Reunion Blues creates new retail profit opportunities; pioneering gig bag maker celebrates 30th anniversary with stepped-up sales and marketing effort, helping dealers effectively merchandise high-end leather goods with an opportunity to "sell the best!"
FOUNDED IN 1976, Reunion Blues literally created a market niche with the development of a line of high-end, extremely durable gig bags. With more than 70 models available for fretted, brass, woodwind and percussion instruments, the selection is deep and wide--more extensive than even many Reunion Blues dealers realize. The products are available in fabric or full-grain leather, in black or chestnut brown. There's even a selection of multiple instrument bags like double guitar and triple trumpet. Known for high-quality leather and impeccable workmanship, Reunion Blues has earned a reputation as the best of the best in professional circles.
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At the recent PASIC percussion show in Columbus, Ohio, scores of veteran players told heart-felt stories of still using the same Reunion Blues bag they bought one, two, even three decades ago. Over the years, terms like "road warrior", "old friend" and "better with age" have become synonymous with the product, while "Legendary" and "bullet-proof" have been used to describe the brand.
Since 2005 new owner Alan Poster has been working to maintain and strengthen this no-compromise image. A classical guitar player "in another life," Poster has recruited a marketing and sales staff of experienced brass, percussion, and fretted instrument experts to help expand Reunion Blues. Veteran school music retailer Dave Jones and keyboard/percussion artist Dave Andrus perform product development, while hard-rock guitarist Brett Paley serves as dealer liaison on the telephone. Customer service is covered by singer/songwriter Bryan Haven, and a new marketing and sales position was created for John Maher, who brings over 30 years of experience working with St. Louis Music, Peavey, Fender, NAMM, and Guitar Center.
All of these music-makers are supported by general manager Pamela Stracey-Rowe, CFO Charlie Kieser, and accountant Michelle Conrad, along with logistics coordinators Carolyn Stegall and Jessica Holcomb.
From Poster's perspective, the team's objective is to elevate the Reunion Blues brand to an even higher level of quality and sophistication while taking advantage of an emerging, affluent customer base. "I believe instrument retailers can quickly increase their profits simply by realizing how this upscale customer is already visiting their store every day," he states. "I would like to suggest that music dealers simply look at today's trends with other industries. Walk into any major retail store and you'll see leather bags, jackets, shoes, and attache cases that go for between $500 and $1000 ... and these products sell everyday. Our industry is no different because people are people, and no one is ever unhappy with owning the best."
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Dave Andrus tells of significant product improvements over the past two years, including "signature" black chrome and antique bronze hardware. "We decided early on that we would not change anything until we had lived with it for awhile. We felt it was important to maintain Reunion's established product quality--using the best full-grain leathers, a dense dual-layer protective foam, and tarnish-resistant lining. We were able to refine the elements that made Reunion Blues a classic and to bring the line into the 21st century with modern materials and designs."
In the past, Reunion Blues has been sold primarily through high-end boutique and specialty shops, but according to John Maher this trend is also quickly changing. "The time is right for the average neighborhood music dealer to take advantage of the growing up-scale market," he states. "Reunion Blues may be the best of the best, but it doesn't matter if the dealer can't see the opportunity. For that reason, Reunion Blues is offering powerful sales training in the form of online videos and in-car recordings, presented by real-world dealers with decades of experience selling Reunion Blues."
Maher adds, "It's common knowledge that when you start high, it's easier to work your way down to make the sale. The dealers who were interviewed in these sales training productions tell how they treat Reunion Blues just like an instrument sale. This is because the profit potential is as much or more, especially when selling customers conditioned to shopping price on the instrument brand, but certainly not on the gig bag."
Along with these sales training productions, Reunion Blues also supplies its dealers with a unique neon display clock, an attractive wood stool with revolving padded seat, and consumer advertising insertions in Guitar Player, The Instrumentalist, Modern Drummer, and Jazz Times.
"For over two years, we have been refining and rejuvenating this legendary brand, with the hopes of hitting our first home run at the PASIC convention in Columbus, Ohio, a show that hosts mostly students and teachers," says Dave Jones. "We brought three of every percussion bag to the show and outfitted two participating Reunion Blues dealer exhibits, while displaying the rest in our booth. At the end of the show, both dealers sold out of everything but one gig bag, and one of the dealers bought all of our display stock, so we returned home empty-handed."
Stan Jay, president of renowned Staten Island, New York, retailer Mandolin Brothers, says on the new Reunion Blues sales training video on: "The first time we saw [a Reunion Blues gig bag], we were impressed beyond all belief by the high quality of the product. We've always told our customers and we've always felt, truly, that Reunion Blues is the finest gig bag on the planet."
Mandolin Brothers is also one of six long-standing Reunion Blues dealers who participated in the in-car audio "panel of experts" recording. Both sales training productions are available to Reunion Blues dealers. Both reveal more than 30 years of success-proven techniques for closing high-end gig bag sales at the point of purchase. To see part 1 of the Reunion Blues sales training video, visit: