Standing in the café at Beacock Music’s Vancouver store, there was a sudden crash of the drums.
“You never know when something will happen at this café,” laughed Russ Beacock, co-owner of the Vancouver institution at 1420 S.E. 163rd Ave.
This joyful vibe is one Russ and his sister Gayle Beacock are aiming to recreate at their newly announced Albany, Ore., location. The store, which will have a retail floor and repair shop, is set to open Nov. 1 at 805 Burkhart St. S.E. in Albany.
“We really have a certain brand and vibe. We create that in the other stores on a smaller scale,” said Gayle, the store’s other co-owner.
“When people walk into the store, we want them to feel energized,” she added.
The Beacock stores, of which there are three in total with the addition of Albany, are clean and well-stocked. And they have a core group of long-term employees that also bring energy to the scene.
The Beacocks have had to grow to stay competitive on pricing, and they work to maintain the infrastructure needed to support their company.
“We never say no. We always default to yes. And then we figure it out,” said Russ. Why?
“There were so many days where we just went without anybody even coming to the store,” he said. So now the company goes out of its way to help customers.
“That’s a mantra we’ve been preaching for a long time,” said Russ.
Most of the revenue for the company comes from retail sales, followed by instrument rentals, repair and education. Online retailers like Amazon used to affect Beacock’s sales, but less so now.
“The transparency of pricing these days has almost eliminated that problem,” said Russ. Now, customers think about where they want to buy instead because prices are going to be comparable, if not the same.”
“It’s about the experience,” he added. “You want to interact with somebody that can talk to you about it.”
Adding new stores like the ones in Albany and Eugene, Ore., has allowed the company to service more school districts. Beacock has an extensive school program where a company representative visits schools weekly and rents instruments to kids in the music program.
Currently, the company’s territory extends south to Eugene, east to Goldendale, west to the Oregon Coast and north to Longview.
“This has been a long haul,” said Gayle. “We’ve grown slowly over the years, and carefully and consciously grew when we could.”
Russ and Gayle’s parents, Dale and Susan Beacock, started their first Vancouver shop in 1976. Even after they moved to their newer location in 2004, there remained only one location for about 40 years. It was plenty for a long time, said Russ. Then about seven years ago, they got a call from a small music shop owner who wanted out of the business. Since then, they’ve acquired five stores.
“We were able to expand that way, with their blessing,” said Russ. While not all of those locations got stores, the acquisitions allowed the Beacocks to extend their territory.
Gayle said she thinks that she and Russ have one or two more stores in them.
“If I thought that we could add to our school business, then we would certainly consider that,” said Russ. They wouldn’t, however, add a crosstown location where there’s already a store.
“It’s a lot of energy, it’s a lot of money, but it keeps things exciting,” Russ added.
“We love being an independent local business,” said Gayle. “We’re most proud of all of the kids and adults we’ve introduced to music.”
That, she said, is why her parents started their first shop 46 years ago.