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Piano dealers, hows the market? #2778858
11/06/18 09:29 PM
11/06/18 09:29 PM
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GoodCuzStub Offline OP
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I was hoping a few of the people here who own both local and online shops would be kind enough to answer a few curiosities of mine

1. How % of your sales are digitals compared to acoustic uprights and grands?

2. What % of your sales are under 15k?

3. Do you have regular showroom hours or by appointment only? Why?

4. Would you open a piano store again knowing what you know now about the business?

5. How was your 2018?

6. Average margin on a used piano?

7. Anything else interesting to note about the business?

Thanks to anyone willing to answer any of these questions. Its greatly appreciated.

Last edited by kij; 11/06/18 09:30 PM.
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Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2778864
11/06/18 10:04 PM
11/06/18 10:04 PM
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Georgia, USA
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I doubt you're going to get a lot of honest answers to this on the forum.
However, if you get a subscription to the Music Trades, this sort of data is published in every single issue, divided up by different facets of the music industry (guitars, pianos, drums, etc.). It's not too expensive of a subscription, and keeps you abreast of most industry news in a timely manner.


Pianist, teacher, apprentice technician, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2778867
11/06/18 10:21 PM
11/06/18 10:21 PM
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GoodCuzStub Offline OP
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Probably. I am just a pianist thinking about opening a shop. I know google trends shows a downtrend from 2004, but in the last 8-10 years it seems stable, even if it is a lot lower than the 2000s. I have no affiliations to any manufactuer or anything.

Last edited by kij; 11/06/18 10:22 PM.
Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2778876
11/06/18 10:58 PM
11/06/18 10:58 PM
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With the possible exception of your third question, much of the other information you seek is probably confidential. I cannot imagine why a piano (or, indeed, any other) business would disclose such information publicly. Moreover, even if disclosure were to ensue, it seems to me that differences in geographic location, brands carried, size of store, debt, etc., would make the information of extremely limited utility in making a decision about opening a piano store.

Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2778878
11/06/18 11:17 PM
11/06/18 11:17 PM
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Surrey, B.C.
Norbert Offline
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Quote
I am just a pianist thinking about opening a shop.


Don't!!

Norbert eek whistle laugh

Last edited by Norbert; 11/06/18 11:18 PM.

www.heritagepianos.com
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Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2778916
11/07/18 06:59 AM
11/07/18 06:59 AM
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It is still a pretty dismal downward trend for US piano sales. Down about 70% from 2005. Down about 15% 2015-2017. Not sure what is behind the big collapse but doesn't seem like a promising industry to be entering. On the other hand, you only need to compete locally so if you can steal part of a large market from other retailers you may do very well.

Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2778920
11/07/18 07:16 AM
11/07/18 07:16 AM
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Digital, used, rebuilds, inheritances societal trends in music making. I would think globally keyboard playing is way up. More affordable and democratic for all now. Now the transition to more expressive keyboard innovation like Roli Seaboard and other MPEs.

I don't think the Piano will become a niche instrument like the harpsichord, but there is a lot of evolution and morphing still to come. There will always be beautiful acoustics for those who desire and can afford them. I hope folks will embrace the change as there is no thwarting it. I love that I can have a hammer action keyboard such as Kawai VPC1 or MP11 and have access to many high quality grands. These will only get better and more accepted in my view.


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Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2778978
11/07/18 01:16 PM
11/07/18 01:16 PM
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Atlanta, GA
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I don't remember the origin of this quote, but "Do you want to know how to make a little money in the piano business? Start with a lot."

I would not crush anyone's dream, but I would say it would say you would need either need to very slowly build over at least a decade or start with very deep pockets and a key manufacturer while carving out some niche in an existing market. We've built slowly over 25 years. Prior to that, my father had already worked for almost 20 years for other dealerships as a dealer tech, concert tech, and service department manager.


Sam Bennett
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Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2779038
11/07/18 04:30 PM
11/07/18 04:30 PM
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It seems to me that if you want to get into this business, you better be doing it for enjoyment and have a second job to pay the bills. Here in San Diego, there are two major piano dealers and one of them is now liquidating. And San Diego is a city of over 1 million people in a region of 3 million people. I have often marveled at walking into one of these stores and apparently being the only customer in the place,


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Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2779104
11/07/18 08:03 PM
11/07/18 08:03 PM
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GoodCuzStub Offline OP
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As it turns out, when you buy a 10k piano dealers are more willing to talk to you about the business. It's not a bad business to get into, despite the naysayers, from what ive gathered. Lot of upright sales, cheaper brands, digitals etc. For anyone else that was interested. Some do consignment, some dealers you buy up front. Why give any info? A better question to me is why not. If you can't compete you shouldn't be in business and how many people really have the money to go and open up shop? .

