Maxwell’s House of Music
1710 E. 10th St.
Jeffersonville IN 47130
Mon – Fri: 12pm – 9pm
Sat: 10am – 5pm
Mark Maxwell, Owner
Mark Maxwell grew up in the musical instrument retail business. His parents opened Mom’s Music in Louisville KY, on the border of southern Indiana, in 1981. Maxwell began to work in the shop at age 16. Twenty years ago, he opened up a satellite Mom’s Music location in Jeffersonville IN and, five years ago, he decided to revamp and rename his music shop, giving it a personality all its own.
“I worked for my parents for a long time,” Maxwell began, “and I learned a lot from them about the importance of keeping the approach entertaining and unique. They’ve done that so well.” He continued, “Over the years, I’ve found that most music stores were just a room with gear in it…no atmosphere. I’ve seen the same old music store 100 times around the country.” He added, “But I love going to places like IKEA or Apple or The Sharper Image. It’s an experience…something special. When I would go shopping with my wife, I would say, ‘Oh, wow! This is great.’ I’d wonder why they never made a music store that way.”
So, Maxwell secured a loan and forged ahead, turning his store into the music mall of his dreams. Maxwell’s House of Music is located in a 12,500-square-foot building that formerly housed a four-screen movie theater. That means it was already broken up into rooms that were set up to handle sound. As you walk from room to room, you are reminded of the spaces in which people are inspired to play music.
In one such room, Maxwell faithfully recreated the local coffee shop, complete with a Keurig machine that sells coffee and tea for a nominal fee. “We’ve sold so many small PAs and pedals in the coffee shop,” Maxwell said. “They fly out the door because we are showing the product. I can see customers getting excited and saying, ‘I’ve got to have this.’”
There is a basement, a child’s bedroom, a camping area complete with logs and a fake fire pit, a worship space and a home studio; there’s even a bathroom that’s decked out with a clawfoot tub and a toilet filled with candy. “A customer told us once that he wrote a song in the bathroom, so he liked that there was one here,” Maxwell related. Also, in a nod to the garage bands of Maxwell’s youth, the store has its own garage for drummers. It has a real garage door, provided by local business Cunningham Door & Window, as well as walls decorated with license plates. Those are supplied by customers, showing all the places they’re from.
“The idea is to make people comfortable so that they want to buy instruments and take them home,” Maxwell emphasized. He credits his wife, Angie, and team member Jennifer Stricker with giving the store a feminine touch, which helps to maintain its unique, welcoming feel. “We spend time with all our customers when they come in here,” he added. “I don’t see any customers as wasted time, no matter if they have money or not. One day, they will be able to afford an instrument, and they’ll come back. You walk in, and we spend time together.”
Even the store’s lessons program has its own one-of-a-kind sensibility. Maxwell’s House of Music is home to 15 lesson rooms that, according to Maxwell, the teachers decorate themselves. “I tell them, ‘Make this you, not just ceiling tiles and white,’” he said. “I say, ‘Make it fun for the customers to be part of this thing.’”
In addition to the teaching staff, Maxwell’s House of Music currently employs six salespeople, all of whom play in local bands and use the products they sell. “Our staff can tell what’s a good product,” Maxwell affirmed. “We are the ones who can say, ‘This guy isn’t sure about what he needs, but we can show him.’ It’s like being a personal shopper. We love that we get to do this with our customers.”
Crafting the right product mix is a very important factor in the store’s success. Many of its key SKUs come from annual visits to the NAMM Show. “Four of us go to NAMM and visit every booth,” Maxwell stated. “At some booths, we’ll spend one minute; at some, we’ll stay longer. But we see every product there.” He added, “I’m just not sure other stores do that every year.”
It was at those NAMM Show booths that Maxwell and his staff discovered companies like Parker Guitars, Line 6 and Mérida Guitars. “The cool thing about new products for small dealers is that you can order them and call everyone in town to come in and see them,” Maxwell enthused. “There are products I would like to carry because they have a name, but I have a product that I think is better. We find products, show them and people buy them. We do well because we build face-to-face relationships with our customers. That isn’t so easy for an online dealer.”
How the store sells is the final piece of the puzzle. Maxwell works hard to make the store an interactive experience, similar to what his staff and he find at the NAMM Show.
“At NAMM, the booths have a live demo and they show you why you should have that instrument in your store,” he began. “But the store also has to demo, because customers don’t know how to use everything. You need to show them why they want a particular instrument; you have to sell the customer on the product. Don’t just tell it—show it.”
Maxwell makes sure to refine the demo process with his staff constantly, because he sees that as the key to a successful sales strategy. “If it’s something hands on, like a guitar, their job is to hand it to the customer and let them get comfortable. When it’s something like a voice processor or an intricate piece, they’ve got to be able to show them.”
Maxwell concluded with a salient observation: “I know what we’re doing is working, because a lot of people are walking out the door with gear.”