After several years away from the local market, Adelaide just got its very own Billy Hyde Music Superstore with two entire floors jam packed with 100s of guitars, drum kits, keyboards, PA, DJ products and all the bits and pieces a customer could possibly want.
The Billy Hyde Music brand has been synonymous with musical instrument retail in Australia since the 60s, originally started by the Hyde family in Victoria. In recent times, the brand was taken over by another musical family, the Cleves family, hailing from Mt Gambier in the state’s South East.
Quite coincidentally, the Cleves Family have also been in musical instrument retail since the 60s so Managing Director Michael Cleves says the fit was obvious.
“When the opportunity to expand our business footprint nationally with such an iconic brand came up, it was simply too good to resist. We’ve been back in the Victorian market for a while now, and the fondness for the brand was evident from day one and we’ve definitely been embraced by the music community over there,” he said.
Cleves says the opportunity wasn’t without it’s challenges though, with big musical shoes to fill.
“Taking on a brand like Billy Hyde’s comes with the responsibility to do it justice, to live up to the legend, to what the market expects. In fact, they expect us to go beyond the usual expectations. We couldn’t just dip our toe in the water and do things half baked. The Melbourne store represented a major investment in the market, and our new South Australian store is of a similar scale,” he explained.
Situated in Marleston on the corner of South and Richmond Roads, the building itself is an imposing site for a musical instrument retailer, on a scale and level of visibility not usually seen in the industry. It’s a strategic decision Cleves said is all part of the plan to do things a bit differently, to promise something customers aren’t used to seeing.
“South Australia actually has a really strong history of music retail. We might be smaller than many other states, but the talent that comes from here has always punched well above its weight. We have great musicians and a really vibrant industry. Or at least we did until Covid hit, but what we see during those tough times is really inspiring in terms of music’s ability to find a way.”
While venues faced their own challenges, and musicians faced the prospect of having nowhere to play, and their source of income severely limited or wiped out all together, according to Cleves, the music lived on.
“Musicians played online, from their bedrooms and back rooms, they built and recorded in home studios, they played ‘live’ on social media, they engaged with fans across various platforms. They may not have been able to earn money the same way or at all at times, but the Adelaide creative community has always been necessarily resourceful and we saw that shine through, so it’s nice to be able to give them somewhere new to come to look at gear, talk about hear with fellow musicians, and even try it out before they buy. Because that’s what we think music retail should really be all about - more music, less retail.”
The store itself represents a massive investment in the state, providing jobs for around 15 people staff locally, and demonstrates Cleves’ confidence in the South Australian market.
“As a city, we’re smaller than Sydney or Melbourne, but it’s a really vibrant community and we think they’ll enjoy having a new place to come. We’re not oblivious to the fact a lot of retail is done online, and of course, we are in that space as well with our own website, but music is about spirit, about passion, and we just don’t believe you can completely replace bricks and mortar stores with online for something like music. We’ve also put a lot of effort into hiring our team - many of whom have never even worked retail before because we wanted people who genuinely loved music, over and above people who knew how to sell stuff. We’ll have an amazing range of great brands at great prices, but first and foremost we wanted to create a store where people would feel welcome whether they’re interested in learning, students that have been playing music for 15 minutes or pros who have been playing for 15 years. We wantd to make sure they’d get the advice and service they wanted no matter what.”
The new ‘superstore’ is not only packed with all the latest and greatest gear, the building features multiple purpose built try out rooms so customers can try equipment they’re interested in before they buy. Cleves says that when they looked at what retailers were doing interstate he noticed it was very much a “keep your hands off the gear” attitude and the staff were anchored behind the counter and didn’t always seem overly enthusiast to help. It’s something he was passionate about, creating a very different atmosphere and culture.
The store opened in early March with very little fanfare, but in the tight knit music community word spread fast, and if initial feedback and sales are anything to go by, it looks like Billy Hyde Music is going to be a big hit with all levels of musicians here in South Australia.
For more information contact Sputnik on 0433 903 521 or [email protected]