July 21, 2020 I MI Editor I by Daniel Margolis

On Competition

Our cover subject for this month’s issue of Music Inc., C.A. House Music, a store with locations in St. Clairsville, Zanesville and Lancaster, Ohio, as well as Parkersburg, West Virginia, is a music retailer reaching rural customers that others can’t — at least via a physical location.

C.A. House Music’s Business Development Manager Melissa Ceo, who capably serves as the company’s public face, commented on the advantages and disadvantages of a lack of brick-and-mortar competition.

“It’s always good to have healthy competition because it makes you be on your toes and not be complacent,” she said. “There are pros and cons to it, but I try to keep myself motivated.”

Speaking to Music Inc. via phone in late June from the company’s office in St. Clairsville, Ceo laid out what location does for C.A. House Music.

“For us, we’re in a little bit of a unique position,” she said. “Lancaster and Zanesville, not quite as much, but we see this for St. Clairsville and Parkersburg that we’re the only brick-and-mortar, retail music instrument business in our service areas. You have to go about 45 minutes to Washington, Pennsylvania, to really hit another music store.

“Having the students in the store, seeing the instruments, it really does help us drive sales, because there’s nothing like playing the instrument, hearing the tone and being able to take it home that day.”

This doesn’t mean C.A. House Music can slack in its online sales department, though. It might not be pushing toward 150 years in business if it did. “Our biggest competitor is really online,” Ceo said.

Interestingly, the pandemic placed many retailers in the position of a rural store, facing e-commerce as it’s largest competitor. The massive increase of online sales during the quarantine has been nothing short of remarkable, something we explored in our July cover story, a special section on MI reemerging from the pandemic. This resonated with readers not just on the retail side but on the supply side as well. Antonio Campanella, vice president of marketing with CE Distribution, wrote in this issue, on page 11, saying that “one possible upside is that businesses got their online sales squared away as a result” of current events.

But beyond online sales, one thing the pandemic has shown us is that our biggest rival may be ourselves — sometimes we need to depart from our old ways of doing things. Across all industries, people are discovering new ways of doing business that are more than just efficient, they’re refreshing. Technologies quickly implemented during coronavirus, like those explored in this month’s feature on page 32, “Nine New Pieces Of Retail Tech For COVID-19 And Beyond,” are becoming permanent as people find that things like progressive management software and contactless payment methods just work, whether there’s a virus or not.

Every industry vertical will look different going forward, MI included. But hopefully the broad sense of competition that pandemic engendered brings change that places us in a healthier position than ever. MI

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