Guitar Center, I’m begging you!

My beloved is an avid guitarist who practices guitar for hours and hours weekly (sometimes daily). So sometimes we go to Guitar Center to try other guitars, amps and gear. And there’s no place where I – supportive spouse who has no personal interest in music equipment – can wait, read my book and check email. The only seats provided are stools intended for guitarists to try their gear. So my options are: I can take up space intended for customers, I can sit on the floor or outside if the weather is nice, or I can go someplace else. (I have done all of these, when I’d really rather sit comfortably so that my beloved can feel comfort in taking the time he’d like to explore the store.)

So, Guitar Center, I’m begging you to visit a Starbucks or an Ikea, both known for their atmospheric comfort. I'm still so impressed that Ikea offers free daycare and sells baby food in their restaurant.

Guitar Center, you have created an environment that is non-welcoming to non-musicians who are shopping with someone who is. You have chosen to focus only on your (perceived) core customer to the exclusion of their friends or partners and to the exclusion of a potential new, atypical customer base.

So, please, Guitar Center, make your stores more comfortable for non-musicians – just a few chairs or benches would make a world of difference.


  1. It's an excellent observation Miss Brenda. I'll say this one point of sympathy for them: every Guitar Center I've been in, every music store for that matter, is packed with stuff. I'm sure it would be a challenge to find space.

    Still it would be worth it to juggle and find room. I fiddle with things for hours sometimes before purchasing. They should add some more stools for the musicians too, or you still won't have anywhere to sit!


  2. Granted, I too would love there to be a few more park benches in my life! And most Barnes & Noble stores do have both a Starbucks and a few chairs here and there, so i know where you're coming from. But I imagine that:
    (1) non-reading loved ones of bibliophiles are an income stream to Starbucks (a symbiotic business) more than B&N,
    (2) B&N isn't interested in creating a space where people can jam on instruments while they wait for loved ones any more than libraries build noisy rooms (not a core customer focus), and
    (3) Even when B&N has a space available for author events, they don't want to put out too many chairs out during the day because they don't want to encourage people to read the books for free in the store! They want us to buy the books to read elsewhere. Customer turnover is not as important to a bookstore as, say, a restaurant, but it is a factor.
    So in the end, as both a musician and publisher, I don't see much difference between the two. I think they're both doing what they need to do. My suggestion is agree on a time to meet your beloved and go do your own thing where he would bored. Or succumb to what Guitar Center has really been hoping for all along: the lack of chairs will force you to find the instrument you can't live without. You may not know it, but you have a fever, and the only prescription is MORE COW BELL!
    With tongue firmly planted in cheek,
    --David Ash

  3. As a guitar player and member of a family, I can easily say that this is completely true. Guitar Center and many other specialty equipment shops (think: tools and trade) tend to cater to the customer at the expense of the customer's family. Ironcially, it's for this family that the customer is inspired and motivated. Some people don't get it and others provide, prosper and grow.

  4. What an interesting set of comments, all - thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    I didn't include in the post but I was also thinking of Ikea: they give free day care for shoppers and even sell Gerber's baby food in their restaurant - they want families to be comfortable for long enough to shop and shop and shop... And it sure looks to be working.


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