What motivated you to open a music store?
Even now I’m completely fascinated by guitar. I’m not interested in any other instruments. I’ve invested so much in playing guitar that if I started something else, to get to a certain level of skill would take away from my time playing guitar. It’s hard to maintain that level with more than one instrument.
Was your musical background what lead you to open a music shop?
When I was nineteen I had a pretty good job, but a band I really loved asked me to come and work for them. They would pay me $75 a week to be a roadie. Pretty much every decision I made after that was to be in the music industry. I didn’t plan that, but when I came to a fork in the road I defaulted to music. My phrase is, I’ve been able to avoid gainful employment for most of my adult life.
When I had a chance to buy a store in Kelowna I wrote a list of reasons why I thought I could do that. In the cons list, the only thing I could come up with, was that I hadn’t done that before. I couldn’t be more prepared, so that was that. I had the store in Kelowna for seventeen years.
When I sold the store in Kelowna it was because I was feeling this incredible weariness. But I knew I’d own another store again.
What has been the most rewarding part of owning the shop?
I get a lot of people in here who find the same kind of fulfillment in music that I do. Music is everything.
Everything has a soundtrack. Music is not just playing guitar or playing piano. It’s birds and wind going through the trees.
What’s your biggest inspiration?
Just discovering music and what it meant for me. When you want to play music, it’s frightening to stand on a stage. But to feel the power of music, and then to be playing those songs, it carries through your whole life.
I started to write my own songs. I have no idea how a song comes to me. Keith Richards said you’re a conduit.
You have an obligation, if you want to get anywhere, to pursue when the muse strikes.
You also have to think, are you trying to write a hit song, or are you trying to write a great song? Because a great song is a truthful song.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
The divide I see now between my generation and young people is pretty massive. It’s not good or bad, but it’s a challenge. I don’t sell anything online. If you can’t walk through my door, I can’t sell you anything.
I’m practical, I like people. There are plenty of people who are willing to come in and make the store work.
It’s important to me to not be like everybody else. Statistically, 75% of people want to buy a recognizable brand name because they feel more comfortable, that’s the point of branding. But 25% of people are looking for something else. Those are the people I’m here for. They come in and they buy something, not for the brand name, but for the guitar. We do sell brands but it’s not our bread and butter. We can stock smaller brands like Godin, that’s a Canadian brand.
Do you like your location?
What a money-shot. This used to be Mirage Coffee. This space is beautiful. I think we did a great job in turning it into a guitar shop, but how could you miss! I couldn’t be in business if I messed this one up.
What do you like about downtown Victoria in general?
Downtown Victoria is completely unique. That’s going to change and I don’t think for the better. When I see developers coming in I know its gentrification. Over time that gets rid of the character. But that’s going to take a long time.
I love it and I hate it because I know what it is and I know what its going to be. But it’s changing for the younger generations, that’s how it has to happen. If you don’t want cars downtown, you have to have buildings. I hate it because I’m old, but I understand that it needs to happen.
The really unique thing about downtown Victoria is the number of cool small businesses. I walk around and I see all these small businesses I’ve never seen before.
Everything is here. It doesn’t matter what you’re into, it’s here. It’s the most fantastic ecosystem.
Do you feel a sense of community here?
Absolutely. Small businesses are a different animal. What we do is insane, the hours that we work, it’s a passion. It’s a different value system. We’re all cut from the same cloth.