Few music stores can lay claim to a reputation quite like that of Logans Pianos.
For 100 years, the independent, family-owned Sydney retailers have established themselves as one of the country’s most respected and beloved music stores, with their expertise in pianos, strings and orchestral instruments and world-famous customer service making them a household name for many in Sydney’s music scene.
As they gear up to celebrate their 100th anniversary this month, we sat down with the store’s digital marketing guru Daniel Holmes to find out more about the history of Logans, the brands they carry, their legacy and what’s up next for the iconic Sydney retailer.
Introduce us to Logans Pianos – who’s at the business, and how long have they been there for?
Logans Pianos is a family-run business, with Chris and Geoff Logan – who are third and fourth generation Logans – running the business as we work into our hundredth year.
Geoff is a third generation piano tuner, who’s very very good at what he does – some would even argue the best in Australia. Chris is mostly a piano and strings specialist, but he’s also very good with guitars and a variety of other things. He’s one of those miraculous people who just seems to know everything about instruments, even though he doesn’t play anything himself.
There’s a variety of other people from the local community who are heavily involved in the business – Irene, who is our school liaison and mainly works with local schools and teachers; our strings and piano specialist Clover; and a few people who work in general musical instruments, dealing with guitars, brass and wind. I’ve been with the store for a number of years, working in a few different roles before settling on digital marketing.
Logans Pianos is celebrating its 100th year this year, which is quite remarkable considering you’ve only embraced the world of digital retail this year. Is there anything else that you think attributes to you guys having maintained that reputation over the years?
Basically, it’s because we live and die by our reputation. We could be another big box moving store if we really wanted to be. If we needed to, we could just be shovelling things out the door for nothing, but that’s not really what we want to do. We’re more interested in providing that old world customer service experience where you give people something that lasts.
We’ve also taken that to the other instruments that we sell as well. With strings, we’re one of the few places in Sydney that still do the full professional setup on every single one of our string instruments, and we do it with guitars as well. A lot of us here are musicians, and certainly all of us are customers of other stores as well, so at the end of the day, we’re just trying to treat customers how we’d like to be treated ourselves.
There’s nothing more frustrating than going into a music shop and picking up a guitar off the wall and having it be buzzy and not set-up properly. You guys offer quite a comprehensive after-sale service on a range of instruments too. Could you tell me a bit about that?
We stand by the work that we do on our instruments. After you’ve bought the instrument, you’re free to bring it back as many times as you want in the first year, because we understand that everybody has different tastes. We offer one year free servicing for guitar and violin so that people can bring them in as many times as they want it so we can get it right – not just based on what we think is right, but based on what the customer thinks is.
You’ve got pretty good eye for instruments in the store. What does Logans look out for when selecting instruments to join their inventory?
The first thing obviously is consistency and build quality, so it’s always things that provide value for the customer as well. We’re really big fans of Yamaha, because their failure rates are so negligible – it’s not even worth talking about.
Fender Music Australia is the same; they’ve really upped their game for quality across all their brands in the last five years, particularly Fender and Gretsch. We also stock a range of Gliga, Takamine, Gibson and Epiphone instruments, as well as brands like Behringer, Beale and more.
When you’re dealing with things like beginner instruments, that’s a really hard thing to find. So we work very hard on curating our range so that we’re not just selling cheap OEM stuff, although we obviously understand the demand for that.
For us, it’s not about up-selling – it’s about knowing beginners will be be happier with that instrument, and that if they settle for something cheap, they’re going to regret it. We want people to enjoy the sound and experience of playing their own instrument instead of spending their entire lives being like ‘if only, if only.’
Logans has only embraced the world of e-commerce and online retail quite recently. For such an old and respected store, how has that transition gone?
You’re right – in the last 12 months we’ve really hit online retail in a very big way, which has been a bit of a challenge, because it’s something that we were kind of late to come to compared to a lot of stores in Australia. The real challenge for us is ‘how do we translate our customer service experience into an online environment’, which is something that we’re still working on doing.
I think we’re getting pretty close to emulating a lot of that through social media, where we’re really trying hard to give customers that one-on-one attention and provide them with as much information on instruments as possible so that people can make educated choices by themselves.
Over the last hundred years, I can imagine that there would have been some very interesting characters and probably even some very prominent people come through Logans to buy instruments. Do you have any stories you’d like to share?
We do have a number of connections with famous people and institutions. I’m a little concerned that most of the stories that we have to tell about these people aren’t particularly positive, although Geoff does like to tell the story about selling a piano to Elton John, and wishing he’d kept the cheque that Elton gave him, because the cheque with his signature on it was probably worth more than the cheque itself!
Where do you see the store going in the future, and how do you envision Logans sitting within both Sydney’s music retail scene and the broader Australian musical community?
Of course, the business answer is I’d like to see us expand, but for me, the personal answer really is that I’d like to see us expand with our losing touch of who we are. The big challenge for us is, going to be integrating further into the digital world – and not better at that in the sense of moving huge amounts of stock out the door, but better in the sense that we’re making our online and in-store experiences as similar as they can possibly be.
Finally – where can we visit Logans Pianos, and how can we access the store or get in touch with the team online?
Our physical store is located at 250 Burwood Road in Burwood, Sydney. We’ve got a range of social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and you can also get in touch with us via email ([email protected]) or on our phone ((02) 9744 2400).
Head to Logans Pianos to find out more about the store and browse their inventory today.