Strategies of the Dealer of the Year (2015 NAMM Retail Summit)


In 2014, Rand and Cindy Cook of The Candyman Strings and Things in Santa Fe, N.M., won NAMM’s Dealer of the Year award. Twelve months later, they regrouped with NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond at the “NAMM Retail Summit.” There, the husband-and-wife couple delved into the strategy behind their award-winning full-line store. They looked at everything from their company culture to their ongoing market-development efforts.

Highlights from the video:

On creating an inclusive store culture:
“The store was so much different before we purchased it,” Cindy said. “We wanted it to be all-inclusive. It was more for pro musicians. We wanted everybody—whether you’re a pro, a beginner, a mother, a child—we wanted it to be a place that anybody could go, and we would have something for them. We made sure that the culture changed a little with the existing staff.”

On doing away with sales commission:
“We’d always been that environment,” Rand said. “But with the staff, in particular, [we don’t have commission] to create that collegial, let’s help each other out to make the customer experience the best customer experience and to take the competitive environment away from that. So if somebody’s selling guitars, one of the other staff members will be like, ‘Let me grab a case for you.’

“And the staff really loves that because it’s a much less stressful place for them to be spending their time day in and day out.”

On rock camps as market development:
“We do have the pro musicians and people that have always played music, that are always going to play music, come in,” Cindy said. “They’re our buds, they’re our friends, they’re our loyal customers. But you’ve got to be able to create new customers, and if you start with the kids, then they’ll grow with you. The parents will be loyal to you. When it’s birthday or Christmastime, they’re going to come in and buy that instrument from you.

“So rock camp has been so incredible in creating those music makers but also selling extra gear, accessories, equipment throughout the year. So much so that we’ve decided to add more programs … more learning music opportunities, like instituting our recreational music making program for people that don’t want to do the traditional lessons. A home-school program, so the kids that are home schooled can come in and create a concert band.”

On defining success:
“Being able to sleep at night,” Rand said. “Knowing that you’re doing good in the world. We’re making a good living, and our employees make a good living—and we’re happy about that. But just knowing that music makes a big difference. We see it all the time. I know you see it all the time. Everybody in this room sees it.”

“If you can see retired people coming in and buying a banjo and taking lessons and having that grin on their face, or the little ones coming in and playing on the bongos and just creating that experience for others actually creates this über-cool experience for you,” Cindy added.

“That’s success. When people want to come into your place so they can experience what you have. That’s success, man.”