Whether I actually open a store is probably unlikely right now but eventually I might. Lots of easier businesses to get into with less investment for sure.

Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2779238
11/08/18 09:48 AM
11/08/18 09:48 AM
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This thread kind of reminds me of something Steve Cohen told me once regarding getting into the piano business. I casually mentioned in a thread that I thought I might get into the piano business when I retire from my day job. Steve Cohen sent me a PM and said that if I got into the piano business he would personally come to Georgia and kick my a**.

Being a long-time member here, but not as long as Steve, I took that comment as advice from a forum friend, although I could have been offended by the comment, which I wasn't, that the piano business was not necessarily a good business venture to get into nowadays. So, thanks, Steve, for the advice. I am retired now and have no intention of getting into the piano business.

I do think, however, that not so many years ago it was a lucrative/profitable and enjoyable business to be in and perhaps may still be is some locals for some long-time, established dealers. The way I see it, if you love music, love pianos and like people, it can be a good business to be in.

Moral of the story? There is still money to be made in the piano business, but perhaps not as much as it would have been in the past.

Wishing all the piano dealer members, rebuilders, and technicians out there all the best. We still need piano dealers... smile

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2779402
11/08/18 09:20 PM
11/08/18 09:20 PM
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Sam that quote originated with Moses. Still true!


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Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2779408
11/08/18 09:58 PM
11/08/18 09:58 PM
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Reminds me of the story of the farmer who won the lottery.

"Well, sir, now that you have all of that money what are you going to do?"

"I'm jes' gonna keep right on farming until it's all gone."


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Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: oldMH] #2779844
11/10/18 02:42 PM
11/10/18 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by oldMH
It is still a pretty dismal downward trend for US piano sales. Down about 70% from 2005. Down about 15% 2015-2017. Not sure what is behind the big collapse but doesn't seem like a promising industry to be entering. On the other hand, you only need to compete locally so if you can steal part of a large market from other retailers you may do very well.

Do you have a source for those number? The What Happened in 1980 thread only had data up to 2007. I'm sort of surprised that it's continued to drop so much, but only because I can't imagine there's that much more to fall. frown


if you're content with A V E R A G E . . . then just do what everyone else does
Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2779848
11/10/18 02:53 PM
11/10/18 02:53 PM
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When I moved back to the US from Switzerland in 1998, I was searching for some sort of business that I could operate and live in my hometown (where there wasn't a lot of opportunity). I considered minimart type gas stations, and was a acquainted with a guy who owned two, so I asked him. He launched into a convincing, woe-is-me monologue about burdensome government regulations, trying to scare up employees, drive-offs, shoplifting, etc. Ironically, twenty years later, he owns sixteen stations.

My point is, don't expect straight answers from people about their financial business. If they're making money hand over fist, then they have an incentive to mislead you because they don't want competition, and when they're not, they have an incentive to mislead you because they're embarrassed.

If you want real numbers, then terminaldegree's advice to consult the trade journals is the better place to find them.

I suspect that the overall downturn in the piano business in western countries is very real. My gut feeling is that this probably would not be a good time to enter the retail piano business.


if you're content with A V E R A G E . . . then just do what everyone else does
Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: FrankCox] #2779856
11/10/18 03:30 PM
11/10/18 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by FrankCox
Reminds me of the story of the farmer who won the lottery.

"Well, sir, now that you have all of that money what are you going to do?"

"I'm jes' gonna keep right on farming until it's all gone."



I lol'd. smile


Keith D Kerman
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Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2779886
11/10/18 04:56 PM
11/10/18 04:56 PM
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The only way to find out things in business is doing it. You need to accept whatever the results, good or bad.
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Last edited by Norbert; 11/10/18 04:56 PM.

www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2780026
11/11/18 08:31 AM
11/11/18 08:31 AM
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Clearly the bottom is falling out of the new piano market in the U.S., and has been for decades... The numbers are in and speak for themselves.

What I wonder is how does the number of available used pianos affect the new piano market? Pianos remain in existence for decades after being built and purchased, and usually remain in “relatively” good overall condition since they are kept indoors, and in recent decades, in climate-controlled environments. There also seems to be an impressive number of “low mileage” pianos out there that were purchased for show or for a child who lost interest. While they aren’t perfect, they can often be brought back up to good performance level with relative ease.

