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Friday, June 15, 2012

Are Guitar Center Employees Less Horrible Now?

Posted by on Fri, Jun 15, 2012 at 10:03 AM

Ugh, Guitar Center has been an unfortunate force to reckon with ever since I started playing music, and sometimes it is the only option when you are on tour in some weird town and need to make an emergency purchase. But when I think of every lame comment I’ve heard from a sales rep there, from overt chauvinism (“this girl was a pretty good drummer, not just for a chick, but you know, actually good!”) to patronizing comments presuming you don’t know what you are doing, to aggressive masturbatory peacock-ing (I had a sales guy actually pick a guitar out of my hands and try to continue a sales conversation while he casually shredded out a solo) I get pretty bummed.

That said, last year I ran across a really interesting interview in the Denver Westword with Guitar Center Vice President of Operations Laura Taylor about how she was was fully aware of the way women get treated in the stores and was trying to improve it.

"Being a female, being a player, being in a male-dominated industry for so many years, I was the one who approached my boss [Gene Joly, Executive Vice President of Guitar Center stores]. I said, "Look: this is something that we really need to focus on." It has been off everyone's radar, and it is just how it has always been...One of the Girls Rock Camps didn't want to join into this alliance with Guitar Center. They didn't want to take any of the opportunities we were able to give because they had had such bad experiences in our stores. We are still working with them to change that. But when we hear stuff like that — and I've heard that pretty much verbatim from customers, that the experience is just awful — you wouldn't want anyone to treat anybody that way. Again, it is our industry. It is male-dominated. It always has been. In the 22 years I've been with Guitar Center — which, I mean I'm 42, so most of my life I have been in this industry — I've seen where it has evolved and where it hasn't, and where we need to go. I'm really excited, and I really do believe that we can make a difference and we are going to."

I thought that was pretty awesome that some steps were being made to fix this! Maybe now I wont have to mentally prepare myself for demeaning comments when I just wanna buy cables! Except I haven't really needed anything from there lately, and that interview took place last year. Has anyone noticed any difference in the way that you are getting treated in the stores?

 

Comments (23) RSS

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23
Being a guitar center salesman, I always make sure to treat every customer (no matter how obvious it seems that they are shopping for someone else) like they are a pro player, regardless of gender. I know they are trying to push that vibe in at least my store in Wisconsin, and I hope it gets to all the stores. We are really trying!
Posted by aaronwaudio on December 7, 2013 at 7:59 PM · Report this
antiuser 22
I'm glad that in Seattle we have locally owned shops that provide us with an alternative to giving more money to Bain Capital. Yeah, Bain Capital owns GC.
Posted by antiuser http://antiuser.org on February 18, 2013 at 8:47 AM · Report this
21
I'm so glad that I've found this article! To be honest, I am surprised that one of the VPs of Guitar Center is a woman. That is refreshing. The fact that this is surprising to me is sad! :( We still have a long way to go for gender equality, I am afraid! But good for Laura Taylor for standing up for what's right and taking ACTION to make change.

I waltzed into GC just yesterday. Everytime I have to go there, I am nervous, because when I walk in, I always feel self-conscious, to be honest. Which is RIDICULOUS, because I am a professional musician. LOL. I was looking for a specific item, and I didn't want to go searching for it, so I waited in a short line to talk to one of the salespeople in the pro-audio section. He was very nice, but he kind of gave me this "look", like, "Ohhhh this sweet innocent young girl who doesn't know what she's doing" (Ladies, I know you know that "look"), and he got the item and sent it to the cashier. I'm pretty sure he whispered something to him before he checked me out, and the cashier said, "Is this it for you Sweetie"? Unless you are my boyfriend, please don't call me Sweetie.

Even if you don't have an experience quite like that, Guitar Center tends to have a chauvenistic, sometimes misogynistic air about it, and I hope it will change. Meanwhile, if that means having to assert myself or "prove" myself when I go to GC, I will. I am just as qualified, just as talented a musician as a man is.

I pray that God's will be done here on Earth one day, and I believe it will- men and women are beautifully created equally in His eyes! :)
Posted by kambermusic on February 15, 2013 at 9:13 AM · Report this
20
I'm so glad that I've found this article! To be honest, I am surprised that one of the VPs of Guitar Center is a woman. That is refreshing. The fact that this is surprising to me is sad! :( We still have a long way to go for gender equality, I am afraid! But good for Laura Taylor for standing up for what's right and taking ACTION to make change.

I waltzed into GC just yesterday. Everytime I have to go there, I am nervous, because when I walk in, I always feel self-conscious, to be honest. Which is RIDICULOUS, because I am a professional musician. LOL. I was looking for a specific item, and I didn't want to go searching for it, so I waited in a short line to talk to one of the salespeople in the pro-audio section. He was very nice, but he kind of gave me this "look", like, "Ohhhh this sweet innocent young girl who doesn't know what she's doing" (Ladies, I know you know that "look"), and he got the item and sent it to the cashier. I'm pretty sure he whispered something to him before he checked me out, and the cashier said, "Is this it for you Sweetie"? Unless you are my boyfriend, please don't call me Sweetie.

