Guitar World Blows Smoke at Musicians!

“I foresee a revival in 3-4 years that puts them toe-to-toe with Sweetwater”

Mat Owen, Guitar World – July 4, 2024

Retail Dive reports that Gonher Music Center has emerged as the court-approved buyer – having lodged an offer of $15.2 million to secure a selection of Sam Ash’s wholesale and online assets.

OK, so Sam Ash has been purchased by “Gonher Music Center” according to news reports. And they’re likely to be as big as Sweetwater or Guitar Center in a few years, according to some news reports.

Believe it?

A bit of investigating turns up that “Gonher Music Center” is actually “Gonher Instrumentos Musicales” of Mexico. Must be a huge, profitable instrument business to be buying Sam Ash, right? Especially if places like Guitar World are saying they’ll be as big as Sweetwater in a few years, right?

I bet you’d like to see what Gohner Instrumentos Musicales looks like, eh? Close your eyes…wait for it…here ya go –

Look out, Sweetwater! Gonher’s gunnin’ fer ya!

Doesn’t look exactly like the type of business with $15 mil to toss around, does it? It’s not like the music instrument industry is one of Mexico’s biggest cash cows. I wonder what is the big cash industry in Mexico? Computer chips? No. Lumber? No. Hmmm..

And are Sam Ash assets worth $15 million? If someone were to offer me all of Sam Ash physical assets for FREE – I’d say, “No thanks!”

Think about it – the good stuff’s been picked over by now. What’s left is sitting in stores where the rent may not have been paid since March. Ya think the landlords’ gonna just let you take it?

And what if they would? What would it cost to go around the country and collect all those instruments and displays, transport them to your location and store them? Now you have to get everything in saleable order, advertise and – oh wait – it isn’t practical to try and get customers to come to a warehouse. You’ll need a retail location.

Can you see how this could quickly cost more money than you could ever hope to recoup?

So why would anyone pay fifteen million, let alone a business that doesn’t exactly appear to be prospering already???

One more thing, Retail Dive said “.. the opportunity for some Sam Ash employees to transfer to working for Gonher “reflects what has made Sam Ash a renowned brand for over 100 years: its deep care for its people.” 

I went to a Sam Ash store to buy displays when they were selling out. I dealt with a gentleman who said he was from the home office. I paid in cash and he stuffed that cash in his shirt pocket. Over the course of maybe an hour, I purchased several items and the wad of cash in his shirt pocket grew.

When leaving, I said that I felt bad for the employees who were losing their jobs with no more notice than the general public received. His response nearly floored me. He spewed such vitriol about employees who “overstayed their lunch breaks”, “arrived late to work”, and went on and on. He ended up saying, with a tone of anger and bitterness, that they didn’t deserve better!

So, it seems maybe Guitar World isn’t the only source “blowing smoke” at musicians!

Digital Assets?

Sam Ash had one of the worst websites of all the music instrument retailers. For years, they refused to invest serious money into an online presence. At one time, when a consultant pointed out a serious vulnerability in their website that exposed not only their server, but passwords saved in text files offering serious access to anyone who barely probed their defenses – they refused his offer to repair the breach and show them how to better secure the website!

I know dozens of musicians. They talk about buying from Sweetwater and MusiciansFriend online, but I’ve never heard anyone talk about buying from the website. Not once.

Any value that came from the name Sam Ash, was derived from the knowledge that this was a century-old family-run business, not from having a great online presence.

Knowing this, you have to wonder what that name is worth now that we all know the family is no longer involved and that a foreign-owned business has purchased their assets.

There has to be more to this story than what news sites and Guitar World are telling us. One thing I can tell you for sure – Gohner Instrumentos Musicales is no threat to Sweetwater or Guitar Center!

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