Retailers and manufacturers describe how they have found inspiration and motivation during quarantine.

The last six months presented personal and business challenges that have affected us all, from the owners of large companies to the many behind-the-scenes faces that make our industry hum. Yet in spite of setbacks, quarantines and new rules for social engagement, there’s no denying that the folks in our beloved industry are an optimistic bunch, able to weather whatever life brings.
Many of them were able to use their time productively to learn or try something new, either for their business or
personally; to accomplish something they previously hadn’t found time for; or to learn something new about
In that spirit, here are some ways our MI colleagues made their time behind closed doors productive.
“I spent most of quarantine with my family. I also watched Long & McQuade livestreams, which inspired me to spend some time with my guitars and set up some ART Recording gear that I had around the house. Then, Yorkville and Starfish Medical established a partnership to produce ventilators, so we stopped whatever we were doing to get the word out. Other highlights for me were spending time with my family and helping my parents, and that one time I ran into Gordon Lightfoot on a walk. The pandemic affects everyone, even Canadian folk legends.”
— James Greenspan, Marketing and Communications Manager, Yorkville Sound
“I’ve taken an online college course to stay up on current marketing trends, and I’ve been using the time I would have been commuting to try to step up my workout routine. I should be ready for my first 5K fun run by the time they’re permitted again!”
— Trish Dulka, Vice President, Communications/Advertising, Hal Leonard Corp.
“Streaming has been a main method of reaching audiences lately, and gear related to professional streaming presentations has been really important. Because of streaming’s visual nature, lighting has been critical to many folks. We spent a lot of time working with customers on finding the best solutions for their individual needs, and found ourselves learning more about streaming applications as well. For me personally, it’s been inspiring to see how people have used our products in their presentations to help their businesses and brands at a time when other live events haven’t been happening. I was continually impressed by the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of our users, especially in the most trying of times.”
— Geoff Short, Global Brand Manager, CHAUVET DJ
“My wife and I put together a garden for the first time. We’ve wanted to get one going for years, but life seemed too busy to get that project ‘in the ground.’ Since the world shut down, and for a variety of other reasons, we decided to get it going this spring. It’s been an excellent project for us to work on together, and we should have done it long ago.”
— Thad Tegtmeyer, Vice President of Campus Sales Operations and Artist Relations, Sweetwater
“Who would have thought that there would be some positive, unintended consequences of this horrible time? For us, it’s been moving to online lessons and, more recently, online recitals. To our credit, we switched to online lessons immediately after we were forced to close on March 17, which made it a challenge for our teachers, but was beneficial in keeping students. Much to my surprise, the success rate has been amazing; we are signing up new students almost every day. But even more surprising are our online recitals (15 so far), which have been absolutely charming, have had parents participating for the first time and have given me the opportunity to see all of our students up close. We will be continuing lessons online for the foreseeable future.”
— Myrna Sislen, Owner of Middle C Music
“First, we ensured the safety and well-being of our team. Then, we identified changing needs in the industry and devoted our efforts to mission-critical projects and softwaresystem upgrades. Our quick response to the pandemic and support for each other during a challenging time maintained a high level of productivity for our company and business partners. To help our customers generate much-needed cash flow during the lockdown, we developed creative solutions, such as product discounts, co-op marketing and a gift card assistance program. Additionally, we extended terms for our customers and reached out to them to share our experiences and offer our support. Throughout the lockdown, we kept shipping every day to avoid interrupted business for suppliers who couldn’t ship and customers who needed inventory. We are grateful for our relationships with our partners and retailers, and we feel fortunate that our company can lend them a hand during a severe economic crisis.”
— John Hennessey, Co-President, The Music People
“During quarantine in Florida, getting out on the boat with my boys has been a fun way to stay socially distanced, get some fresh air and go for it on the wakeboard.”
— Crystal Morris, President/CEO, Gator Cases
“We saw our overall business grow more than 200 percent during the worst lockdown months, mostly from ecommerce. Our team had to reinvent — on the fly — our entire outgoing warehouse process in order to keep up with the volume. We’ve emerged significantly stronger since.”
— Bobby Montemurro, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Alto Music
“At Mike Risko Music, we were already doing some Zoom lessons pre-pandemic, but transitioned our whole education program to virtual starting March 16. This included lessons, classes and musical theater. Our store was physically closed for 84 days here in New York, but we never stopped working and kept our whole staff working virtually through the entire stay-at-home order. We also finally launched our ecommerce site that was many years in the making. What did we learn about ourselves through the pandemic and from being in the epicenter here in New York? We believe if you work hard, you can get through anything, even a pandemic. Disruptions can help you become even more creative, and we are excited for the virtual programs we’ve created, which we’ll keep running long after the pandemic has passed.”
— Mike and Miriam Risko, Owners, Mike Risko Music
“During quarantine, I actually got back to writing and recording my own music, and I’m currently working on a half a dozen new songs. Diving into the creative process again helped reconnect me, on a personal level, with the products we make and sell at Fender.”
— Justin Norvell, Executive Vice President, Fender Products
“Since the quarantine, I think we’ve all had to adjust our lives and come up with a delicate balance between work and leisure time. While I’ve been extremely busy with Guitar Center business, I’ve also been able to take up a number of new hobbies including beginner guitar lessons via Guitar Center Lessons online, baking and my “victory virus” garden. While my guitar skills are still evolving, I think I’ve mastered making tarts, and my garden of tomatoes and peppers are a close second.”
— Jeannine D’Addario, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, Guitar Center
“When the impact of COVID-19 came into full focus in March, concerns about food scarcity led to us as a family putting as much as we could into the garden and converting every available space (even our front yard!) to growing food: new beds, new trees, even converting the area around our chicken coop to grow food and adding new chickens to our flock, all invaluable opportunities to teach my children reliance skills. At present, we’re growing everything from A-Z; from apples and asparagus to watermelons and zucchini. If it can grow in the ground, we’re growing it! And, I’ve learned how to can as a means to preserve our garden’s bounty, along with sharing with our neighbors, family and friends. It’s provided a valuable lesson for all of us about patience, perseverance and humility.”
— Chalise Zolezzi, Director of Public Relations and Social Media, NAMM
“Due to our communications products, Audio-Technica was deemed an essential business. We were still open during the quarantine, although the majority of our staff was working from home. Working from home scared me. A lot. As someone who has only had an office job, I wasn’t certain I could do it. Long story short, I was super focused and productive, often having to remind myself to get up and walk around!”
— Gary Boss, Marketing Director, Professional Markets, Audio-Technica
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