PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Sales of instruments have gone up during the pandemic after concert halls and other venues had to shut down.
Vintage Instruments on Broad Street in Philadelphia has been around for 45 years, and owner Fred Oster said it’s usually been an “in-person” experience.
“We’re certainly selling more instruments to people that are staying at home and playing them,” Oster said. “We’re selling fewer instruments to people coming through town to play gigs because there are simply no gigs, so that has been an interesting thing.”
He said demand is up but supplies are not.
Many people want to buy instruments, but the factories that make the instruments were shut down early in the pandemic and still haven’t caught up.
“For new instruments, like Martin Guitars, our inventory is getting low because Martin & Company was shut down for a few months, and they really haven’t gotten back up to full production,” he explained.
Another brand Oster carries is Waterloo by Collings Guitars, which has been a hot item for a while as they’re less expensive.
“So we’ve done very well with them, but if we order them today, we won’t get them for two years,” he said.
John Yakabosky, owner of Old Towne Music in Washington Township, New Jersey, said the stimulus checks helped ring up a lot of sales.
“People not working, having the extra stimulus money, wanting to play something saying, ‘Hey I’m at home now, I need something to do, I always wanted to play an instrument,’” Yakabosky said.
Because of that, most of the inventory has picked off the walls of his three stores. While many guitars are out of stock, Yakabosky said ukuleles are always available and they’re cheap, costing between $40 and a few hundred dollars.
Yakabosky also provides rental instruments to local schools, and although that part of the business took a hit, some instruments fared better than others.
“The string program, which is the violins, violas and cellos, was stronger in the rentals. Maybe because the woodwinds, brass, where you blow into the instrument, versus a string instrument that you don’t,” Yakabosky said.
Yakabosky also said his store has seen it’s instrument repair business double since the pandemic began.