I hold each label with equal contempt. I really hope the following overview of my understanding of each will help you understand why.
The "bricks and mortar" retailer.
In short, the high street retailers role is to perpetuate any myths and mis-information you have gathered from biased, profit based advertorials in the guitar press and to eliminate any barriers to ensure you spend your money as quickly as possible AND make you feel like you have made an "informed" decision.
Let me give you an example...
Customer "Hello, could yo tell me the best Taylor electro for £2000"
Shop store man "Here is the best Taylor electro for £2000 because XYZ blah blah blah"
Customer "Thank you - I will take it"
OK - So whats wrong with this scenario? Nothing if you work for the store! EVERYTHING if the store were to be doing the best for the customer.
For example, "best". This is a word that simply is not possible to define without knowing more about the perons playing style, build, musical interests - even views on fashion/sytyle!! You simply CANNOT pluck a guitar and say that is the one that suits all. However, in a SALES environment thats EXACTLY what you do to avoid confusion, possible time for deliberation and god forbid the chance for the wallet (I mean person he is trying to "help") to leaves the premises.
Anyone worth their salt would explain to the customer that the question needs re-phrasing in order to find out the most appropriate guitar for that person. That guitar MAY NOT EVEN BE A TAYLOR! But that is EXACTLY the kind of thing you would be taught NOT to do in retail. For gods sake you NEVER push someone away from the "Easy sell".
Ever heard a dealer tell someone "no, actually I don't think that would be right for you". Not unless it means spending more maybe.
Ever heard a Gibson dealer tell someone about the issues that plague the brand?
Ever heard an Ibanez dealer tell you that they dont even make guitars?
Ever heard a Takamine dealer tell you their guitars are over priced, well marketed mediocrity?
Ever heard a Taylor dealer tell you that their guitars are so "boutique" that they are readily available and made in enough volume to be found in every major town in every country in the Western World? Doesn't sound so "boutique" when you put it that way?
A high street retailer will sell you what YOU THiNK you know is best for you. This guitar will often be one that you have read about in music publications where the space has been paid for in advertising. Most reviews therefore will be squewed towards high spending advertisers.
These practices are the POLAR OPPOSITE of what I do on a day to day basis.
Have you looked at an online store recently? Does ANY dealer these days do anything more than hire a web designer, get a website site set up that loses ANY sense of personal care or human personality and then go and copy and paste every picture and description from the manufacturers website?
Lets face it, 99% of online stores tell you NOTHING, literally NOTHING more than you could learn if you visited the manufacturers website. Interestingly this goes back to the bricks and mortar store concept - just its a page feeding you the BS rather than the guy in the store.
Why would I EVER want to be associated with running an "online store". It represents NOTHING that I find important in my day to day philosophy.
So what is Richards Guitars?
In brief its about...
Of COURSE I make my money from the "sale" of guitars. But the BIG difference is that the "sale" is merely a "product" of all the words shown above, jumbled up so that make up the "service" I provide.
I just hope this goes some way to demonstrate why I HATE to be branded a "shop" and detest the concept of being another "online store".
I love the fact that I am neither and enjoy just being me, doing the best I can for each of my daily visitors whether it be "online" or in my "showroom"!!!