Even if you don't have an experience quite like that, Guitar Center tends to have a chauvenistic, sometimes misogynistic air about it, and I hope it will change. Meanwhile, if that means having to assert myself or "prove" myself when I go to GC, I will. I am just as qualified, just as talented a musician as a man is.

I pray that God's will be done here on Earth one day, and I believe it will- men and women are beautifully created equally in His eyes! :)
Posted by kambermusic on February 15, 2013 at 9:11 AM · Report this
19
As a former GC employee, take it from me as a consistently top producer, GC sucks on many levels! They are the WALMART of music stores. They have virtually destroyed most of the family owned stores intentionally. The typical corporate mentality in every regard, especially towards their employees. which they treat like crap and expect way too much for too little in return. Total incompetent, uncaring, no people skills managers. Revolving door employee mentality. They know every kid would love to work there, so minimum wage never changes, no raises, incentives period, (They actually decreased commission rates recently) regardless of tenure, experience and dedicated hard work. Check out the class-action lawsuit they offered to settle for 3.1 million dollars for not paying due wages to their already starving, underpaid employee's. Very click orientated, must kiss the lame managers butt, or be outed, regardless of performance. As far as the customers...They will "steal" your used gear for trade, very misleading (bordering illegal) deceptive advertising. I could go-on-and forever. BTW this also applies to Musicians Friend, also Guitar Center! DO yourself and Community a favor...Please if at all possible buy from your local (or drive a little) family store, in most cases you get just as good or better of a deal, and better service and your money will be better invested!

kzaloba@yahoo.com
Posted by Kevin Zaloba on November 27, 2012 at 2:24 AM · Report this
18
As a former GC employee, take it from me as a consistently top producer, GC sucks on many levels! They are the WALMART of music stores. They have virtually destroyed most of the family owned stores intentionally. The typical corporate mentality in every regard, especially towards their employees. which they treat like crap and expect way too much for too little in return. Total incompetent, uncaring, no people skills managers. Revolving door employee mentality. They know every kid would love to work there, so minimum wage never changes, no raises, incentives period, (They actually decreased commission rates recently) regardless of tenure, experience and dedicated hard work. Check out the class-action lawsuit they offered to settle for 3.1 million dollars for not paying due wages to their already starving, underpaid employee's. Very click orientated, must kiss the lame managers butt, or be outed, regardless of performance. As far as the customers...They will "steal" your used gear for trade, very misleading (bordering illegal) deceptive advertising. I could go-on-and forever. BTW this also applies to Musicians Friend, also Guitar Center! DO yourself and Community a favor...Please if at all possible buy from your local (or drive a little) family store, in most cases you get just as good or better of a deal, and better service and your money will be better invested!

kzaloba@yahoo.com
Posted by Kevin Zaloba on November 27, 2012 at 2:20 AM · Report this
17
double comment fail! this is my first time ever posting anything here... sorry guys :)
Posted by Stacey Spencer on July 21, 2012 at 9:00 PM · Report this
16
Hey thanks Lisa / Brian / Ox!

I'm a little late to the party here, but this is Stacey Spencer - I am the store manager of Guitar Center Seattle. As a female drummer, long time touring musician, and employee of GC for about a decade, I can totally sympathize with a lot of what you all are saying. This industry has such a long history of sexism, and guitar shops have historically been the worst culprits. The cool thing is that GC is taking a strong, public stance to address the problem and legitimately working to get better. I am one of the contributors to this effort, and I am always open to hearing feedback and suggestions on how we can get improve. I can be found easily at http://stores.guitarcenter.com/seattle - and my door is always open! Feel free to track me down next time you're in the shop, because I love meeting fellow female musicians.

Thanks for helping make this community of ours a better place to make music,

Stacey
Posted by Stacey Spencer on July 21, 2012 at 8:57 PM · Report this
15
Hey - thanks Lisa / Brian / Ox!
I'm a little late to the party here - but my name is Stacey Spencer and I am the store manager of GC Seattle. As a female drummer, long time touring musician, and employee of GC for about a decade, I can totally sympathize with a lot of what you all are talking about. This industry has such a history of sexism, and guitar shops are often the worst culprits. The cool thing is that GC is making strong, public efforts to lead the charge in getting better. I am a big contributor to this effort, and I would LOVE to hear any specific feedback directly at any time. I can be found easily at http://stores.guitarcenter.com/Seattle - and my door is always open!

Thanks for making this community of ours a better place to make music.

