Founded in 1991 Mannys Music Store was first located in a small premises in Collingwood and quickly out grew its original space within the decade, and relocated in 1998 to Fitzroy. Mannys would move again to it’s current location in St. Georges Road, North Fitzroy, where the store has been growing and maintaining its reputation for providing helpful advice and personable service to curious and serious browsers alike.
Fast forward to today where Mannys Musical Instruments & Pro Audio Store has since joined forces with Store DJ, so we took the opportunity to drop into the store to chat with Andrew and Lance, a couple of guys who push all the right buttons to ensure the store runs like clockwork!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in the Music Retail Industry?
Growing up in Brisbane, my introduction to the industry was through my love of lighting when I was a teenager. I was fascinated by the lighting I saw at events and nightclubs. I was too young to get into the clubs, so I started learning everything I could about lighting fixtures and began building my own rig. My enthusiasm must have been obvious, and I was soon hired by the DJ / Lighting store I’d been buying my gear from.
After moving up the ranks at the previous job, I met Jeremy Leitch (Mannys Music & Store DJ owner), prior to him wanting to open Store DJ in Brisbane. That’s when I became part of the team, opening and managing the Brisbane store. Not long after that, I then moved to Melbourne to take up the reigns of managing Store DJ nationally, and also our recent addition, Mannys Music.
What is your Role at Mannys Music/Store DJ?
In my role as General Manager, I make sure that our team are on track and have what they need to accomplish the tasks at hand, while making sure we’re in position to take on the next challenge.
Tells us a little about the business philosophy?
We just want happy customers – our philosophy is to consistently exceed their expectations. We offer a large range of great gear, coupled with outstanding service. Internally, we breed a culture to match. Our workforce are primarily made up of past (and existing) customers who understand the difference that a retailer going that extra mile can make.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in the Music Retail Industry?
I started in the music industry in about the year 2000/2001 at a place called DMC records in South Yarra. I just started there by chance – I used to buy vinyl and turntables and things, and it kind of sparked my interest in the industry. I was always drumming in a band before that with my brother and when I was in a band, no one ever really turned up so that’s when I got into electronic music, to kind of do it on my own. I quit my job in hospitality and finished up Uni as well, and then started to go to clubs where I met some influential people who drew me into the industry.
What is your role here at Mannys?
I’m in fact a bit of an all rounder but foremost I am the Store Manager that looks after the whole complex and all the staff that work within Mannys/Store DJ. I’m definitely a very hands on front line sort of manager, doing a lot of sales, face to face conversations with customers, and answering the phones and incoming emails.
How long has Mannys/Store DJ been going?
I believe Mannys has been around for 27+ years and I remember going to Mannys as a teenager to get some drums and guitars and I’d say that Store DJ would now have to be about 15 years old. I’ve now been part of this organization for 7 years, from when I started in the Richmond store as a salesman to when I quickly took over as the manager after a couple of years. I was managing the Store DJ in Richmond for 6 years and then moved to Mannys in November last year.
How long ago did Store DJ join forces with Mannys?
Since November 2016.
What does the store specialise in?
Mannys specialty has always been in guitars, but now in conjunction with Store DJ, we cover a lot of Production and DJ equipment as well. We have seen an upsurge in Synthesizers now with great new products from Korg, Nord, Yamaha and Arturia and I also think that Mannys has always had a big synth history here with Steve Williams being the synth specialist that he is. So it’s a bit of an all-round store – guitars, guitar amps, bass, pro-audio, studio monitors, DJ, synthesisers, drum machines, electronic music production, midi keyboards, the list goes on. Everything to do with music which is what I love. I feel we’ve got the best of both worlds here.
Who are some of the key personnel in the store and what are their roles?
Everybody’s key in this shop! We’ll start with Chris Green. He was the original store manager of Mannys and he is now managing the MI guitar department. Chris is a great all around guy, he just knows guitars inside and out. I look like an amateur compared to him. To hear his passion when people come in is awesome. People would be talking about a Telecaster from 1959 a Gibson Les Paul or an ESP guitar, and he knows them inside out and has that passion and knowledge that guitarist love.
Dave Hancock is also another guitar specialist and just knows all his stuff when it comes to Musical Instruments, and has a great passion for it. He is a guy who’s loves to listen to what people want, and then ensures that he caters to the customers needs.
We also have Rob Leong– Rob’s a fantastic young bloke, who is another specialist in guitars, amps, effects pedals and everything in between. He is also well versed in DJ equipment as his passion for the gear started well over a year ago.
Then we have Tom Walmsley – Tom is originally from the Sydney Store DJ store, and he has just moved down here especially for this job. Tom is another all-rounder, he’s a producer, DJ, writes a lot of music and is also a pro audio specialist. He dabbles in guitar, and plays it so well that if needed he will go down stairs to help out. So Tom’s a bit of an all rounder as he also plays the piano!
And we’ve got Gerard Sidhu who began here when it first opened. He comes from a production background, and as a producer he has traveled the states producing albums. He’s also a Protools HD certified trainer, and specializes in everything to do with pro audio. He’s got a mind for it all up here, especially UAD, he’s a UAD king in this shop.
Then as previously mentioned there is Steve Williams. Steve is a bit of a legend not only in Melbourne but Australia as a synth guru. He has quite the collection, in fact one of the largest collections of synthesizers in Australia, right through to original TR-808s, 909s, 101s and to Fairchild and a whole range of other synthesizers that have been popular throughout the years. His experience spans the worlds of analogue and digital gear including, samplers, drum machines, sequencers and effects.
What other services do you provide?
Good question! We are mostly a retail store but we do provide a lot of tech support as well. So it goes with everything we sell (we’re not going to put other stores into a category that don’t) but we do offer a lot of post service, so if anything’s going haywire we know how to fix it. We’re all specialists in our field and we are all working as either producers, DJs, guitarists, drummers, engineers and the like. I think that’s where we pride ourselves, it is the post sales service that we provide. We don’t just want to take your money and then you’re out the door and we don’t want to see you or hear from you again. We like to do a lot of follow ups and I think that’s our point of difference when it comes to service other than just selling musical equipment.
How do you like to connect with your customers?
Social media is definitely a big thing for us. We believe in this day and age and in the retail space especially, if you haven’t got a handle on social media, a good website and the store linked into all of them, then it wont really work for you. That’s a big thing for us, and we pride ourselves on our reviews, whether its Google reviews or Trustpilot reviews, and we’re a very transparent company, with nothing to hide, so if there is a mistake that’s happened we are quick to get on top of it and make sure the customer is happy. A lot of it is about post sale service for us, the in store experience and the online experience, and we think our website is really great with catering for that.
Another method we like to use to help with our connection to our customers is through a system called Zendesk, which is an email portal that everyone in the store gets to see at the same time. This ensures that there’s not just one person looking after the enquiries coming through, and so it enables us to monitor all the enquiries espcially if someone is off or sick or on leave, so someone else can pick up from where we left off without interruption and that certainly helps our customers.
What are you most proud of about your store?
I’d have to say the people, people and the people who work here! From the dispatch department through to management, everyone in the shop works well together. We’ve got a really coherent team and it just makes for a great experience for people coming into the store and online. They know we’re passionate about our products, and were not just in here selling vacuum cleaners and things like that. We’re here to pass on our experience and that’s what I’m most proud of and to see how this store has come along in the last year and a half, it has gone leaps and bounds. Also the the commitment by our General Manager and our owner Jeremy to get this store going, it’s really starting to pay dividends now.
What are the future plans for Mannys/Store DJ?
We have a lot planned. We did have a music school here, but unfortunately that’s going to close down, but it will make for a better retail experience all round. We’ll be knocking down a few walls and creating a bigger space upstairs to move the studio monitors and PA gear to, and we’ll be also starting up a pro studio with lot more rack gear compressors, limiters, and more of Universal Audio style gear. We really want to expand into the higher end of the market, as we think there’s a good opportunity to explore that area at the moment. This move will also free up some space downstairs and allow us to expand our guitar, our amp range, and our acoustic guitar range as the guitar department is getting more and more popular as well.
Do you any have any special events coming up in the store that we should know about?
Funny you say that!….This week we’ve got the ESP On Tour event on Friday the 23rd March with Bill Kelliher from Mastodon coming along to do a clinic, of which I’m really excited about as I am somewhat of a Mastodon fan.
We’ve also got the KORG Prologue Showcase night on the Wednesday night the 21st of March. What an exciting synth! We’re all looking forward to it especially to see the new 16 voice version, as it’s been causing a lot of talk in the shop with customers wanting to play on it, so that will be fun.
But there’s always events going on, and I think that’s the one great things about Store DJ’S legacy into Mannys is that every month, every week we have training and events going on for new products. Another one we were just talking about doing is an event for the new Arturia Minibrute 2 and the rack system as well. There’s always new stuff to show off.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just that its fantastic to be part of this #ShopTalk series and we look forward to seeing what it brings for the rest of the year.
161-163 St Georges Road, North Fitzroy, VIC 3068. Phone (03) 9486 8555. Email: [email protected]
Open Monday to Friday: 10am-6pm (7pm on Thursday). Saturday: 10am-5pm