Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Ronnie Galloway. I own and run Ronnie’s Music in Haddington and, for the foreseeable future, also work part-time at Edinburgh University
If you had to share one unique selling point of your business, what would it be?
Ronnie’s Music is unashamedly local to East Lothian and aims to serve musicians of all instruments and ages in the region. Very happy to serve customers from other areas however my shop looks to serve the gap which existed in general musical instruments, accessories and repairs in the area between Edinburgh and Berwick-on-Tweed. In addition to that, I think my shop is probably the only one which is managed by a very friendly Border Collie, Milly!
Tell us about the way you interact with local players, venues, teachers etc.
I have a lot of local musicians coming back for repeat purchases or set-ups…as lockdown lifted, word of mouth and social media helped to promote this. I am working with several local teachers in schools and other projects to support their pupils with instruments and accessories as required.
I recently was invited to sit on the panel for one of the local High School’s “Battle of the Bands” competition which was great fun and helps to cement the relationship with the shop and the school and pupils. I’m also in discussions with schools about their supplier list and, now that I’ve been trading a year (albeit most during lockdown), there is confidence to engage with Ronnie’s Music.
I am involved with a local open mic every month and support other open mics and promote gigs in local pubs and clubs. Recently, a local annual music/arts festival was held in Haddington (HaddStock) and I offered musicians taking part a discount and also hosted a small gig in my shop for local alt-folk duo “The Daughters”. Local Radio has also expressed an interest in interviewing me so I look forward to that.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for you in 2022?
2022 started quite well with a good January but with the onset of the war in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis, like all retailers, there is a definite reduction in people spending although I cannot compare to last year as was closed during lockdown!
I opened in December 2020 for 10 days and then closed until April 2021 so it’s been an interesting time! Back to 2022, a huge challenge in addition to the macro economic climate is the difficulty in getting certain supplies and products…all suppliers are facing the same challenges including increased container costs, so everyone’s prices are rising and, sadly this is passed on to the customer…all of this is incredibly tough in an industry where margins are tight as it is.
Tell us about a famous customer?
Fish (former Marillion singer) is local and pops in now and again…a few other quite well known musicians pop in too…banjo player from the Clyde Valley Stompers and former drummer from ‘70’s pop band Pilot. I’m hoping future famous artists will emanate from Ronnie’s Music!
What are you currently listening to?
Eclectic mix of stuff…recently listening to and attempting to play Django Rheinhardt…Ella Fitzgerald…Justin Johnston…The Stranglers…Johnny Marr…Rush…Julian Bream…all sorts!
What drove you to start Ronnie’s?
In middle of lockdown I realised that I was spending a lot of time (and money) buying guitar equipment and exploring more about the instrument…friends were learning new languages and writing etc. and I wanted a project based on my interest in music which would have longevity and potentially be source of income given my ‘day’ job was not interesting me particularly.
I asked a few people about the idea of a music shop for East Lothians who were supportive, wrote a business pland and set up loans with national and local government support, established I could cut my job time to part/time to de-risk my personal income and found premises right in the middle of Haddington. Part of the thinking was to not be in the position in 5 years time thinking “what if I’d opened a shop” or “I wish I’d done that”. Carpe Diem, just got on with it.
A year and 5 months later I’m still enjoying it and am delighted I decided to open Ronnie’s Music…in a pandemic…and recession….must be bonkers! I was interviewed on BBC R4 “PM” programme about people who changed career during the pandemic and I think I used the phrase “if you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got”…time will tell what I’ll get with the shop but for now it’s great fun, is building up loyal customers and I’m learning new things all the time about the music industry and me.