When I walked into Midwood Guitar Studio on Central Avenue in Plaza Midwood, I was in awe of the dozens of guitars displayed on copper mounts on the building’s original brick walls. Low lighting and an inviting sitting area finished the warm effect.
This same space had been Clark’s Antiques for decades, dusty and cluttered with old furniture piled to the ceiling. It is unrecognizable now.
Douglas Armstrong, with his years of construction experience, transformed the space for people to preview guitars. Armstrong, 48, was intentional in creating a special vibe for his studio.
“The space was the first part of the [business] plan,” he said. “To be successful, we had to have something people wanted to come back to whether they buy guitars are not.”
Midwood Guitar Studio sells boutique acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass guitars, amplifiers, effects and accessories. Seventy percent of their business is on the internet, shipping all over the country.
The studio carries 12-15 brands of guitars with most prices ranging from $2,000-$5,000. D’Angelico Guitars and Eastman Guitars are more reasonably priced options and priced at $750-$1,500. It also consigns and sells vintage instruments. Craig Landau’s Midwood Lutherie operates as its own business within the Midwood Guitar Studio space repairing guitars.
The shop offers guitar and bass clinics throughout the year taught by local and regional professional musicians. Clinics are $15-$50 per person. James Duke from Jesus Culture, Jeffrey Kunde from John Mark McMillan and Anthony Wellington from Victor Wooten have taught clinics in the past few months.
Daniel Seriff will be holding a clinic and a Live Quartet Trio performance at 7 p.m. on July 31 at the studio. Nashville artist Stu Garrard is hosting a guitar and 3rd Power amplifier clinic in August.
Armstrong answered five questions for C5’s Small Business Series:
How is this shop unique?
“There are only a handful of shops like this across the country. Most of this is what you call boutique, smaller yield builders. Most of the builders build less than 200 guitars a year.”
What was your strategy with guitar builders and vendors?
“When I looked at markets, I wanted to find people who only had two, three, four, or five dealers. I didn’t want to be competing with 30 dealers.”
How are you expanding the studio’s exposure to the Charlotte region?
“We have live music about every other month. We’ve had two singer-songwriter events. The next one will be in September.”
What’s the story behind the copper displays?
“[I wanted to] display the guitars and the merchandise like art, like it hasn’t been presented before. That’s why we did the copper.
“Dalton Schiller (a rising junior at University of North Carolina School of the Arts and a friend) was 18 at the time. He made (the copper guitar racks) in his garage in Jacksonville, Fla. It was a summer project. He did all the copper work.”
Which guitar is your favorite?
“My friend Rennie Connolly from the Cayman Islands is responsible for my guitar passions. He has given me several of his Partscasters, which I dearly love.”
Midwood Guitar Studio: 1517 Central Ave.
Hours: 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday; Closed Sunday or by appointment only
Photos: Midwood Guitar Studio, Charlotte Photography
Family history and my own fascination with people and their motivations prompted me to begin this series about Charlotte’s small business owners. Industry, situation and questions will vary. Have a suggestion for a small business owner or entrepreneur to interview? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Small Business Series.”
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