Tuned Up, Ready to Play

A duet of risk and passion, Givr Guitar embodies much of what entrepreneurship is all about

ONE DICTIONARY NOTES the definition of courage as, “Mental or moral strength to venture and persevere in the face of difficulty.” For entrepreneurs, that kind of commitment is generally a prerequisite to success.

Enterprising Londoner Jim Blumsom seems to have it in spades. His career spans decades of inventing and marketing products and services, and he is now pursuing a new path—one not ­without economic risk.

“I have enjoyed some business success and that has allowed me to pursue opportunities that might otherwise not have been available,” Blumsom explains. “I consider myself a social entrepreneur now, and my focus is on bringing the community together.”

The community in this instance is musicians looking for the very best in instruments and amplifiers. But the guitar business is facing major challenges as several of the larger manufacturers, distributors and retailers struggle with serious financial issues—even though Fender Musical Instruments Corp. CEO, Andy Mooney, says, “From our perspective, the industry has actually never been in better shape.”

That may be more corporate hyperbole than reality, because many musical instrument retailers are genuinely concerned about the future, and this may not be the best time to join the industry.

“I want to see as many people as possible exposed to what playing music can bring to your life, and I am placing a major bet that Givr Guitar will successfully create a new model of musical instrument retailing while offering a home away from home for musicians of all levels of experience” —Jim Blumsom

Blumsom’s perspective, however, is that of an experienced entrepreneur and risk-taker. “I see a real opportunity to market high-end product to discriminating buyers, both in a bricks-and-­mortar store and as a major online presence around the globe,” he says.

And he’s not kidding about high-end. His new Givr Guitar store on Baseline Road features brands not commonly seen around here, but famous in much of the world for their quality and innovation. Companies like Paoletti, Relish, Spector, Acus and Source Audio may not be household words in this country, but among ­professional players they are recognized as among the best of the best.

Some of the better-known makers are represented, too, with Taylor, PRS and Guild among others having major displays in the shop.

But Blumsom’s vision is not just about selling exclusive brands to discriminating buyers. “I believe there is a substantial market for guitars, basses and amps that do not fall into the ‘traditional’ categories,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with vintage instruments per se, or their modern reproductions, but they are not the only choices for serious players today. We are offering state-of-the-art instruments that are also, in many cases, genuine works of art.

“I want to create a feeling of musical community centring around our store, too. We want people to feel comfortable dropping in to see the latest gear, talking music with like-minded individuals, attending workshops or just enjoying the vibe. And we’re planning a series of concerts in the store to showcase London’s top talent.”

But is this the best economy in which to invest the substantial amounts of cash needed to bring such a vision to successful reality?

“We see lots of opportunities to create something truly unique. And not just with high-priced products. Many people want to own quality instruments but simply cannot afford to pay the $16,000-plus that some of our models bring. So, we have affordable products as well, starting at under $300, and a music lesson department featuring musicians who are not only talented teachers, but outstanding performers, too.

“I want to see as many people as possible exposed to what playing music can bring to your life, and I am placing a major bet that Givr Guitar will successfully create a new model of musical instrument retailing while offering a home away from home for musicians of all levels of experience.”

There’s another dictionary definition—this time of an entrepreneur—that seems to suit Jim Blumsom pretty well: “A person with vision who starts a business and is willing to risk substantial personal loss in order to find success.”

Sounds like courage to me. Jim Chapman

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