• An Update - A Pandemic Supply and Demand Story

    An Update to Out of Stock - A Pandemic Supply and Demand Story

    Three months ago we published Out of Stock - A Pandemic Supply and Demand Story, a story in the words of store owners that surveyed seven different retailers with differing types of inventory about how the pandemic had changed their way of doing business.

    This past week we wanted to check back to ask for an update. This is their story, six retailers who weighed in with their views of their businesses in the pandemic.

    Fiddler's Green Music Shop
    Fiddler's Green Music Shop
    For Fiddler's Green the inventory story remains about the same. We have been fortunate lately in the used instrument market to be able to obtain some very nice collections, but really the actual pace of people approaching us with trades or to buy instruments is very slow.

    The new instrument pipeline seems like it MAY be improving slightly, but that could just be that we have recently started to see some (or at least part of some) of the orders that we placed many months ago. I suppose the true test will be how soon we get the rest and what re-ordering looks like. I think it's really too soon to tell on that front, but I am hopeful.

    We are fortunate that we are making sales, and when most things come in they go very fast, but it still feels wrong that our "on the wall" inventory just isnít anywhere near the level and selection that we would like it to be. On any given day, the in-store shopping experience just does not compare at all with the past in terms of selection.

    I hear it from repeat customers, and I always cringe. I look forward to the day when we can be truly proud of our selection again. Until then, we will just keep trying to do our best!

    Carter Vintage Guitars
    Carter Vintage Guitars
    The bad news is we're not seeing any difference in mandolin supply or demand over the last 90 days.

    The good news is we're still getting in used and vintage pieces, from Gibson A models to Gilchrists, Nuggets and Loars, so it's hard to complain!

    Elderly Instruments
    Elderly Instruments
    New retail availability is not much changed in the last few months. Some things better and some worse.

    Many manufacturers are backed up with orders well into next year. We've had a little luck with some new brands and are looking for more.

    Also, many used and vintage instruments come and go so quickly that they don't last very long on our website. Now is a good time to sell, trade or consign us your guitars, mandolins, banjos and more.

    The Mandolin Store
    The Mandolin Store
    The flow of inventory into our retail has not improved, and to my mind has actually gotten worse the past 90 days.

    It's pretty well known that manufacturing lost a good number of trained workers during the pandemic. You don't just go out and find qualified folks or move them to take jobs. A lot of areas where instruments are being built are really expensive to live.

    Any company building guitars and mandolins we carry has a choice to concentrate their efforts, and it appears they're choosing guitars. Most tell me, or it appears they made the#decision, that guitars are driving their#bottom line more than mandolins. Not surprising.

    Only Gibson and Northfield have ramped up mandolin production but that's a small part of the overall mandolin market. Eastman is still seriously backlogged and I can't predict when that will correct itself. For now it's business as the new NOT normal.

    Denver Folklore Center
    Denver Folklore Center
    People in our area are getting out more - to restaurants, vacations, concerts and social gatherings. While during the heat of the pandemic disposable income was hard to dispose of, today people are spending in all directions.

    As a result, our sales over the last 8-10 weeks look more like pre-pandemic levels than the surge of the previous year or so.

    While there are some signs that the supply chains for acoustic instruments are opening up, most manufacturers are still way behind in both production and delivery. The boutique builders we like are taking orders for late 2022 and 2023 while the "big boys" are finally shipping us instruments we ordered in early 2020.

    If the Delta variant sends people back into isolation we could see an uptick in sales and our displays will, once again, be lean.

    The Music Emporium
    The Music Emporium
    Business is still booming. Some inventory levels are starting to build up and demand may have waned slightly. But if things shut down again, who knows?!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Bob Buckingham's Avatar
      Bob Buckingham -
      I checked with some local stores in SC and NC and yes the used market is strong and the new inventory is not all it could be. There is a lot of interest but the price increases are making folks think a little longer before moving.
    1. Mandobar's Avatar
      Mandobar -
      The price increases are here to stay. The pool of builders has shrunk and with everyone staying close to home there’s more time for playing music in small settings. Lots of newcomers up playing too. Both my nieces have started playing in the last year. They are both well employed and wanted good instruments to learn on.