Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Other Shoe Drops

It's now official: within a few months, Brook Mays will be no more:
Brook Mays Music Co.'s stores and retail inventory will be liquidated following a $33.4 million asset sale approved Wednesday by a federal bankruptcy judge.
The liquidation, which will result in the closure of 62 stores in eight states, including 12 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, is expected to wipe out hundreds of jobs.
Business will continue as usual for thousands of rental customers, including school bands throughout Texas, said Scott Bernstein, who heads SB Capital Group LLC, which is leading the Brook Mays purchase.
"There's no interruption in the rental business," said Mr. Bernstein, speaking at U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Dallas, minutes after Judge Stacey Jernigan approved the sale.
"For those customers who have rented instruments from Brook Mays, there will be no difference in the level of service," he said.
Mr. Bernstein said he hasn't decided if he will still be in the rental market a year from now, but he said, "We think it's a very attractive business."
I'll share my thoughts on this subject a little later.

LATER: It's hard to believe that a company which had been serving Dallas since 1901 will be going away just like that. Sure, I could be accused of bias here, since I've worked for and/or taught at one of their stores for fourteen years now, but it's not like I always agreed with everything they did corporate-wise or anything. Did they gobble up too many other stores in too many other states too quickly? Did doing so force them to get bigger in the front office (they had been in the same family since the early 1950's), and did taking on an "equity partner" (as they did in 2000) make them lose their way? At any rate, it's hard to believe that they were sold to a liquidator instead of someone who would actually buy the company and rescue it from insolvency; an article from not quite a month ago sounded much more optimistic.

Though the CEO blames the glut of entry-level instruments for the company's recent difficulties, it's hard not to believe that the loss of a lawsuit against First Act (the maker of many of those instruments and the subject of an earlier post) must have had something to do with it. I suppose we'll never know why Brook Mays settled instead of appealing that case, but it's dismaying to find out that someone who sells lower-quality stuff has contributed to the demise of a company which at least offered the option of better instruments; sure, they sold some clunkers over the years in the name of saving money, but the Wally World horn shopper only has the choice of entry-level horn or nothing. It would be interesting to survey the parents and students who opt for bargain-bin instruments as beginners and see how many of them make it to high school with that same horn; the ideal situation would be if they could afford to upgrade by then. (Read the earlier post for the rest of my thoughts on the subject.)

So I have maybe a few more months at best of teaching at the store; it's a good thing that my studio there had reached an ebbing point, so I won't have to relocate that many students. And sure, I might find a great bargain at the inevitable going-out-of-business sale that will result from all of this, but the landscape of Texas music retailing will definitely look a lot different when its onetime giant is no more.

(Read a history of the company, including a picture of the actual Mr. Mays, here, for as long as the website is still up. Incidentally, the website still looks as though nothing has happened, though they did add a message from the new owners, reassuring rental customers that at least that aspect of the business will be continuing for the foreseeable future.

1 comment:

Shawn said...

Wow, is someone taking their places or will they just shut down completely across the US? Looks like I won't be getting a teaching call from them. Bummer man.