inventory issue is a blip relative to the general trend, as I've said in the other post, the underlying factors causing the decline in piano playing has not changed due to the pandemic.

Agreed.

I fear that there will be some medium-term impact from the past year's brisk sales.

The number of people who would never have bought a piano but for the pandemic is probably relatively low. How many of our stories include something to the effect of "I always wanted to try (or get back to) the piano, and finally did?" I have a hunch that the pandemic accelerated the purchasing plans of a lot of people who fall into the "some day" category, and to an extent, now that that has happened, there will be a decrease in what would have been future sales spread more widely across the next few years.

IOW, this year's increased sales are probably at the expense of future sales.

And, as others have noted, there may be additional used pianos in the market as people realize they don't like it, or the kids don't take to it.


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A "trend" is something that has been consistent for a number of years, as EinLudov says. A sudden one year jump in sales is not a "trend" - it could just be an anomaly. If this uptick continues for the next few years, then yes, that is a trend. But just because sales went up in a one year timeframe (2019 to 2020), you can't call that a "trend".

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Originally Posted by sharra
A "trend" is something that has been consistent for a number of years, as EinLudov says. A sudden one year jump in sales is not a "trend" - it could just be an anomaly. If this uptick continues for the next few years, then yes, that is a trend. But just because sales went up in a one year timeframe (2019 to 2020), you can't call that a "trend".
I never said anything was a trend.

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Originally Posted by GnGEmpire
Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
Have you played a new Kawai grand or are you buying it on its reputation alone?

Hi Steve,

It's somewhere in the middle.
I tried a GL40. Loved the action, tone was not quite refined enough. It was the closest thing the dealer had to a GX3 and in order to get to try one i'd have to travel abroad.
I know the GX line is supposed to be a little more refined, and the extra 8 centimetres of length should both contribute to that.
Also listened to some GX 2/3 sound samples on youtube.
I'm not 100% comfortable with ordering one blindly but since they are a production piano with a high degree of consistency, there would be less variability.

With the exception of Kawai, so far I did not like enough the action of other instruments that I have tried.

So you have no problem taking advantage of the dealer's showroom, staff and inventory, but post a thread intended to bypass the dealer???

We are not publicly funded!

Piano Dealership's ability to survive depends solely on the income produced through sales.


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Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
So you have no problem taking advantage of the dealer's showroom, staff and inventory, but post a thread intended to bypass the dealer???

We are not publicly funded!

Piano Dealership's ability to survive depends solely on the income produced through sales.

From the consumer end, everyone wants cheaper prices. People demo tvs at bestbuy and buy from amazon. You've probably done this yourself.

This is an entire sector shift of shopping habits. We are moving away from the dealership system as a society, because people really don't enjoy the negotiations and the ambiguous prices. It's a business model that's on its way out.

Totally get that you're offended by the thread but, there is a bigger picture, and a very real reason why people equate the dealership experiences with getting teeth pulled. Over-time I believe factories will have to directly take over. grin

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Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
Originally Posted by GnGEmpire
Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
Have you played a new Kawai grand or are you buying it on its reputation alone?

Hi Steve,

It's somewhere in the middle.
I tried a GL40. Loved the action, tone was not quite refined enough. It was the closest thing the dealer had to a GX3 and in order to get to try one i'd have to travel abroad.
I know the GX line is supposed to be a little more refined, and the extra 8 centimetres of length should both contribute to that.
Also listened to some GX 2/3 sound samples on youtube.
I'm not 100% comfortable with ordering one blindly but since they are a production piano with a high degree of consistency, there would be less variability.

With the exception of Kawai, so far I did not like enough the action of other instruments that I have tried.

So you have no problem taking advantage of the dealer's showroom, staff and inventory, but post a thread intended to bypass the dealer???

We are not publicly funded!

Piano Dealership's ability to survive depends solely on the income produced through sales.

Wrong.

Would have much preferred to buy it from the dealer's showroom. For me as a buyer this is the biggest and main value a dealer can provide.

Can't help it if the dealer doesn't keep these model in stock

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Originally Posted by GnGEmpire
Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
Originally Posted by GnGEmpire
Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
Have you played a new Kawai grand or are you buying it on its reputation alone?

Hi Steve,

It's somewhere in the middle.
I tried a GL40. Loved the action, tone was not quite refined enough. It was the closest thing the dealer had to a GX3 and in order to get to try one i'd have to travel abroad.
I know the GX line is supposed to be a little more refined, and the extra 8 centimetres of length should both contribute to that.
Also listened to some GX 2/3 sound samples on youtube.
I'm not 100% comfortable with ordering one blindly but since they are a production piano with a high degree of consistency, there would be less variability.

With the exception of Kawai, so far I did not like enough the action of other instruments that I have tried.

So you have no problem taking advantage of the dealer's showroom, staff and inventory, but post a thread intended to bypass the dealer???

We are not publicly funded!

Piano Dealership's ability to survive depends solely on the income produced through sales.

Wrong.

Would have much preferred to buy it from the dealer's showroom. For me as a buyer this is the biggest and main value a dealer can provide.

Can't help it if the dealer doesn't keep these model in stock

That does ring a bit hollow. If you have decided you want a particular piano your dealer does not stock and are committed to buying one I would expect the dealer to be more than willing to bring one in for you.

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Gwing


Yes he would, if I placed an order for it through him. He was not willing to bring it into stock without me placing an order/commiting to buy it.

So in the case where the dealer provides no added value like allowing me to try the instrument before commiting, what is it exactly do I owe him? Makes no sense

Not that any of this matters, since by now I have already learned the manufacturer won't go around the dealer

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So, you availed yourself of the dealer and learned you like the action. The dealer paid the rent, insurance, taxes, financing, staffing and other expenses that he made available to you so that you discovered the Kawai action, but feel this has no value. And if your piano has a defect, you will expect the dealer who has sole jurisdiction to administer warranty will, at his expense, come to help. And you claim there is no value ro this and therefore feel fine bypassing him. I disagree.

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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
So, you availed yourself of the dealer and learned you like the action. The dealer paid the rent, insurance, taxes, financing, staffing and other expenses that he made available to you so that you discovered the Kawai action, but feel this has no value. And if your piano has a defect, you will expect the dealer who has sole jurisdiction to administer warranty will, at his expense, come to help. And you claim there is no value ro this and therefore feel fine bypassing him. I disagree.

Makes no sense.

"Rent, insurance, taxes, financing, staffing and other expenses", wow wow, take it easy, I hope the dealer didn't find out he had to pay all these AFTER the store was opened.

I don't think the OP ever claimed the dealer didn't provide value, but how much value? Is it that a customer must commit to buying through the dealer before placing an order, otherwise he is "claiming there is no value to this and therefore feel fine bypassing the dealer", is this what you're claiming?

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Originally Posted by noyes
I don't think the OP ever claimed the dealer didn't provide value, but how much value? Is it that a customer must commit to buying through the dealer before placing an order, otherwise he is "claiming there is no value to this and therefore feel fine bypassing the dealer", is this what you're claiming?
It's standard practice in the piano industry for a customer to commit to buying a piano a dealer is special ordering for them. Otherwise, the dealer could be stuck with the piano.

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All retail businesses have tire kickers. That's just the way it is.

John Q. Public is not obligated to fund any dealer, nor to ensure any dealers' survival.

The notion that a customer has incurred an obligation simply by visiting a dealer is ridiculous. Perhaps dealers who believe this contemptuous notion should themselves be upfront and honest with customers: "if you visit my shop, then you're required to buy from me."

Those who don't like the way the game is played should find another game to play.


Last time I checked it was still a free market. Shoppers should be able to seek their best option without being smeared by those with clearly conflicting interests.


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Piano Manufactures should adopt the Steinway model on steroids. Pay for the piano up front and visit a showroom with a two dozen or so models that you purchased, and pick your piano.

That way the risk to the purchaser is minimized vs forcing them to buy one sight unseen that may not have the touch\tone they prefer.

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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
So, you availed yourself of the dealer and learned you like the action. The dealer paid the rent, insurance, taxes, financing, staffing and other expenses that he made available to you so that you discovered the Kawai action, but feel this has no value. And if your piano has a defect, you will expect the dealer who has sole jurisdiction to administer warranty will, at his expense, come to help. And you claim there is no value ro this and therefore feel fine bypassing him. I disagree.

Who says I would expect the dealer to provide warranty service on their own expense if he would have had no side in the transaction? That would be ridiculous.

If the manufacture was infact willing to sell directly, which they aren't, I'd expect them to find a way to fullfill the warranty. Either by paying the dealer to do it, or commissioning another local technician.

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Originally Posted by GnGEmpire
Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
So, you availed yourself of the dealer and learned you like the action. The dealer paid the rent, insurance, taxes, financing, staffing and other expenses that he made available to you so that you discovered the Kawai action, but feel this has no value. And if your piano has a defect, you will expect the dealer who has sole jurisdiction to administer warranty will, at his expense, come to help. And you claim there is no value ro this and therefore feel fine bypassing him. I disagree.

Who says I would expect the dealer to provide warranty service on their own expense if he would have had no side in the transaction? That would be ridiculous.

If the manufacture was infact willing to sell directly, which they aren't, I'd expect them to find a way to fullfill the warranty. Either by paying the dealer to do it, or commissioning another local technician.

They are legally bound to the dealer who makes commitments to the manufacturer and can only refer service to the dealer. If you buy out of channel you're on your own. If you negotiated a good price, go for it. Their tech will look after you properly

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You must be kidding.


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Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
You must be kidding.


I think that there’s actually a lot of wisdom in TBell’s post.


Here is an informative Dartmouth University case study:

Strengthening the Distribution Channel at Steinway & Sons.

Page 6 notes that properly representing Steinway “requires a lot of inventory.” Why? Because to properly represent the manufacturer, you need to carry the manufacturer’s products. Model X won’t sell as well as it could if dealers don’t keep it in stock.

As relates to this thread, the dealer doesn’t have the model the OP wants, so the dealer clearly isn’t representing the buyer’s interests either. In fact, the dealer would be shifting his risk onto the buyer, who must incur more cost by traveling to a distant place to try it, and/or incur more risk by buying it without trying it at all. The dealer would extract his pound of flesh, but other than filling out the order form, what value is the dealer bringing to the equation? If the customer has to shoulder more risk, why shouldn't they also endeavor to keep more of the reward? Why shouldn’t they buy it directly?

So, if the “dealer” doesn’t fully or effectively represent the company or the buyer, then who’s interests do they represent? Well, obviously their own. Guilt-trippy talk about keeping the lights on “for you” is misdirection. Dealers who only carry best sellers, or an otherwise streamlined inventory, are not best representing the interests of their manufacturers or their potential clients.

To get back to TBell’s astute observations, the study also notes that Steinway's dealership numbers had been cut in half since the 1980's (hey, there's that year again...). Steinway noted that only strong, profitable dealers could both survive and effectively represent them, in part because they could afford to present a distinct, full inventory.

But… that study was 15 years ago, and is now somewhat outdated as Steinway’s distribution has continued to evolve. It points out that Steinway had already started to vertically integrate, and notes that this strategy had served both Yamaha and Young Chang well.

In the interim, as we all know, Steinway has started to consolidate and integrate the retail sales channel too. And it makes sense. If, for example, there’s a solid profit to be made selling pianos in San Francisco, why shouldn’t Steinway keep that profit themselves? Why maintain a distribution model that evolved in our great-grandparents’ time? Traveling from NYC to San Francisco is no longer a grueling multi-day trek by train. We now have same-day travel, instantaneous communication, efficient supply chain management and just-in-time inventory.

The piano market is mature. And well known. Established manufacturers don’t need the help of retailers to open new markets, to increase their production, like they did 100 years ago. In fact, the market in western society is beyond mature. It’s slowly dying.

As noted above and in the case study, the number of Steinway dealers reduced by half. The industry has contracted significantly, not just Steinway. We note here frequently that for vast swaths of North America, shopping for a piano requires significant travel. It’s become a destination activity. Shoppers head to various big cities that still have enough local demand to support a few piano retailers.

Some dealers have adapted to the changes and embraced these shoppers, even reaching out to them. Kudos to them for being visionary!

Consider these changes from the manufacturer’s perspective (especially manufacturer’s who’ve already demonstrated that they’d rather keep the retail markup for themselves). If Ma and Pa Kettle in Sioux Falls have to toss and coin and choose between San Francisco or NYC to shop, does the dealer in the destination territory necessarily “deserve” the markup? After all, neither territory includes the Dakotas, right?

Why shouldn't the manufacturer make the retail sale? They'd earn more money, perhaps even after hypothetically offering the Kettle’s a travel allowance, and flying a tech to Sioux Falls for the first tuning. What the heck…they can even throw in tickets to the latest Broadway show! Or tickets to Disney World (or whatever the nearby attraction is).

I’ve mentioned this before, but I think the future for piano retailing in North America will be company-owned regional (or national) warehouse/distribution centers with retail showrooms for giving customers the full-court-press (with copious inventory that even includes the rare model X). Imagine shopping for your piano in a destination city, like Las Vegas, Orlando, etc! Take a vacation. Pick out your piano. Buy some T-shirts. Head home.


People walking in their granddaddy's footsteps might not see it, but I think TBell has caught a glimpse of the future: the Steinway model on steroids! thumb


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There already is vertical integration. The Kawai showroom in Houston is factory owned.

https://www.kawaipianoshouston.com/company/

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Originally Posted by spk
There already is vertical integration. The Kawai showroom in Houston is factory owned.

https://www.kawaipianoshouston.com/company/

Interesting. I was not aware of that one.

Steinway already has more than a dozen: https://www.steinway.com/about/showrooms


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How many stores would Kawai have to open? Yamaha, Baldwin? Young Chang? M&H? Pearl River?

Would they carry multiple brands? New and used, or try to make it on their brand alone?

What would be the capital outlay for each of them? (They have to afford carrying the inventory, and carpet and decorate all those stores. And they'd have to be big stores...after all you was at least 4-5 of each model.)

How are they funding the the opening costs and opening inventory? $30,000+ buildout and about $250,000 inventory for EACH STORE? Would there be a Kawai store in Chicago? Houston? Dallas? Boston? Philly?, DC?, Richmond? Atlanta? Miami?. Tampa? Maine?, Wisconsin? Delaware?, NC?. ,,, and what about the western US...you know...California...

I could go on, but I'm too busy laughing.


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