Shuffield Music Co.
610 Main St.
Arkadelphia AR 71923
Paul Shuffield, Jr., Owner/Manager
The opening of Shuffield Music Co. in October 2008 was an exciting turn of events for the local music community, which, just a few months prior, had lost the area’s other local music store after six years in business. However, it was also the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Owner/Manager Paul Shuffield, Jr., who had been interested in opening his own musical instrument store for more than two decades.
“I had frequented music stores since taking up the guitar in my early teens, and I was always intrigued by the business,” said Shuffield, who has been a performing musician for more than 30 years. “In the late 1980s, while in college, I was asked to teach guitar lessons at a music store in a neighboring town. That exposure to the inner workings of an independent store—and my involvement in sound system installations—piqued my interest in owning my own store.”
Flash forward to 2008 and Shuffield, who worked in fundraising and community development after graduating college, was finishing a work contract and looking for what to do next. “After long discussions with my family, I decided to fulfill a dream and open a music store,” he stated. “I’ve never regretted that decision.”
With the closest independent store located about 30 miles away and the closest Guitar Center some 60 miles away, Shuffield’s closest competition became the Internet. He opened an 800-square-foot store that “provided a great opportunity to learn the musical needs of our initial target customer base,” he explained. Early on, he knew he was going to have to provide his customers with an in-store experience that was second to none.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that quality customer service is still valued by consumers,” Shuffield affirmed. “It is critical to talk with your customer, to find out their true needs, and to get them a product that will actually fix their problem and provide quality service after the sale. Sure, pricing is a significant factor, and we want to get our customers the product they need without ‘ripping them off,’” he continued. “But, your customers want quality service. They want someone who knows them, understands their needs and values their opinions.”
No doubt contributing to the store’s welcoming atmosphere is the fact that, at Shuffield Music Co., everyone is family. Shuffield’s wife and two of his three sons have been very involved in product selection and offerings; meanwhile, Shuffield’s oldest son has recently taken on a bigger role in the marketing and merchandising of products and services. “It’s resulted in a significant increase in sales,” Shuffield noted.
“The whole family, as well as some close friends, is very active in assisting with installations and sound contracting projects that we are involved in,” added Shuffield, whose parents are also involved in business operations.
With the help of his family, Shuffield has built a one-stop shop for customers in downtown Arkadelphia AR. The store offers a full line of instruments, including guitars, ukuleles, folk instruments, percussion, and band and orchestra, as well as a lessons program to go along with each. It offers instrument rental and repair services, as well as audio, video and lighting sales design and installation services. “All of those,” Shuffield said, “help drive our sales to a great degree. That trend has remained basically constant since opening.”
Shuffield Music Co. even offers some services that you don’t often find in a local music store. Among them, for example, are the custom design and printing of T-shirts and vinyl signs, vintage vinyl and turntable sales, and a wedding registry.
All that has endeared Shuffield Music Co. to the local music community, and it’s allowed the store to grow over the years. First, in 2012, it moved into the downtown district, doubling in size. However, Shuffield noted, “Although we were able to increase our inventory and services, the location didn’t have the traffic patterns we had forecasted prior to the move. So, last May, we moved to our current location: a 2,400-square-foot storefront on the town’s Main St.” He continued, “Since that move, our business has increased by 10 percent over the same period last year.”
In addition to the added exposure from its new location, Shuffield Music Co. has maintained a strong presence online and in the community, thanks to Shuffield’s community development background. He has been able to tap into the skills he gained in that field and use them to build a customer base—all by using social media. “This has been very helpful in getting the word out for us in a measurable manner,” Shuffield remarked. “It’s amazing what power a hashtag can have.”
Offline, Shuffield Music Co. works closely with local businesses and organizations to partner on cooperative advertising opportunities. The store is very involved in local events, either through a level of sponsorship or by providing sound or lighting support. And, it holds a semi-annual Strings for Food event to support the community’s Little Free Pantry.
Shuffield’s ties to the community grow stronger as the years go on, and he is so confident in the long-term success of the business he started eight years ago that the store’s five- and 10-year plans involve future expansions and additional locations, all of which will use the current Shuffield Music Co. as their template.
“Our primary mission in opening the store was to provide quality products and services at affordable prices, and we’ve continued to serve our customers in that manner,” Shuffield declared. “I feel that we have been successful in that focus over the years, and we’ll continue to follow that philosophy in the future. Our main goals are to continue to provide the products and services our customers seek, and to expand into other markets to better serve our existing and future customers.”