Two decades of Crossroads
Twenty years ago, Randy Weir was searching for a place to start his new guitar business.
He couldn’t steer his rig anymore because of a busted knee so he thought he would turn his hobby into a full-time job.
Weir had always wanted to own a music shop. When he was a teenager taking guitar lessons at New West Music, he would tell the owner, Carol, he would buy the store from her one day.
So when it came time to find a location for himself a few years later, Weir knew he wanted to re-create what Carol had in the Royal City: a place where musicians could call home.
In the late summer of 1994, he happened to be driving down Clarke Street in Moody Centre — “for the first time in my life,” he recalls — when he saw a “For Sale” sign in a storefront.
“People who grew up around here remember it as the Little Candy Store,” Weir said.
He took a chance, recognizing he was at a crossroads in his life, and purchased the 1,400 sq. ft. building at 2342 Clarke St. — christening it, of course, Crossroads Guitars and Drums.
On his front sign, he pays tribute to his two guitar heroes, both of whose lives were cut short: Stevie Ray Vaughn on the left and Jimi Hendrix on the right.
“I started it from nothing,” the Coquitlam resident said. “I didn’t know anything about retail or bookkeeping but I was good with customer service and I knew about vintage guitars.”
At that time, the internet had not yet come into fruition so Weir got a lot of walk-in business.
His classic guitars were a draw — including for one Japanese collector who paid $10,000 in a single day for some of his instruments.
Isn’t that good? he’s asked. “No, it was a sad day,” Weir responded, shaking his head, “but it’s business.”
Weir continues to sell vintage and second-hand guitars and banjos in his shop and online (www.crossroadsguitars.com) — some of which are hand-painted — but sales are now only a small part of his dealings.
Like other music stores around Metro Vancouver, the private lessons are where Crossroads makes its money.
Weir employs teachers Tim Porter, John McLean and Tony Marriott (who studied at the Musicians’ Institute in Hollywood and Berklee College of Music in Boston).
This month, with the 20th anniversary celebrations approaching on Saturday, Weir said he’ll be offering 45-minute guitar, drums and piano classes to his 100-plus students.
“Thirty minutes isn’t long enough and an hour is too long,” he said.
Besides the milestone year, Weir is also upping the lesson hours to stay competitive.
These days, he said, some music lessons in the city are subsidized by taxpayers, available through Groupon or a big-box music franchise.
But what really gets Weir going are the “home delivery” guitar classes that can be had at a cheap rate.
He argues those mobile instructors don’t have the experience to show students the techniques or how to handle the instrument properly.
Weir also has plenty to say about the quality of guitars readily available on the world wide web. He has seen some customers walk in and marvel about their new Gibson guitar, not knowing it’s a knock-off made in China.
“It looks exactly the same and sounds exactly the same but it’s not real,” he said. “A novice can’t tell the difference,” he said.
As for the mass-produced guitars, they need a technician to fine tune them and bring them to their full potential, he said.
Weir has seen many evolutions in the music business over the past 20 years and, currently, he’s witnessing a major shift in his landscape — literally.
The province is building the Evergreen Line several feet from his back yard.
The construction for the rapid transit alignment, due to open in the summer of 2016 to Coquitlam City Centre, is kicking up a lot of dust and creating a lot of noise.
Still, Weir isn’t too bothered. Before it opens, he plans to post a Crossroads sign on the outside of his back wall, hoping the extra commuter eyes will roll in more business.
posted Sep 9, 2014 at 1:00 PM