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How This Franchisee Is Spreading His Passion for Music in the Midwest

When Kevin Johnson turned 30, he found himself unemployed and began taking a closer look at his options: finding another sales job or starting his own business.

These days, he’s getting ready to celebrate his 25th anniversary as a Music Go Round® franchisee with two stores in Columbus, Ohio and one in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Entrepreneurial Dream

It was in the mid-1990s when Kevin came across an ad in the “Business Opportunity” section of the local Sunday newspaper. The headline read, “Want to Own Your Own Music Store?”

Kevin, who has had a lifelong passion for music, was instantly intrigued and began researching Music Go Round. Of course, this was in the pre-internet era, so he read through an informational packet and learned about the success that other Winmark® brands like Play It Again Sports® and Once Upon A Child® had achieved in the Columbus market.

He soon realized there was huge market potential in the music resale sector. He began looking at similar music stores, started “secret shopping” at several of them and noticed there were many things they lacked.

For example, the stores wouldn’t purchase his Bach Silver trumpet, which was valued at around $700 at the time. He experienced poor customer service throughout the locations, either being completely ignored or being ridiculed for touching the instruments that were on display to try them out. That’s when he truly realized his potential, and that he could provide a place that offers that personalized service for new and accomplished musicians alike.

Getting Started With A Music Store Franchise

When he decided to open a business, a music concept was one that instantly stood out to him. After all, he played the piano, trumpet and guitar. Kevin wanted to open a business he was passionate about.

To Kevin, there was a large gap in the market for a music resale store where the owners and employees really cared about their customers and wanted to help them discover their own musical passion.

“I always found music to be a soothing and enjoyable hobby,” he said. “Spreading the word with my own store really felt right.”

After speaking with a few Play It Again Sports owners and the founders of Once Upon A Child, he knew that resale was the way to go and that the Winmark brand could help him get to where he wanted to be.

He chose to go the franchising route because he knew that he was new to the industry and that he needed the training support and a strong point-of-sale system for his store, as well as the trade connections that a franchise could provide. As he looked into different franchises, Winmark stood out above the rest.

“When I researched other franchises, I had heard horror stories about the lack of support after the fact, mandated buying of supplies from the franchisor at high prices and stacking stores on top of each other in a market,” Kevin said. “I was very pleased with the support I received when picking my location, setting up the store for grand opening and continuing to help train employees and myself in the entire endeavor.”

He opened his first Music Go Round store on the northwest side of Columbus in 1996.

A Growing Portfolio

Kevin is the first to admit that there are several hoops to jump through when it comes to growing your business. He credits word of mouth for his ability to grow his stores throughout the years.

“I really believe that being nice to people when they came to us meant a ‘good word’ was being spread about us,” he explained.

He used his previous experience as a food sales representative in the grocery industry and applied it to his music business.

“I related my music business to selling bread, canned green beans and fruit spreads. Everything has a shelf life,” Kevin quipped. “I just needed to decide what the shelf life was for music gear, then implement a strategy to move it out after a certain amount of time.”

He used this mentality to begin marking prices down after 90 days on display in his store. This generated sales and trade-ins, which resulted in greater sales.

Kevin opened his second store on Black Friday in 2000 on the northeast side of Columbus in Gahanna, and in 2015, he purchased his third store in Ann Arbor, MI from a friend who had opened his Music Go Round store around the same time as him.

“I believe in the resale concept in general and think that if managed properly, we should have a sustainable business model in most industries,” Kevin said.

Finding Gratification as a Music Franchise Owner

Kevin looks forward to running his businesses every day, and he’s proud of the work he’s put in to set himself up for his eventual retirement.

“The best part (about owning my business) is when you put an instrument — be it a violin or guitar — in the hands of a first-time player, you see their face light up and you hope that you have passed on the light that you experience each time you pick up your instrument,” said Kevin.

“Music is a wonderful thing,” he added. “Learning an instrument not only helps some people find their passion in life, but it also teaches children that if they focus and practice, they can master something that seems almost un-doable at first attempt. I found where I fit into this world when I opened my store.”

Are you looking to share your musical passion with your community? Click here to learn more about our resale franchise opportunities!