- Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:17 pm
This conversation comes up every few years, and I think I roll out a similar response every few years, but am happy to do so again.
For anybody new(ish) to the forum, I spent more than a decade as a senior manager at NZ Rockshop, and currently am the Australia/NZ Sales Manager for Roland & BOSS. I also sit on the executive committee of the Australian Music Association (Australia's counterpart to NAMM). I don't profess to know everything, but I reckon I'm fairly well placed to comment on this particular subject.
Living in NZ, people involved in "niche" hobbies/professions (e.g. guitar players) will never be able to enjoy the same product range as in larger economies like USA, Western Europe and some of the more wealthy Asian countries. Quite simply, there isn't the population / customer base to support it.
Consider this: every year at the NAMM show, it is a common complaint to hear that the USA market is oversupplied with product variation - i.e. there are "too many" guitar, amp and pedal manufacturers competing for business, that very few are able to make a profit.
Thanks to the power of modern marketing (i.e. the internet) now any guitar player in any backwater corner of the world (e.g. AU/NZ) has THE SAME level of information as a USA consumer. A NZ customer can now see (and lust after) literally any pedal, cable, amp, power supply, guitar or accessory made in any guy's backyard, learn all about it, listen to soundclips, and (quite naturally) start obsessing over owning one. From that, comes a desire to see one at their local store - and start up conversations like this one when they can't find it.
Now add to your consideration that the overall size of the NZ music market is somewhere approaching 1% of the USA market....which makes it less than half a percent of the global market. When the USA market is complaining of being overcrowded with product, how do you reckon that translates to NZ? I'll tell you. It is absolutely impossible (and getting harder) to stock enough equipment to make everyone happy.
Let's say that you've found on the internet some kind of non-mainstream product that EXACTLY fits your needs. You talk to your local Rockshop, and they don't have it - but will look into getting it for you. Perhaps you've got a great idea, and RS like the idea of stocking this product. The next step is for them to look at the viability, as there are MANY hurdles; including negotiating vendor agreements, minimum order qty's, production lead times and shipping logistics....to name just a few. All to take a gamble on being able to sell enough of them to turn a profit, when in fact it could end up being a product that only you and one other guy in NZ is willing to buy. It's important to stop and consider that as perfect as a piece of gear might be for you...YOU MAY BE THE ONLY ONE!!!
For a company such as Rockshop, Music Works etc to invest in stocking a product line, there HAS to be profitability in it. Sadly, there are precious few "boutique" products that can deliver genuine profitability to a NZ business (believe me, I've tried to get many cool brands going in NZ that simply didn't have enough demand to be viable). Over the years, there have been MANY operators who have started businesses with a focus on stocking "cool" product that you can't see at Rockshop/Music Works etc. They have all, without exception I can think of, gone out of business - usually in a cataclysmic fashion.
Somebody earlier in the thread mentioned Guitar Center. Have you ever been in any GC that is not the Hollywood Store? That is their flagship store and intentionally overstocked with as much cool stuff as they can find. All the other stores....mmmmm not so much. In my opinion (biased as it may be), the average Rockshop is a better shopping experience than the average GC. I think that sometimes people have these conversations with rose-tinted glasses on. There are few global chains in the world that carry the same diversity of range as NZ Rockshop. Yes, there are a few independent stores that carry a drool-inducing range of gear.....but there are precious few of them anywhere, and most of THESE are struggling to exist in the highly competitive MI market today.
What I'm trying to say is....you've actually got it pretty good in NZ. The quality of MI retail there for the microscopic size of the market is actually rather impressive (and well known as such throughout the global MI industry).
TL;DR: NZ's product range on the ground is actually pretty good when compared with any but a tiny number of stores worldwide. The perception of "all products in every store" in the USA is simply not real, and the product range you CAN get here is staggering, given the microscopic size of the NZ market (less than 0.5% of the global market).
"Volume is tone" - EVH
Electrics: ESP/Fender/Gibson/.strandberg*/Washburn/Music Man/Knaggs/Squier/Vintage/
Acoustic: Cole Clark/Godin/Takamine/Taylor
Amps: BOSS Katana Head / Soldano SLO100