Wednesday, March 6, 2024

[ALERT] Century Old Retailer to Face The Music, Shutter Several Stores

Sam Ash Music, which this year is celebrating 100 years in business, will soon exit the Atlanta market as part of an overall reduction in the retailer's brick-and-mortar presence.  The Atlanta store, located at 2999 Cobb Parkway at the edge of Akers Mill Square, in recent days started liquidation sales with the store slated to close for good in May.  

Discounts at the store are reportedly limited for now - only 5 to 10 percent off - but will increase in the weeks to come depending on sales velocity.  The Cumberland area store is the only Sam Ash in Georgia.  

Published reports indicate the Hicksville, New York-based retailer plans to close 18 of the company's 44 locations.  The company currently operates in sixteen states.  Other stores slated for closure include those on 34th Street in New York City, Sunset and West Sunset Boulevards in Los Angeles, and another in Clearwater, Florida housed in a large portion of the former Kapok Tree Inn, a hugely popular themed restaurant that enjoyed its greatest success from the 60s through the 80s.  

Sam Ash founded his namesake store in Brooklyn in 1924.  In later years, his son Jerry ran the business, most recently serving as its Chairman.  As of late, Sammy Ash, Jerry's son and Sam's grandson, was Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the business.  Unfortunately, the company suffered two personal losses in 2023 with Jerry passing away in July at age 98 and Sammy passing away in September at age 65.  Ben Ash, part of the family's fourth generation, currently serves as Content Marketing Manager for Sam Ash Music.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that the Ash family may have [recently] sold a significant interest in the business to an outside entity that is leading the effort to shutter stores.  

The Atlanta area store spans nearly 26,000 square feet and sits on nearly 1.3 acres, according to Cobb County tax records.  The structure was built in 1979 and its property is currently zoned C4 (Retail - Single Occupancy), according to Cobb County.  As of 2023 the county assessed the property's land + building value to be roughly $2.1 million.  There are reportedly no plans to redevelop or sell the property, instead, the landlord hopes to fill the existing space with a new tenant.  

Industry observers point to Sam Ash's lackluster e-commerce presence as a contributing factor in their recent struggles.  Others have lamented that the retailer's stores have looked poorly merchandised and lacking in variety in recent months indicating the company may be having issues obtaining product from suppliers.  

Sam Ash is the latest musical equipment retailer to run into trouble in recent years.  

Guitar Center, the country's largest musical equipment retailer, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2020.  The company, which operates ten stores in Georgia, emerged from bankruptcy in December 2020 after a reorganization deal that added new equity and debt capital, and boosted the retailer’s liquidity.  

Also worth noting, Music & Arts, a subsidiary of Guitar Center, purchased Marietta's Ken Stanton Music in 2022 and has since rebranded the company's four Atlanta area stores under the Music & Arts banner.  Ken Stanton got its start on the Marietta Square in 1949 and went on to operate four large format stores along Cobb Parkway just north of Six Flags White Water, West Cobb, Alpharetta, and Stone Mountain.  Unlike Guitar Center and Sam Ash, Music & Arts focuses on the band and orchestra (B&O) market.  

Are you surprised to see Sam Ash Music closing?  Do you plan to visit the store to shop its liquidation sale?  What would you like to see open in place of Sam Ash Music?

Please share your thoughts below.  

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sad news, I was in there last summer and noticed that it appeared to be in trouble.

Anonymous said...

I bought my first bass there when I was 15. I went fairly regularly in high school both with and without a friend of mine. Sam Ash has never had a good web presence. I’m not surprised it’s closing, but it’ll be weird not having it there anymore.

Anonymous said...

my gosh. I grew up going to Sam Ash often in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Sam Ash is legendary in New York City. I’m sorry to see their imminent downsize and potential liquidation. I’m thinking if they close 34th St., there are several other locations in New York City. I seem to remember upper west side that that often caters to the musicians and orchestras performing on Broadway (theaters), Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, etc. Whatever musicality we were into at the moment, Sam Ash would be there. Also, for school instruments. Over time as a kid we learned the violin, trumpet,, clarinet, and of course, the early elementary school requirement of a “recorder” which I would describe as an inexpensive mashup between the clarinet and the flute, often a kids, first musical instrument - all purchased from Sam Ash. That said, the one location here on Cobb Parkway. I’ve been to several times and had made several purchases. The store did always seem to be disorganized, cluttered, lacking current and modern solutions. Essentially each department was run by actual talented musicians, but they really were more “about the music” than they were about “the retail” elements of operating the business.

Dave Newton said...

A few years back I was interested in buying a Gibson guitar at the Atlanta Sam Ash store, and a month or two later, a nice acoustic. Hung around for about an hour both times trying to get a salesperson to help me and was totally ignored both times. Haven’t been back since.

Dave Newton said...

A few years back I was interested in buying a Gibson at the Atlanta Sam Ash store, and a month or two later, an Epiphone Masterbuilt acoustic. Hung around for about an hour both times trying to get a salesperson to help me, and was totally ignored both times. Haven’t been back since.

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