Third Rock Music Center on Plans to Reopen
Providing Unique and Safe Experience for Customers
While Third Rock Music Center is just shy of its fifth anniversary, the staff has honed its over 60 years of music retail skills to prepare for transitioning back to the ‘new normal’ that will soon face this Ohio retailer once they are allowed to reopen their brick and mortar location later this month.
The Cincinnati-based NAMM Member is hoping to open the doors to their store next week, offering customers an opportunity to safely shop for all their musical needs. As Ohio begins to resume normal operations, lifting stay at home orders, retailers such as Third Rock Music Center are navigating the waters, learning what it will take to not only operate efficiently but to provide their customers with a safe and meaningful shopping experience. The store prides itself on the values that come with being a small retailer and states, “We want to be small and local so that we can respond quickly with expert advice and support your musical interests and needs.” It is at the heart of this sentiment that Gregg and Angela Gammon, owners of Third Rock Music Center have developed their plan to start reopening their store.
We sat down with Angela Gammon to discuss their approach to begin resuming operations and how they will continue to serve their customers in a post-COVID-19 environment.
When was the store forced (or you decided to close) due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
We stopped in-person lessons on March 18 and closed the store on March 20. It was a difficult decision to close and layoff the entire staff, but it was the right thing to do, for the safety of our staff and customers. The Ohio Governor declared a stay-at-home order just two days after we decided to close on March 22.
Is this the first time in your history you’ve seen a closure of this magnitude?
Absolutely! Initially, our response was ‘What is happening?’ and complete disbelief. Once we got over the shock of what was happening, we decided to take advantage of the ‘downtime’ and took inventory, decluttered, re-organized, and painted the store. We wanted to be ready with a fresh new look once we could reopen. As of this writing, we will open to the public on May 12 but we will limit the number of people in the store to a maximum of ten to ensure the safety of our customers and employees.
How did you develop the ideas and protocols to safely reopen the store?
It’s been a combination of the state of Ohio, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, ideas from https://www.backtoworksafely.org/, and a few of our ideas. It has proven challenging to keep up with all the protocols and suggested guidelines as there are so many, and they change constantly.
Editor’s Note: Guidelines from the National Retail Federation for reopening can be found in a NAMM Foundation Webinar at https://www.namm.org/issues-and-advocacy/covid-19-update/namm-covid-19-small-business-relief-resources-part-six.
Since the closure of traditional operations, have you seen any fluctuation in business?
At the beginning of this experience, late March and early April, business came to a screeching halt. However, we thought since Gregg and I were working at the store daily anyway, we could certainly answer the phone, emails, and ship or deliver any online orders. We announced this on social media and the phone began to ring, while online orders slowly started coming in, which, of course, generated a bit of revenue. Although our showroom has been closed since March 20, we have created unique ways to help us stay afloat like; curbside service, virtual shopping experiences via Facetime or Zoom, and most recently, we’ve added private in-store appointments. Our customers love these new and convenient shopping options! The last several days have been truly busy and reminiscent of pre-COVID-19 sales. We are so encouraged by the love and support we are receiving from the community. I’ve told people that we have been on life support, but there is a pulse, and our pulse is getting stronger each week.
Can you provide any advice for NAMM Members hoping to safely reopen their retail stores in the coming weeks and months?
Reopen slowly and follow your state and CDC guidelines. By opening slowly, it will give you time to ‘tweak’ any processes that aren’t working well. This has been extremely helpful for us as we have had to adjust certain processes to make them more streamlined and safer. For example, when people purchase items and want to pick up via curbside service, we take their credit card payment over the phone, staple the receipt to their bag, or tape it to the box or case, and tell them to call us when they arrive, pop their trunk and we will put the item in their car. Very quick and efficient. However, if a customer is choosing to pay cash for a curbside pickup, we’ve learned to ask before they arrive, the exact denomination they will be paying with so we can put their change in their bag, thus eliminating the need to run back inside the store to make change and then run back outside to give it to them. More than anything, do your best to stay positive, remain in touch with customers and employees, especially those who have been laid off and learn as much as possible. NAMM has done a fantastic job with very timely and informative webinars to help prepare its members on how to deal with the many challenges we are all experiencing and how to move forward. Remember, we are all in this together!