Please excuse this rather lengthy post:
This morning, I have sent the following letters to:
General Manager Natale Swango
Luthiers Mercantile International, Inc.
7975 Cameron Dr., Bldg. 1600, Windsor, CA 95492.
Mr. C. E. Stewart, President
PO Box 900
Athens, OH 45701
Ms. Kay Towsley, Vice President
PO Box 900
Athens, OH 45701
Dear ………….(fill in appropriate name) :
Two years ago, I built my first acoustic guitar. Like many if not most, it was from a kit. I’ve always wanted to build one and the kit approach seemed the best first step. Before I got my kit, I was a bit freaked out by all the things that I just didn’t know how to do. I needed to make sure that I was capable of doing this before I put out a considerable amount of money. The ONLY reason that I went forward with this venture was because I stumbled across a website, Bill Cory’s site kitguitarbuilder.com. That website alone gave me the courage to buy the kit, the supplies, the tools, the books and everything else to start the project. Without that site, I would NOT have even attempted it. Since then, I have been an avid lurker/participant in the kitguitarsforum.com (another of Bill Cory’s websites) as I continue to build my second guitar (this one from scratch).
It has recently come to my attention that neither Luthiers Mercantile International or Stewart-MacDonald, as you know, the two main luthier supply companies in the country, are even tepid supporters of Mr. Cory’s site even though your companies seem to be in a position to gain the most form it.
This last year, Mr. Cory made a desperate appeal for donations from his website forum members to donate funding to keep the site up and from what I understand, barely came up with the money to keep the website running for another year. This method of funding, in all likelihood, will NOT be sufficient in the future to guarantee the survival of these two websites.
I recently e-mailed Mr. Cory and asked him why the two biggest Luthier supply companies in country did not advertise or support a website that did nothing but promote the interest of their company and his reply to me was: “They have both refused to advertise here, saying "they don't get very many 'click-throughs' from forums like this one….Too bad they gauge everything by click-throughs -- I guess they have to have some measurable way to measuring response, but I think we all agree that -- like you said -- they get a heck of a lot of business because of this forum. "
After running a multi-media company for 18 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can say that I learned a thing or two about business. One of the lessons that I did learn is that a business does not succeed by “biting the hand that feeds it”
FACT: People who don’t build guitars, don’t buy from your company. And conversely, I don’t know of a single beginning kit guitar builder or those who continue to build who has not bought from these two companies. Bill Cory has in recent years almost single handily been responsible for a huge growth spurt in the amount of luthiers (amateur and those who continue to build and turn professional). You should be doing EVERYHING imaginable to support anyone who is responsible for more and more people both starting to build and continuing to build guitars. It is appalling that these two companies don’t support this site considering that Mr. Cory’s websites do nothing but promote an activity that your business depends on.
You should be paying him to keep the site up. By not advertising on his site, you again, are in no uncertain terms biting the hand that feeds you. And finally, when/if this site is terminated because of lack funding, not only will your company loose hundreds, probably thousands of dollars in sales but you have to spend your own funds to support hundreds of man hours offering tech support for the kits you sell that are currently supported almost in full by Bill Cory and his websites. What you are doing is the classic definition of the expression “penny wise and dollar STUPID.”
Like many builders, I go to Mr. Cory’s sites for information, researching as I need for my own use as I continue to build guitars. I expect hat I am not alone in that I tend NOT to want to click through to another site until I finish my reading. When I go to LMI or Stewmac, it is usually through a google search later, after I have researched on Mr. Cory’s site. It is NOT about click-throughs but about how many people are driven to build guitars. ALL these folks need supplies and they will find you. The more people who build, the more you will sell.
I strongly urge you to re-consider your policy of not advertising on Mr. Cory’s site. Also please know that I have never met or spoken personally to Mr. Cory and although perhaps one day I will have that honor, I am neither his personal friend or a business acquaintance and have nothing to gain by spending my time on this letter except hopefully the survival of a couple of website that I find invaluable and which succeed wildly at serving the interests of the luthier community.
Sincerely …….. Stuart Gold
19861 Buck Ridge Road
Grass Valley, Ca 95949