Goodtime Music opened in the Chicago Suburbs on Nov 1st 1993 when Pat Davey, Ed McLellan, and Clyde Richardson decided to start their own shop. Specializing in lessons and repairs, Goodtime quickly grew, doubling the square footage of their facility in less than two years.
Twenty years is a long time. It’s especially long for an independent guitar shop. While many other shops have come and gone, Goodtime Music has weathered recessions, big box guitar chains, and the death of one of its founders to keep its doors open for two decades. On the eve of their 20th anniversary, I had a chance to talk with the owner of Goodtime Music about their history and what it takes for an independent music store to thrive in today’s market.
Marc Johnson: In November, you’ll be celebrating Goodtime Music’s 20th anniversary. How has Goodtime Music managed to stay open for so long?
Pat Davey: I don’t know. (Laughs) I guess because we do things that a lot of places don’t. We service everything in our industry. We sell, build, and fix guitars. We sell and fix amps. We build custom guitar rigs and custom pedalboards. We offer lessons. We handle every facet of the guitar gear industry. I think it also helps that we search out good quality gear before making somebody hip to it.
MJ: How do you guys decide what gear to carry?
PD: We carry what we play. Whether it’s PRS, Gretsch, ESP, G&L, Charvel, Mesa Boogie, Rivera, Seagull, Eventide, or T.C., we play it before we bring it into the shop. Our Jazz teacher Jim Pierce has been playing guitar for forty years. He’s played every guitar out there and keeps coming back to Heritage. I’ve been playing Marshall heads for years. So, becoming a Marshall dealer was a no-brainer for me.
MJ: Most of your staff has been with you since you opened. How close are you with everyone else at Goodtime Music?
PD: We’re a family here. I think family works better than a bunch of dudes just doing things for a paycheck every week. Everybody’s got everybody else’s back.
MJ: You said you build and fix guitars. Who’s your tech and how did you meet him?
PD: I met Jimi Haboush in 1995. He used to work for Washburn and Hamer in their custom shops. When those shops closed, he started working here. He is, in my opinion, the best tech in a thousand miles in any direction. He does everything from re-strings and adjustments, to restoring and custom builds.
PD: Even before I started this store, I worked at a shop and built racks for players. Once the 90’s rolled around, everything progressed from racks into lots of amps and lots of pedals. By building racks and pedalboards with switching systems and making ways for people to set up and break down a lot faster, it makes dealing with all of that gear less complicated.
MJ: How important is music education to you?
PD: I’ve said this since day one. Unless a kid gets a scholarship and goes to play for college, his sports days are going to end in high school and he’s the new Al Bundy. For the kid that took guitar lessons in 6th or 7th grade, by junior or senior year he’s giving lessons to his friends and playing in bands. When he goes off to college he could get a scholarship. Or, he’s playing gigs or teaching to help pay for college. Then, that student can go off and make a career of it, whether it’s teaching or writing music for movies.
MJ: Many financial publications have talked about manufacturers moving away from big box stores to focus smaller independent shops. Have you noticed that trend?
PD: I’ve noticed those trends in the magazines, and I’ve heard people say it. It makes for good PR, but I’m not sure I believe it. Very few manufacturers have reached out to us. Most haven’t. When I see those manufacturers and their reps actually walk the walk that they talk, then I’ll believe it. If those manufacturerswant to get away from the big box stores, they need to find that store that’s owned by a musician that put his whole life into music and spent all of his money building a shop where he knows every customer’s name and what they like.
MJ: Where would you like to go from here?
PD: We’ve been talking about moving for five years. Our current location has served us well, but we’ve outgrown it. Hopefully, in the next eighteen months, we’ll move into a larger facility to do more of what we do and to help accommodate the sales from our website.
PD: Eddie knew his shit. He spent every extra dime he had on guitars. Every new thing that came out, he had to have it. But, to him, owning a guitar didn’t make you a guitar player, playing a guitar did.
MJ: What’s your favorite thing about Goodtime Music?
PD: This is the truth. Ed McLellan, Clyde Richardson, Pat Davey, Bob Radar, Mike O’Cull, Ron Gonzalez, Marc Johnson, Jimi Haboush, Jim Pierce, Dee J Nelson, Raffy Asdigian, and Brian Madary are all the reasons why Goodtime Music is still here and doing what we’re doing. At one point or another, every one of these people was a part of this. We might not make money like those guys at the stock market do, but, for me, it’s so cool that we get do this.
You can check out everything that Goodtime Music has to offer on their website, here: GoodtimeMusicStore.com
or, through their Facebook page, here: Facebook.com/GoodtimeMusicStore
For their 20th anniversary, Goodtime Music will be offering special deals on all of their gear and services through November. When you give them a call, tell them The Tone King sent you!
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About the Author: Marc published his first novel Becoming in 2010. It’s a kick-ass book with monsters and dreams and stuff, and you should buy it. Since then, he’s written thousands of articles for TheToneKing.com, many of which have been picked up for circulation by manufacturers and other news outlets. His next book, Drugs and Pancakes, should be available early 2014 if his alcoholic editor can find time to work on it in-between destroying his liver and screaming about punctuation. He graduated from Roosevelt University with honors, which means that he’s not as dumb as he looks. He’s been playing guitar for over 25 years, which is almost twice as long as most of his students have been alive.