Contrast this with the auto industry where hundreds of thousands of cars are built each year... and hundreds of thousands of cars are junked each year. There is attrition and more equilibrium since cars get totaled in accidents, blow engines or transmissions, encounter other costly repairs that outweigh their value, rust out, “ugly out”,depreciate massively and become generally obsolete. Few of these factors would affect a grand piano that may have been purchased new in the 1960s or 1970s and kept in someone’s formal living room, even if seldom played.

These used pianos I mention are at least part of the competition to the new piano market. Especially so when wear is minimal and the effects of time and aging are partly mitigated by modern climate control. Pianos do best in environments that are comfortable to humans, so that fact has benefited many pianos.

And there is one more major difference between pianos and cars... Most average people would not be able to tell a 1920’s piano from a new one if in the same condition, again making the case for used being the competition for new.

Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: Thejumpsuitman] #2780037
11/11/18 09:46 AM
11/11/18 09:46 AM
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I could tell a 1920's Chickering from a new one because the original hammers were beaten down and gave very little dynamic range. True, they could have been replaced for less then the cost of a new Chinese grand, but the dealer wanted a good price for the Chickering as-is and it was just not worth the money in its condition. Same with the Chickering quarter-grand, the 1904 Sohmer, and the Starr parlor grand I looked at: they needed work, and with the prices a tech charges, they weren't worth fixing. Sure, if we set up a shop on a production basis for fixing old pianos, we can compete with new ones. I'm looking into doing this and shipping the instruments to China. But it's not being done, and Grandma's piano is not being fixed. I don't think the troubles of the new piano market are due to a glut of good old ones. There aren't that many playable old ones available. Not any more than there were fifty years ago. Fewer, because the post-Depression ones weren't as well-built as the earlier ones.

Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2780095
11/11/18 12:25 PM
11/11/18 12:25 PM
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Sadly, I suspect that the largest factor in the decline of piano sales -- at least in western society -- is that demand for them has all but disappeared.


if you're content with A V E R A G E . . . then just do what everyone else does
Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2780101
11/11/18 12:40 PM
11/11/18 12:40 PM
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Since all businesss in Norway must report income, salary of their daily leader, and this is publicly available, I did a quick chart of turnover of the 4 piano stores in Oslo, a city with a population of around 650 000.

The numbers reported here are in million NOK. 1000000 NOK is 119 000 $. In the chart 19K should be read as 19 thousand thousand, ie 19 million.

[Linked Image]

The purple colour is for a shop that sells mainly Kawai and Schimmel, with the occasional Bösendorfer and Fazioli.
The dark blue Seles mainly Bechstein and derivatives, with the occasional Steingraeber.
The middle blue sells mainly Yamaha, some Petrof and occasional Sauter.
The last one sells Steinway, Boston and Essex.

Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: Retsacnal] #2780107
11/11/18 01:00 PM
11/11/18 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Sadly, I suspect that the largest factor in the decline of piano sales -- at least in western society -- is that demand for them has all but disappeared.


That seems to be real question then.

Why has the demand for pianos decreased?

Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: Piano90X] #2780108
11/11/18 01:01 PM
11/11/18 01:01 PM
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Because people spend their time on computers and PianoWorld instead of playing pianos.


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Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2780118
11/11/18 01:48 PM
11/11/18 01:48 PM
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Thanks for your questions. This is for our business Steinway Piano Reseller | Park Avenue Pianos

1. How % of your sales are digitals compared to acoustic uprights and grands?

We do not sell digital pianos. By percentage we sell 90 percent grands.

2. What % of your sales are under 15k?

Only about 5 percent of our sales are under 15k.

3. Do you have regular showroom hours or by appointment only? Why?

We work by appointment only. As this article on the changing landscape of the retail showroom points out, most buyers hear of their choice of business by word of mouth or the internet.

4. Would you open a piano store again knowing what you know now about the business?

Absolutely yes! We see it as a beautiful thriving area, where in addition to the financial rewards, there is an opportunity to constantly connect to artists.

5. How was your 2018?

Our best year yet.

6. Average margin on a used piano?

20 percent.

7. Anything else interesting to note about the business?

Things are definitely changing. Those dealers who embrace the online world and are about being flexible on a number of different fronts seem to be thriving. In addition, strong bonds and effort with the chinese community, both in the US and abroad, is well worth it.

Thanks to anyone willing to answer any of these questions. Its greatly appreciated.

Last edited by steinwayman18; 11/11/18 01:50 PM.

