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Open letter to LMI and Stewmac- Please read
Author
Post
Stuart

Total Topics: 38
Total Posts: 76
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
Stewart-MacDonald
PO Box 900
Athens, OH 45701

Ms. Kay Towsley, Vice President
Stewart-MacDonald
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


Stuart Gold

19861 Buck Ridge Road
Grass Valley, Ca 95949
530-346-6942
stuart@shadowandlight.com
www.shadowandlight.com


Sep 08, 09 | 9:55 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Stuart -- thanks, very much. We'll se what happens.

Bill

Sep 08, 09 | 10:46 am
Stuart

Total Topics: 38
Total Posts: 76
Bill........ I hope that this is helpful. I probably should have run it by you first but I was so pissed off when I started to think about it that I just got my dander up and sent it off in the mail. Unless they read it above, they won't receive it for a few days in the mail.

If this fails to gain their interest/attention, perhaps it might be time to start a buyers boycott of the two companies (at least as far as supplies and tools go) and perhaps starting a new page on your site with links to specific tools, supplies, equipment and media, that those business around the country that might offer that can compete with LMI and StewMac. It wouldn't be a one stop shop but many of the types of supplies, books, tools , can perhaps even be purchased at a lower cost then either LMI or StewMAc can/would offer. Who knows, perhaps if LMI or StewMAc actually can see that their bottom line is suffering, even if just a bit, they will stand up and do what's right just to save their own asses.

When I purchased the Guitar Set-up" by Kent Everett, the other day, I purposely did not buy it from either LMI or Stewmac and if they want to support our need for a great website for guitar building, I will support them, until then, I'm going to look around a lot more for deals!

Sep 08, 09 | 11:28 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Well, actually, Stuart, if we are to name names, here, the only company that has ever contributed anything not required of any appreciable amount is John Hall at Blues Creek Guitars. John has been quite generous with his monetary support and in some months has kept me from taking down the whole shebang.

For what it's worth, I can support boycotts in some situations, but this doesn't reach that level of importance in my mind. Since I took the advertising off the site (because people couldn't stop arguing and pinning me in the middle of it), there's no real reason for any member to keep their business away from potential advertisers. I haven't asked anyone to advertise for over a year.

It just seems that people -- including small companies -- who use all forums as a form of free advertising supported by the forum operator, don't realize the costs and time involved, or don't care about it as long as their products get sold with little cost for the publicity.

I don't want to belabor this point, though, so let's stop it here. I very much appreciate your contacting those companies for me with the information you sent to them.

I'll just continue to rely on the "donate" button at the top. If people send a little bit now and then, it makes it all worthwhile.

Bill


Sep 08, 09 | 12:00 pm
Stuart

Total Topics: 38
Total Posts: 76
Sorry Bill.......... I'll get off my soap box now! I guess that I get a bit carried away on occasion :)

Maybe the larger companies who have the most to gain can "push" the donate buttons on occasion and help both themselves and us out a bit!!

Sep 08, 09 | 1:07 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Stuart -please don't apologize in any way. Thanks a ton for your concern and activism.

I agree -- Hmm -- I never though of simply asking the companies to push the donate button!

Bill

Sep 08, 09 | 1:39 pm
Tuneful

Total Topics: 3
Total Posts: 47
Bill, it seems to me that you should have a link that people can click to make purchases from those sites.
Then there would be no arguing the fact that sales are made as a direct result of this place.

Sep 27, 09 | 5:27 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Good idea, and I talked with them about it at the very beginning of this forum, in March/April 2006. They (LMII and SM -- Martin's nose was up in the clouds so they would not even respond) said they don't get many click-throughs from the forums they advertise on. They've continued on a few (OLF, MIMF, UMGF) because they just "felt they ought to," but they aren't getting on any new ones.

After I talked with them, I decided I don't want the big guys advertising here. I don't want to be in the position of liking something they do when someone else doesn't like it, and having members here think I'm just defending them because they advertise.

Bill

Sep 27, 09 | 7:22 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
And ... The main thing I think everyone has to remember about forums and paying for them, is this:

The forum is a benefit to each of us as members, much more so than it is to the companies. We are the ones who should voluntarily support it. That most members do not offer support is due to the "Free TV" mentality: We expect sponsors to bring all this to us for nothing. That's why nobody who runs a forum makes any money at it.

I'll leave this thread open, but what I said above is the part all of us should take to heart. The big companies don't need the 800 of us, ... but we need their products and we will all continue to use them -- so this whole thread represents a moot point.

Sep 27, 09 | 7:28 am



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