Music shoppers in the Tri-State are lucky to have some great mom and pop shops. To name just a few, there are Opus 1 and The Musician’s Den in Evansville, and Abba Music in Henderson, Kentucky. Then there’s the granddaddy of local shops, Moore Music on Morgan Avenue in Evansville. Armed with a brand new look, a stunning inventory, and a state of the art recording studio, Moore Music is perched to bridge the gap between local and regional.
“We want to be a destination, a place you’ll drive a couple of hours to because you know what we have is great and you know we will treat you like one of us,” says owner Brett Mulzer.
Those in local bands live for gear and spend lots of time in local music stores. They shop on the Internet doing research and then head to the stores to see the items in person. This makes it difficult for the local shops, which must deal with the big box center in the strip mall, with its name recognition and huge inventory. And then there’s the Internet, offering instant gratification 24 hours a day with virtually an infinite offering of guitars, gadgets, and hard to find boutique items.
But there’s something that local stores provide that others don’t: relationships. That’s what keeps most players coming back.
Pat Moore, who originally opened the store, always had a nice shop with great stuff. He focused on knowledge and customer service. It worked for decades. Mulzer came into the picture when he bought the building from Moore, renting the retail space back to him and putting a recording studio in the back of the building. When it became clear that Moore was edging toward retirement, Mulzer bought the store as well. Now he has put his energy into building his dream store and hired recording savant Patrick Preston of Evansville to run the studio.
He’s invested in some much in demand gear — Paul Reed Smith, Fender, Mesa Boogie, Martin, it goes on and on.
“If you want to buy a Fender, we’ve got 100 of 20 (different types) of them here,” says Mulzer. “If you make the investment to drive here, either in town or from an hour and a half away, you’re going to find what you want or at the very worst the knowledge and we can purchase the specifics for you.”
Rows of boutique amps and walls of guitars for every level of player fill every inch of space, and that’s just the electric guitars. Even for those who aren’t drummers, the lush wood ambiance of the drum room will make guests want to drum. The intimacy of the acoustic room with a soft couch and even softer lighting makes customers want to stay and play every last instrument. The place is as comfortable as it is impressive. On the surface, the remodel was a huge success.
Mulzer’s retail manager Ed Sein, of Boonville, is a fabulous musician in his own right. A welcoming and straightforward guy, Sein says Pat Moore did the groundwork.
“I started working in music stores in New York City at Manny’s Music. When I moved here and started for Pat in 1999, he was a breath of fresh air,” says Sein. “He was that guy who you met and liked right away. A lot of his style is why this place is still called Moore Music.”
Even those who’ve played guitar for years might not like playing in a shop. But at Moore Music, the atmosphere is different. Many musicians have made their first instrument purchase there.
“I made it my goal that whenever I hired someone they had to be a working musician or working in the industry, that way they are staying current with the needs of working musicians,” says Mulzer.
Internet sales manager Dennis Lyerla, of Evansville, chimes in: “I know that a guitar is like another limb to a player. Sometimes they are trusting us with thousands of dollars. I need them to know that we are treating this as importantly as we treat our own instruments. We eat and breathe this stuff. On our days off we drop in to hang out. It’s that cool.”
Mulzer knew the brick and mortar wasn’t the only key.
“My whole plan when I bought the place was to get the Internet sales up as quick as possible to help us get the inventory in here, and Dennis is the best in the business,” he says.
Lyerla is a lifer who has worked at Moore Music and as a musician for years. He beams with wonderment as much as pride, “I ship to China, Hong Kong, heck, I shipped an amp to Tasmania last week,” he says. “Moore Music is now worldwide.”
He is a man who loves his job. “On the Internet, we’re stocking deep into product lines. In fact we’re one of the top 10 in the world of Paul Reed Smith dealers. I shipped a guitar to Oregon today that probably wasn’t even available in the buyer’s state.”
Sein knows this is a wonderful situation for a musician and a businessman.
“I get to work everyday with people who love what they do,” he says. “The products I sell are made by people who are as passionate about the things I love as I am and that matter to me. It’s all about personal relationships; to me the job satisfaction over the years starts there. When someone comes up to me and says I bought my first guitar from you and I’m still playing, that’s what is rewarding.”
Sein says his focus is making sure the store is a success, now and into the future.
“I want to be here in 40 years and this to be a place where musicians want to be a part of the scene,” he says. “The community has helped us build this, that’s important to me.”
Like most in music stores, Brett Mulzer dreamed of being a rock star. This is how it worked out. His staff members feel like they have something at stake. The ideas are flowing and there’s a lot more to come.
For more information about Moore Music, call 812-479-9595 or visit mooremusicev.com.