Ronen

Park Avenue Pianos | Steinway Piano Reseller

https://www.steinwaygrand.com
Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: steinwayman18] #2780120
11/11/18 01:58 PM
11/11/18 01:58 PM
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In the Ozarks of Missouri
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Originally Posted by steinwayman18
Thanks for your questions. This is for our business Steinway Piano Reseller | Park Avenue Pianos

1. How % of your sales are digitals compared to acoustic uprights and grands?

We do not sell digital pianos. By percentage we sell 90 percent grands.

2. What % of your sales are under 15k?

Only about 5 percent of our sales are under 15k.

3. Do you have regular showroom hours or by appointment only? Why?

We work by appointment only. As this article on the changing landscape of the retail showroom points out, most buyers hear of their choice of business by word of mouth or the internet.

4. Would you open a piano store again knowing what you know now about the business?

Absolutely yes! We see it as a beautiful thriving area, where in addition to the financial rewards, there is an opportunity to constantly connect to artists.

5. How was your 2018?

Our best year yet.

6. Average margin on a used piano?

20 percent.

7. Anything else interesting to note about the business?

Things are definitely changing. Those dealers who embrace the online world and are about being flexible on a number of different fronts seem to be thriving. In addition, strong bonds and effort with the chinese community, both in the US and abroad, is well worth it.

Thanks to anyone willing to answer any of these questions. Its greatly appreciated.


Appreciate reading your reponses to the OP's questions. Any other dealers willing to respond?

Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2780131
11/11/18 03:16 PM
11/11/18 03:16 PM
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Since I’m old I remember when having a piano in your living room and have one of your kids (more often than not the girl) taking piano lessons. A typical evening over at so-and-so’s included a short solo recital from family members that played. Christmas party always included playing Christmas songs. Now, I have a few friends and acquaintances that play and own pianos but we never play together. The music programs are always the first thing axed in the school budget here in the US.
Fortunately for the global piano market, learning to play piano and having the money to buy a piano has been growing like crazy in China. Maybe it’s the sign “you made it” like it was here in the 50’s and 60’s.
I’ve always wondered if the piano market is much like the guitar market. A piano dealer will probably sell 10 Cable Nelson uprights and 5 GBKs for every Bosendorfer. Music stores sell 100 ukuleles and 10 Epiphones for every PRS Custom they ring up.


J & J
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Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2780133
11/11/18 03:18 PM
11/11/18 03:18 PM
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Posts: 10,941
Maryland/DC/No. VA
There are so many false assumptions being made in this thread that it would take hours to respond.

Some of the problems:

Piano shoppers want a wide selection of pianos that are in their price range. This necessitates carrying a substantial inventory, i.e say $500,000. I wouldn't consider that a small investment, especially when you need 2000-10,000 sq. ft. to display them. If one tries to specialize in order to keep the inventory investment handleable, one sacrifices large segments of the market.

The private used market is awash with good quality instruments in great condition. Since there are MANY, MANY, more pianos out there than there are buyers prices are forced down to the point where dealers can't compete.

The breadth of knowledge one need to accurately answer shopper' question is a major hurtle.

Oh, yea. If you believe that any dealership can survive on margins under ~33% you are hallucinating!

I could go on....

for days!!!

If you are serious about getting into the business PM me. There are several dealerships quietly up for sale. They would likely be your best bet.


Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: Steve Cohen] #2780156
11/11/18 04:26 PM
11/11/18 04:26 PM
Joined: Aug 2016
Posts: 162
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Joined: Aug 2016
Posts: 162
Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
There are several dealerships quietly up for sale. They would likely be your best bet.


Why are they up for sale?

Just regular retirement?

Or getting out of the business altogether because it isn't profitable?

Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: GoodCuzStub] #2780163
11/11/18 04:46 PM
11/11/18 04:46 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,693
Oakland
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BDB Offline
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Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,693
Oakland
Wanting to be in the piano business is not a good enough reason to get into it. You have to need to be in it.


Semipro Tech
Re: Piano dealers, hows the market? [Re: Steve Cohen] #2780168
11/11/18 04:58 PM
11/11/18 04:58 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 476
Southwest
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Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 476
Southwest
Are there market research specialists for music stores, specifically for digital and acoustic piano retailers? I wonder if there’s panel discussions at Winter NAMM or MusicMesse? I have no intention of buying a piano store, but I am really curious about how a new store owner decides how much floorspace to rent, how to best display and show new pianos vs used and trade-in policies. lm glad my livelihood and retirement don’t depend on how I interpret the local economy and the piano retail market. I’d be a starving piano store owner instead of a starving musician or artist. I’m glad a had a day. So is my family 😁


J & J
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Casio Privia PX-330
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