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20 Years of Adaptation

Stoughton Music Center celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2008, but according to owner Robert Tarchara, it didn’t come without serious foresight.

“I’ve stayed in business by adapting to the times,” he said, citing Internet competition cutting into his once-burgeoning high-end guitar business and print music selection.

More recently, Tarchara opted to refocus his Stoughton, Mass.-based, full-line dealership on the student market, competing with a greater selection of entry-level gear, instrument rentals and a 300-student lesson program. His guitar selection, for instance, now hovers in the $150–$400 range. “We don’t have anything over $400,” Tarchara said.

He has also cut his print music selection dramatically due to increased online print retailers. Tarchara said that three years ago he carried $50,000 worth of print and devoted a full room to the product segment. He now carries a cherry-picked, $5,000 selection, and he leases the print room to the business next door.

In terms of his day-to-day operations, Tarchara has made some changes that have produced surprising results.

“I changed my hours, so I don’t open until 2:00 Monday through Thursday,” he said. “So I eliminated 10 hours off the schedule for employee wages, electricity and heat. And my [sales] numbers did not change.”

Tarchara, a jazz musician who has penned several music methods and instruction books, founded Stoughton Music Center to supplement his income as a gigging player. He moved into Stoughton Music’s current store in 1993 after his lesson program began to grow. The current location is roughly 2,400 square feet.

“To survive in this business, you have to keep the atmosphere fun and positive,” he said to the Stoughton Journal. “These days, kids have many activities — music is just one of them. For us, we just want to make the experience for them as pleasant as possible, and I think we do that. We have a great teaching staff, and we love what we do.” MI