How Chicago Music Exchange Serves Their Passionate Customer

For the past 20 years, fans of vintage guitars (think cherry red Gibson’s from the 1960s and beat-up leather cases) have flocked to Chicago Music Exchange. Now, with a thriving web store, collectors from all over the world can shop their jaw-dropping selection. We spoke to owner David Kalt about what it takes to succeed in the Windy City and beyond.

1. How have you kept your store relevant all these years?
Chicago is a music hub and most every touring band passes through here. We’ve managed to become an international destination for music enthusiasts, in part, because Chicago is such a vibrant destination. I also think we offer our customers exceptional service and knowledge. From helping them to find a piece of gear to bringing a beloved instrument back to life in our world-renown repair shop, we kill customers with kindness and provide them with the freedom to explore their interests.

2. How has your team grown and how does your POS help?
When I bought the store in 2010, I began a full on search for a retail point of sale and inventory system that would grow with the businesses. LightSpeed Pro was a shining light so I threw out all our PC’s, bought Macs and never looked back. In the past 3.5 years, our business has grown by 500%. I keep adding people in e-commerce, sales, shipping and receiving, who all need access to the valuable data in LightSpeed. Our sales and marketing teams also use it to increase sales.

3. What’s changed in your industry since you bought the store and what are you doing to adjust?
There’s one major competitor in our industry who has worked hard to replace local, independently owned instrument stores.  Our mission is to blow our customers away by providing an unrivaled customer experience both in store and online. We do this by delivering value at all price points.  I want every musician to leave our store/site with something they love, and knowledge they didn’t have when they walked in.

4. Who are your customers? What are they looking for when they come to Chicago Music Exchange?
Our customers definitely appreciate the past and many of them still look to artists like Jimi Hendrix, Tom Petty, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and Muddy Waters, as well as to more recently acts like Mumford & Sons and The Black Keys, for inspiration. .

5. Are your customers more passionate about the products you sell compared to other verticals?
Obsessed and passionate! They can’t stop thinking about the re-creating the notes and tones they hear in their head. Our job is to help make their music a reality.

Stephanie Braun

Stephanie Braun

Stephanie Braun is a content writer, fashion enthusiast, and lover of pets. When she's not writing about retail trends, she's travelling the world and learning new languages.