Stacey
Posted by blacksheepstacey on July 21, 2012 at 8:48 PM · Report this
he whose ox is gored 14
I'll say this about the Seattle GC, we started this band as employees of Guitar Center in a time where I wouldn't be caught dead in one. There are always awesome people working there, but it only takes a few obnoxious mulletheads to ruin anything. Since we've left, we still shop there quite a bit, and the staff really has improved. We have a bunch of friends that still work there, and they've managed to train people to be less in-your-face about everything while keeping the sax playing douchebags out of management roles. It really shows.
Posted by he whose ox is gored http://www.facebook.com/hewhoseoxisgoredseattle on June 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM · Report this
13
@11, don't know about amazing selection of merchandise (usually I just need some sticks, or a chord or something) but the people at American Music have been pretty easy to deal with. Plus I've heard good things about their rental shop.
Posted by paulus on June 15, 2012 at 2:28 PM · Report this
tallchris 12
@11: Trading, Georgetown Music (aka Trading South), American Music are all pretty good. Emerald City Guitars has lots of expensive vintage stuff but (in my limited experience) a nice staff and some occasional deals.
Posted by tallchris http://policeteeth.bandcamp.com on June 15, 2012 at 2:25 PM · Report this
11
This begs the question: are there any good music stores in Seattle (aside from Trading Musician)? Given the amount of people playing music in this city, you would think we would have one absolutely incredible resource (like, say, Chicago's really overpriced but full of history Music Exchange). Instead, I feel like we have a bunch of "it'll do in a pinch" guitar stores that have something sorta like what you're looking for but not exactly what you're looking for. Dudes and ladies, where do you go to purchase cool gear in this city?
Posted by Casual_Observer on June 15, 2012 at 2:07 PM · Report this
10
#9, you just reminded me of their Black Friday commercial:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMqucWNMY

A bunch of dudes, a girl in the acoustic guitar room who "Really wants to learn to play!" and the other girl with the keyboards.
Posted by virginia mason on June 15, 2012 at 1:49 PM · Report this
9
"Oh, you play keyboards? Sorry, I mistook you for a musician."
Posted by paulus on June 15, 2012 at 1:34 PM · Report this
DavidG 8
I've had some really crappy obnoxious salespeople in the past, but it seems like recently there have been more women working in the SLU store at least, who have tended to be more helpful and less pushy. Knowing when to back the fuck off is a #1 skill for any sales person, and from my last few trips it seems like they're getting a clue.
Posted by DavidG http://portableshrines.com on June 15, 2012 at 1:32 PM · Report this
7
You said it, Paulus. I cant even imagine being a woman and having to go in there. My own experience is that of being upsold on the cheapest sticks available after telling the dude (its always a dude) that I have $9 to my name and need one pair of sticks. "Welllllll....you COULD get those but these grafite Power Blaster Specials are on sale for $14 and you'll get waaaaay more action on the rebound....blarghffff." Total fucking assholes, and Im a dude! That said, the ladies that work there are usually pleasant and the 2 times in the last year Ive had to go there, even the dudes seem to be coming around, a little at least. I go to Trading Musician whenever possible.
Posted by Silky Pete on June 15, 2012 at 12:46 PM · Report this
6
#1, That happened to me when I went in with my husband. I bought an amp there and instead of saying anything to me, the salesman immediately turned to my husband and said, "So, are you in a band, too?"

I also overheard a salesman helping two women ask, "So, are there any dudes in your band?" When they said "Yes," He said "Awesome." Like, how is that awesome?

The sexism there was pretty bizarre. I always left there feeling like I'd time travelled back to the 50s. I wanted to blurt out, "Surprise, girls do things!"

But there are some cool women that work there, as well as one guy who treated me like a normal person.
Posted by virginia mason on June 15, 2012 at 11:59 AM · Report this
5
I have not noticed a difference at the store level, but Guitar Center has been really good to (at least) the Bay Area Girls Rock Camp and the Willie Mae Rock Camp NYC over the last couple years. They donate equipment like cables and and give campers and volunteers like a million 20% off cards. At the corporate level it seems like changes are being made, but the employees are still working with a total brohiem-ish vibe in my opinion.
Posted by mega69420 http://www.rumbletowne.com/rtr/ on June 15, 2012 at 11:52 AM · Report this
tallchris 4
It does seem that there are more women working at Guitar Center(s) now than when I first went to one in 2002 or so.

Honestly, I'd just prefer if no one came up and talked to me the few times a year I go to Guitar Center (usually on tour to replace something that broke or went missing or to kill time).
Posted by tallchris http://policeteeth.bandcamp.com on June 15, 2012 at 11:40 AM · Report this
Estey 3
I am really mystified there isn't an Adult Swim show called something like Guitar Center, with stories as outlandish as Children's Hospital -- and would probably be totally true.
Posted by Estey on June 15, 2012 at 11:08 AM · Report this
2
All trips to Guitar Center suck. I can't imagine throwing rampant sexism on top of it all. The only helpful employee I've ever encountered with the guy who ran the drum shop in the Seattle location. But he moved to American Music long ago, so...
Posted by paulus on June 15, 2012 at 10:59 AM · Report this
Erin Resso 1
I usually try to find one of the handful of women that may be working that day. The few times I have gone in with male friends, my counterparts are, almost without fail, greeted and spoken to as if they were the ones coming in to buy something. Really gross. Good to hear that the upper brass at least knows about it.
Posted by Erin Resso http://deejayres.tumblr.com on June 15, 2012 at 10:57 AM · Report this

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