|I hope this brief insight into my 36 years on this planet will help illustrate how my life has been pretty much dominated by my love of guitars. More importantly for you it should give you some peace of mind that you can ask my advice at any time and be confident that you are dealing with someone with true passion and focus on your best interest.
Born into the World! My mum ran a bed and breakfast business from home whilst my dad was an avid guitarist, playing all his life. Little did I realise how influencial both of these skills would become in my own life. My mothers ability to be self sufficient by ensuring she looked after the interests of her guests – always ensuring they were well looked after – and my dads love for guitar would later become important building blocks for my own business and provide me values to take through life in general.
My parents bought me my first guitar. I was 8 years old and up until this point I had enjoyed a few lessons from my father. Clearly they had noticed my interest and fascination with the guitar and wanted to encourage me. I enjoyed private lessons from local tutors and played a few chords or so in school plays and remember playing the pink panther to a school audience. I don’t think the pink panther is quite in vogue these days but at the time I felt like Jimi Hendrix (not sure whether I even knew who he was!!).
At 20 my University life came to an ubrupt end due to a life threatening illness (Hodgkins Disease). Following many months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, I followed the old stereotype that you always hear and decided to make sure I followed my dreams today – not tomorrow! Off I went to the Guitar Institute to hone my playing skills and theory in order to begin a teaching career. Following a 3 month course I continued to have weekly private lessons in London with Iian Scott (blues) and Shaun Baxter (instrumental rock/jazz) for over year. A 3 hour round trip per lesson from Stratford to London and back!
Advertising in local newspapers I rapidly became fully booked as a local guitar tutor from my parents home near Bidford On Avon. My emphasis was very much on getting people to understand why/how things work IE chord/scale relationships and the theory that makes music what it is. Helping people to really understand what they were playing was so important to me and I am really proud of what I achieved during my teaching years.
Regent Guitars was opened in July 1995! 6 guitars on sale and teaching upstairs to make ends meet. Right from the start I wanted to ensure my customers had their guitars set up to the highest of standards and took on a local technician to set up every single guitar sold. Utilising the internet to raise awareness of my service ethic Regent Guitars grew rapidly and it wasn’t long before our turnover was well in excess of 1 million pounds per annum.
Utilising my knowledge of the industry and my keen interest in business I created an internet based support mechanism to enable enquiries for guitars to be passed onto local business/guitar shops. I was extremely proud of the project which supported indipendent guitar shops in an attempt to counter the negative effect internet trading would have on them in the future. Despite the backing of many suppliers (every one I approached), the personal endorsement from the then head of the MIA (Music Industry Association) and the true ethos of the system it was doomed to fail due to….the shops it was designed to support. It was only when I introduced a system to save indipendent stores that I realised how few of them deserved to be in business in the first place. A sad but true reflection on my industry.
Several years of continued growth, managers coming and going, continual fraud and other staff related issues left me completely drained. Indistry politics, marketing hype and brand “bullying” (IE you will say all our guitars are great or don’t sell them) made me feel like my input and personal passion was being removed/watered down in terms of how my business was perceived both by the public and industry alike. I had suffered several emotional “breakdowns”. I loved guitars, I loved talking about them, demonstrating them, talking to the public but I had come to hate what my business had become. We were selling 8-10 guitars every day but my feelings were that it was more like a production line than a personalised, specialist store. I closed Regent Guitars on March 31 2008 in one final state of depression.
With an incredible show of support from the trade, past customers and a mother in law with a sudden interest in guitars (!!) I have been able to assist in the opening of Richards Guitars! Same premises, same number, same guitar tech! I have re-ignited my passion by focusing on what made Regent Guitars so great for the first 10 years. Personal passion, personal recommendations, one to one advice and beautifully setup guitars. I will never deviate from this path as it is what I love. All I want is to put my hand on my heart and know that I am doing the very best I can for every person who asks for my advice. If I can achieve this I will remain more than happy.
Saw the launch of the guitars.co.uk classifieds. A free service enabling people to advertise their guitars for sale. To this date there are nearly 1000 followers on Twitter and adverts rank extremely well via Google. If you want to sell your guitar, this is a great place to start!
June 2010 saw Richards Guitars move back to my home town of Stratford Upon Avon. I had been based in Leamington for 15 years so the change was very scary. However, with the business now just 1 mile from my home it was the most natural experience right from the off. I immediately felt at home in Stratford Upon Avon and really proud to offer my services to the “locals” where I was born and bred! In fact, I was born 1 mile down the road and my father lived 100 yards down the road up until his teens – so this really does feel like home. Moving to Stratford also gave me an extra hour of my life back (no more travelling) which of course means one more hour a day available on line via my live help facility!
Lots more to fill in when I have time!
NO STAFF OR INDUSTRY TRADE ALLOWED UNLESS BY STRICT APPOINTMENT.