Slick new Tom Lee Music opens

Photo by Tanis Lischewski
Photo by Tanis Lischewski

This past weekend marked the opening of a brand new Tom Lee Music facility on the corner of Granville and Georgia.

Vice President Graham Blank admits that like so many other retail companies, adapting to the pace of modern technology has been the largest obstacle for the still private musical instrument dealer. Tom Lee Music’s glass half full approach to a reduction of physical space that comes with the move is to affectionately refer to their new business model as ‘click and mortar’ as opposed to the old-school ‘brick and mortar’ style shopping experience.

The desire to stay on the Granville strip is important to Tom Lee Music, who has seen a good deal of growth and success on the busy street, but also recognize the need to scale back on some of their operation’s overhead.

Getting Inside Tom Lee Music

Tom Lee Music spent some time with us media-types on Thursday providing a walk-through of the new facility. Noticed immediately on the guided tour is the unique design of the 14,000 square foot retail level. The modern appeal gives the new Tom Lee Music a relatively profound upgrade in overall appearance separating departments by instrument family.

Located above the London Drugs on the bustling corner near to both of the Granville Street Skytrain stations, the busy intersection should allow the company more exposure to individuals who may not have made the trek over in years past.

Tom Lee has increased their focus on electronic drums and hybrid pianos that play both as standard and with headphone options. This may, in fact, turn out to be a wise decision for a branch located in a locale that rarely affords residents the luxury of a full house as a dwelling to casually practice within.

Tom Lee Music on Granville Street started off as a piano store and continues to focus on the ivories, even with the recent move. Upon walking into North America’s largest piano showroom, one will notice the 250 hanging acoustic lanterns designed to defuse the sound from the high ceilings. According to Vice President Blank, the creation of ‘dead air’ that the hanging lanterns that act as mini-floating baffles provide in settling down any reverberation in the open room contributes to a much nicer sounding exhibition hall.

Tom Lee Music And The Community

Another positive of the new Tom Lee Music is the announced continuation of clinics, lessons, and performances that the downtown location has become synonymous for.

Tom Lee Music is also proud to boast of its integrated sound, light and video options which now gives the store the ability to record and broadcast performances it will host across their several locations around B.C. and Canada. Though the current auditorium is limited to an audience of 70, the hope is that through the store’s ability to live stream they will share some of their in-house act to a much larger crowd. The ability for Tom Lee Music to share these clinics across the nation as well as archive performances for the convenience of their customers has management understandably excited.

For a store that prides themselves on a ground-level relationship with the community, one of the more disappointing aspects of the new location is the decision to discontinue the rental program. Vital to so many people without the income or desire to buy a device that they may only have a use for, over a small window of time, the rental program was important to many in the community for a host of reasons. 

Adaptation

In the end, the Tom Lee Music’s choice to sell the old location has resulted in the company’s indefinite ability to stay on Granville Street. Losing some of the overhead while adopting a new mindset to streamline business while acknowledging and embracing current consumer habits, all the while gaining a cleaner and modern aesthetic has a lot of people at Tom Lee Music smiling. The sleek design of the building coupled with the vast array of shiny new instruments provides an exciting environment to both customer and staff alike. We often hear about a downsizing to a company cognitively reframed as ‘an exciting chance to re-examine our position in the industry’ or some such rhetoric that nobody, least of which the person selling it would ever buy. However, in the case of the new Tom Lee Music located at 650, West Georgia one can conceivably wrap their head around the idea that the music epicenter believes the Kool-Aid it is shilling and is, in turn, honest about the excitement that can manifest with this ‘rebirth’.

The new store has done a tremendous job with how they have modeled their new location and aside from the occasional ‘intimacy’ of the layout and the rental program going the way of the dodo bird Tom Lee Music should see many rewarding years with their new ‘click and mortar’ approach.

Photo Gallery by Tanis Lischewski: