The walls of Brett Mulzer’s office are lined with guitars — exactly what you would expect from the owner and president of Moore Music. An orange guitar hangs on the wall. It was his first Paul Reed Smith he found in Florida when he was 24. Another guitar once belonged to Keith Urban while he was on a tour, but Mulzer is quick to point out that’s not his best story.
The best story belongs to an old, hollow-bodied guitar. It was his best friend’s dad’s guitar — the guitar and the man gave Mulzer his love for music. He can recall the first time he played it with his friend as a kid in the family’s shed.
“We weren’t supposed to be playing this stuff. We grabbed it, plugged it in, and almost burnt the shed down because we didn’t know what we were doing. We just started banging around,” says Mulzer. “That night I went home and asked my mom if she would buy me a guitar, and we came to Moore Music and got it. That was where I bought my first guitar.”
On May 28, 2012, Mulzer’s musical journey came full circle when he officially took over the store from the original owner and founder Patrick Moore. After working as a band director for several years at Tell City High School, Mulzer purchased the building from Moore, who continued to run the music store out of the front half of the building while Mulzer used the back half as a location to operate a recording studio.
Until this year, Mulzer has operated Moore Music out of the location on Morgan Avenue. In July, the store made the official move to a new location at 301 N. Royal Ave. after the acquisition of Opus 1 Music in the previous home of Buxton Plaza.
“Our main goal was to get in this area,” says Mulzer. “We needed a lot more space, and, with Opus 1 and Dr. Buxton wanting to retire, it was just a perfect fit for us to move in and take over a space that already was known for being a music store.”
The new location has given the business desperately needed room, increasing the space from about 12,000 square feet to about 27,000 square feet. At the new store, customers can shop from a stock of almost 1,300 different guitars. Five years ago, the store had 30 guitars. In the beginning, Moore Music only offered two drum sets. Now, the store boasts 15 to 20 sets at all times. Cymbals have increased from 20 to almost 50, and amplifiers from 5 to well over 100.
“When I bought the company, the inventory was very, very small,” says Mulzer. “The footprint was very small. There was no online presence. There was no website at all. I ultimately wanted to end up with an amazing store for the Tri-State. Our goal was to buy the store, put it online, and let the online grow to get revenue up and support the amount of inventory we have.”
This strategy has been successful for Mulzer and his team. About 65 percent of his revenue comes from online sales and the other 35 percent from shoppers in the Tri-State.
“For a long time, the online sales supported the inventory of the store,” says Mulzer. “It still does, and we couldn’t support the store without online sales. But I don’t want anybody to think we could do it without the Tri-State either. Our online business couldn’t support itself right now without the help of the Evansville people.”
Mulzer realizes, in today’s retail climate, shoppers don’t go out simply to shop. If customers don’t need knowledge or guidance, they will go online — a reason creating a successful retail website was critical for Moore Music’s growth and success. This mindset, however, also affected how the company approached the design and vibe of the new storefront.
“We figure the only way we’re going to continue being successful as a brick and mortar store is to create an experience where people can feel comfortable, where people know they can come and talk to knowledgeable staff members,” says Mulzer. “I try to not have much turnover with my employees because that leads to better relationships with customers.”
Many of the employees were longtime customers of the store, like store manager Allen Clark III. He has been at the store for four years and is the resident drum expert, playing since he was a year old. The day Mulzer offered him the position was the day Clark graduated from EMT classes, but Clark didn’t skip a beat before saying yes.
“It’s the coolest music shop in town, so, of course, it was a no brainer,” he says. “I like interacting with the musicians, those are my favorite people to interact with — talking music, talking drums, talking guitars, being able to get people those tools to make better music. It’s cool they come here to get that gear.”
Another approach to increase the success of the brick and mortar store was the company’s purchase of the Evansville Music Academy. Students can take lessons on most instruments like guitar, bass, drums, piano, band instruments, fiddle, ukulele, and banjo. After buying an instrument at Moore Music, customers receive one free lesson through the academy.
Along with the acquisition of the Evansville Music Academy, Mulzer, who has a 5-year-old daughter, also is passionate about creating opportunities for female musicians, as mostly boys are exposed to drum and guitar. The store is hosting a day for daughters specifically for parents to bring their daughters and expose them to music. The event will have a date announced later this year on the company’s social media and will feature the female musical duo The Honey Vines.
“We are seeing a really big uptick in females learning guitars. A lot of them are starting from ukulele,” says Gloria Orange-Barnett, the store’s operations manager. “I have two granddaughters. For one of them I bought a ukulele, and she’s playing guitar now. My other granddaughter got to take an introductory drum lesson from Pat Moore, and now she definitely is an aspiring drummer.”
Whether it is the store’s vast inventory, customer service, or partnership with the Evansville Music Academy, sharing a passion for music is at the heart of the business.
“We spend time with our customers and we listen to all of their questions and concerns, because we want them walking around out there with something they can be as happy with as possible,” says Clark.
Moore Music’s priority isn’t selling instruments or music gear, but creating a community of musicians in the Tri-State who truly enjoy making music.
“We don’t just try to sell you something and then say, ‘Hope you come back some day,’ We want to know a month later if your guitar still is playing like it did before. Is your amp still working correctly? Do you need help tuning your drums?” says Mulzer. “It’s out of a genuine humility and kindness we want to help you, because we know it can be frustrating. Our focus is to make sure the person, once they take an instrument home, will want to continue playing it, not just try it and forget about it. We want people to continue to want to play.”
For more information about Moore Music, call 812-479-9595 or visit mooremusicguitars.com.