Owner , Just Drums ( North York , ON )
CMT : You went from employee to owner of Just Drums just a couple months before the pandemic began . So , how have you weathered the storm ?
Mike Lomonaco : I think pretty good , for the most part . There ’ s been really no real complaint that I could put my finger on . At the end of the day , I stepped into a business that I had an idea of , but to fully put my hands on it , I didn ’ t get that chance until it was the pandemic . So , it ’ s kind of all I know at the beginning of it all .
CMT : As live gigs returned , have you noticed a shift in what ’ s selling recently ?
Lomonaco : Yeah , for sure . There ’ s been the people coming back to gigs who are using more consumables , meaning things like sticks , cymbals , and heads . They ’ re saying , like , “ My July is looking pretty good , and my August is full …” that sort of thing . So , in that sense , the accessories and small little things that people use have been a little stronger as of late .
CMT : When you ’ re dealing with a new customer , what are the key questions to ask them to kick off that relationship ?
Lomonaco : It ’ s usually “ Why ?” Understanding why somebody wants to get into it . It kind of lets them explain their story and their reason for walking into a music store that specializes in drums only . They got a purpose and they want to be playing the instrument , which at the end of the day , it ’ s just a really good thing .
Then there ’ s the normal questions that get asked every time , whether it ’ s like , “ Do you live in a house , apartment , or condo ? What ’ s your budget ? Do you have a favorite band ? Is there a certain colour that speaks to you ?” Those kinds of things are a normal , everyday question that gets asked . But more so is the “ why ,” as in , “ Why do you want to pick up drums now ?” It ’ s the interesting kickoff to the whole thing .
CMT : How does serving professional gigging drummers differ from hobbyist customers ?
Lomonaco : With those guys , it ’ s no muss , no fuss . Sometimes they don ’ t even care how it looks , it ’ s more just the sound and the feel that it provides . I might not even engage in that sort of like , “ What do you think of the look of this ?” They don ’ t ultimately care . It ’ s like , “ Yes , it sounds good ; this is what I ’ m going to use it for .” They have a purpose and a vision in mind . The look is a second or third hurdle they need to overcome .
CMT : Overall now , how are you seeing that shift in the market in terms of the ratio of sales between acoustic and electronic ? Are you seeing a trend there at all ?
Lomonaco : I think electronics have cemented their place in the marketplace , and I don ’ t think they ’ re going to let go anytime soon . Especially based on the quality of offerings that is out there now . The big players like Roland and Yamaha , to make them look like real drums has been a huge achievement for these manufacturers . Ultimately , are people wanting to come back to acoustic ? Maybe , but I don ’ t know if it ’ s ever gone away . I don ’ t think this store ever really was your electronic drum store destination . Just Drums has been around since ’ 84 and we ’ ve prided ourselves on that acoustic drum set experience . I think people come here knowing that they can find the snare drum , find the cymbal , and express themselves that way .
CMT : In terms of hiring new staff , how do you weigh being a drummer versus retail sales experience ?
Lomonaco : Good question . I think that ’ s more 50 / 50 . Having a retail background is definitely helpful . Being able to relate and talk to a customer and cover their wants and needs is a big thing , while still presenting knowledge and not being too showy or overbearing , where you ’ re like , “ I can play this and I know about this ; you don ’ t know anything ,” sort of thing .
Chris Lesso is a professional drum educator and the creator of LTR ( Life Through Rhythm ), a philosophy and method to empower musicians , schools , and businesses . www . chrislesso . com .
CMT : How influential are drum teachers when it comes to their students ’ purchases , or what store they ’ re going to ?
Chris Lesso : There ’ s so many products out there , but I remember seeing ads that didn ’ t have that much of an impact , at least rarely . But then you see someone who you look up to , could be a favourite drummer but especially your teacher . Like , if we go to a lesson , we actually see them playing on a certain type of pad or they ’ re holding sticks and they may give you a pair to play with . The impact that has is massive , and then it makes you enthusiastic ; like , “ Oh , I ’ ve got to get that too !” So , teachers have a massive impact — more than people think . It should be treated as a sacred thing and not to be taken lightly [ by teachers ]. It ’ s a big responsibility .
CMT : Thinking back to when you were young , what stands out to you in terms of your experiences in MI stores and drum shops , both good and bad ?
Lesso : Ironically , the stores and the staff that are just trying to push product , that ’ s when it fails . I think our bullcrap meter gets tripped . It ’ s that feeling of someone trying to push a product on you .
I remember saving up for my first big kit . Saved my money for years , and I was just asking them questions like , “ I see my favourite drummer plays this type of drum , but then my other favourite drummer plays this brand or uses these head . Why ?” The people I remember are the ones that took the time to really do more than they had to do , and just go into that world beyond just pushing a product . Maybe they shared a personal experience or just helped . They were going , “ When you play maple wood , it ’ s a warmer sound and you ’ re going to get more of a feeling if you play this style ,” you know what I mean ? That has nothing to do with just selling another product . I remember the store staff who would tell me , like , “ Well , if you play a 16-in . floor tom versus 14-in ., you might find that when you play with your band , it gets lost in the bass hum of the amplifiers , so you notice that this band does this …”
It ’ s like , wow , they took the time to really find my sound . Because that ’ s what this is , whether sticks or you ’ re playing a kit or
22 CANADIAN MUSIC TRADE