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Pandemics and Stores Like Ours

Who knew what a pandemic could do to the supply of musical instruments? Through 2019 stores like the Denver Folklore Center were placing monthly and quarterly orders assuming buying patterns would remain the same though 2020. Little did we know that everything would change dramatically as a result of COVID-19.

On March 24th we closed our store in compliance with orders from the city of Denver. For the next seven weeks we filled online orders only that we could ship without customer contact. And we received no new merchandise. In mid-May we reopened with curb-side service only and then towards the end of the month we started hosting customers in small numbers inside the store with masks and social distancing – and still with no new instruments coming in.

Over the next thirty to forty-five days we saw a doubling or even tripling in the number of instrument purchases over what we had anticipated. People were working (or not) from home, had no place to spend disposable income since almost everything was shut down, were receiving checks from the government to help them through the shutdown and were looking for something to do. Guitars, mandolins, banjos and ukuleles were flying out the door and we were on the phone with our vendors daily ordering more, and more and more.

And so were all the other music stores in the US and abroad. Meanwhile, the manufacturers had also been shut down and when they came back on line it was with a reduced workforce and 300-500% more orders than usual. It was the retail equivalent of the perfect storm. 

Over the last several months we have seen some of our suppliers recover to the point that our 2020 orders are mostly in and our 2021 orders are slowly getting caught up. Even so, many orders we place today will take anywhere from three to eighteen months to arrive and a few of our vendors are not even accepting orders until late 2022 or early 2023. 

We are grateful to all our customers who supported us through these challenging times and we will continue to do all we can to keep a robust selection of instruments available in the store. Whatever normal will look like in our industry is still at least twelve to twenty-four months away. 

- Saul Rosenthal, Co-Owner, Denver Folklore Center