NAMM Retail Summit Opens Summer NAMM in Nashville

NAMM U Breakfast Session addresses challenging times in retail and provides hope for smaller stores taking a personal approach.

July 21, 2011

The first day of Summer NAMM kicked off with NAMM U’s inaugural Retail Summit Breakfast Session, held in the Renaissance Nashville Grand Ballroom, where NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond welcomed keynote speaker Robin Lewis, a retail expert and author of the current best-selling book The New Rules of Retail: Competing in the World’s Toughest Marketplace. 

Lewis discussed the drastic transformation of the retail environment over the past two centuries, from the 1800s when consumers were difficult to reach and distribution channels were severely limited to today’s electronically savvy global audience. In his book, Lewis predicts that only 50 percent of all current retailers and brands will survive this latest wave of change, yet he believes small retailers actually have an advantage that big impersonal brands can’t match.

“There’s a shift from lifestyle brands to lifestyle experiences, from mass markets to micro markets and mass marketing to micro marketing” Lewis told the audience of more than 500 NAMM Members. “As a result, many of the big guys in the market are now spinning off into smaller stores. They need to get in physically closer to the consumer. When you see what’s involved here, you begin to see why you guys have the advantage.”

During the panel discussion that followed, Lamond emphasized people’s needs for connection in today’s virtual marketplace. He also talked with our NAMM Member retailers about how they’ve applied Lewis’ recommendations in the book to their own brick and mortar stores.

“One of the biggest takeaways from the book was to focus on experiences and engaging with your customers––and that’s been a mantra for us,” said Chris White of White House of Music. “Creating more experiences that engage our customers is what it’s all about. As of late, we created a program called Rock the House for kids 12-18. It gets kids playing, gets them in the store and gives them instruction. The parents love it and that means customer trust and brand awareness."

Owensboro Music Owner Gordy Wilcher said he focuses on providing a personal touch. “We try to get involved in the community. That’s what it’s all about. Knowing birthdays, having relationships, getting out there and joining the Chamber.”

“We hire people who truly want to help,” said Lori Supine of Senseney Music regarding their approach to sales and service. “They’re all former music educators, and they’re wired to want to pass on information and mentor other music educators.”

Scott Summerhays of Summerhays Music said he’s adapted to the changing retail climate by adding value whenever possible. “It makes sense to set yourself apart from the competition with proprietary products or through your store’s customer service. And with our repair department, we can provide a premium instrument instead of one just off the shelf.”

The session struck a chord with the retailers in attendance, many of whom are looking for an edge in an otherwise challenging market. “It really inspired me to kick everything up a notch,” said Gail Beacock of Beacock Music. “The most difficult thing––and the most important thing––is to have that constant connection with your customers each and every day.

Summer NAMM runs today through Saturday at the Nashville Convention Center. For more info, visit