Gotta do it...

29th Jun 2018

When Bopworks started in 2006, we sent samples to dozens of drum shops, along
with our promotional materials.
Not one drum shop in the US was interested in
carrying our products. Zip. Nada.

After a long time trying searching for alternatives, Bopworks has finally started
selling on Amazon. Hopefully you'll still buy from our dealers or us directly, but
after experiencing dwindling dealer/music store purchases we’re moving on into
21st century marketing.

This is disturbing on several levels. We've always asked drummers to support their
local drum shops and music stores (not necessarily the chains) in our blogs. We’ve
run features on these shops while avoiding the third party online alternative.

Drum Shops

The heady experience of seeing stacks of drums, cymbals, and accoutrements in a drum shop is drum nerd nirvana. Couple this with friendly social talk of gigs, favorite drums and drummers, advice from the experienced drum shop owners, and you walk away feeling a member of a special community. I fear younger players sometimes miss this opportunity. Drum forums or online sites can’t really offer this experience. That’s why most shop owners/drum lovers started their own business. Human contact. Can’t really beat it.

And there are the shops who offer private lessons. A perfect environment to study
with an experienced drum set teacher. More times than I can remember, I’ve seen
shop owners and employees deliver drum sets to new students after hours for free,
fix stripped or replace parts for at no charge, help with tuning, impart drum advice,
history and much more.

It’s extremely difficult to start a music retail business, a lot of them don’t make it.
You’ve only to browse though back issues of Modern Drummer in the 70’s, 80’s,
90’s to see the attrition rate for drum shops.

Frankly, the whole drum shop/manufacturer/ music business thing is confusing and
a bit weird sometimes. No, actually it’s weird most of the time.1

*1 I can lay claim to an extended sentence in music retail during the 80’s and 90’s…

Caution: Exposé

When Bopworks started in 2006, we sent samples to dozens of drum shops, along
with our promotional materials. Not one drum shop in the US was interested in
carrying our products. Zip. Nada.

Some of this was understandable. An unproven company selling… “Jazz
sticks” ???? Was Jazz even still a thing?. 2 The cry of “We have too many sticks
already” became painfully familiar. Indeed sir, you do have too many sticks. They
are all the same with different company logos on them.

The only business we could get was selling online. In the mid 2000’s print ads still
worked, but they were really expensive3 even back then. But magazine product
releases and reviews ( God bless them) gave us credibility and things went from
there. We took the time and expense to negotiate agreements with the estates from
a few of the Jazz giants who had passed on and got licensing for their sticks.

2 I’m not making this up.
3 Additionally, more people than I care to recount have no business even opening a Photoshop
application and tying to produce an ad for a drum magazine. Sorry, your ads are an
abomination and have no literal thought processes involved in their making.

“Indeed sir, you do have too many sticks.
They are all the same with different company
logos on them”

Gradually through word of mouth and a few shops willing to take a chance we
managed to get our foot in the door, so to speak. Real live world famous Jazz
drummers took our sticks at PAS and NAMM to play in secret even though they
had endorsements with the “Big Guys”. That was pretty cool.

But not all drum shops thought Bopworks selling online was acceptable. A famous
drum shop in Nashville returned a large order once they’d realized we had an
online presence selling our own products. Other shops also maintained they
wouldn’t consider carrying our sticks because we were selling online. Often the
conversation would go something like this;

Me to shop owner/manager- “Ahem… yes, well we do sell online. But our goal
is to sell only to dealers. The only way we could begin to establish a presence at all
in the beginning was to do it online. No one would give us a shot.”

Shop owner - “I don’t need the online competition.”

Me- “You mean like Amazon and the big chains that sell the same products you’re

Shop owner - “We’re a drum shop. We have to carry those brands.”

Me - “U-huh. But Amazon and the chains don’t carry Bopworks. We’re boutique
company. Our sticks make your $5000.00 hand hammered, Vatican blessed ride
cymbals sound like they’re supposed to. “

Shop owner - “We already have Jazz models.”

Me - “You have what marketing departments say are Jazz models. They aren’t
designed for small rooms with bad acoustics. The “Big” guys play concerts in
concert halls or really nice clubs, not department store basements. But, we’ve
added two new models that are more mainstream.

Shop owner - “Send some samples, we’ll check ‘em out”.

Me - “If I had $10.00 for every pair of samples I’ve sent out that did not result in a
sale, I’d be retired in Fiji with my wife, not spending time on the phone trying to
sell you something you have no intention of ever buying. But thanks for your

Or, the version where the shop manager/metal dude who could care less but
acts as a protective guardian to shield the shop owner from evil sales calls 4.

Manager “ Do you have any regular sticks?“

Me - taking deep breath…” We have 2 new models recently that people really like (Note the deftness of my opening sales pitch). One of them is a recreation of a Ludwig 70’s stick a lot of drummers have been requesting for 10 years.”

Manager- Which one is that?”

Me - “Well, given the current attitude of this artist’s estate, I can only offer the
initials ‘BR’…

Manager - “BR?”

Me - “Yeah, you know ‘Buddy……’.”

Manager - “Buddy…?”

Me - “Never mind.”

Look guys, we tried. We really did. We held out as
long as we could. Thank you to all those stores who still carry our sticks. We’ll
continue to feature and support you. I hope something wonderful happens and
every drum shop continues to prosper and keep the fraternity going. Because we
know what it’s like to have a dream.

4 Here I must attest we actually ran into almost the exact scenarios when we called on two
drum shops in Miami and spoke to the managers. We left samples. So much for our Fiji