WOODSTOCK – Left with a full year’s salary after a severance deal from his job in corporate America, Dave Schmidt decided to turn a lifelong interest into a career.
The owner of the new Dave’s Woodstock Music on the Square combined a background in sales and photography with his budding hobby of web development. Mix in his background playing guitar, and Schmidt’s online guitar and amp retailer was born.
“Instead of going into real estate, which is what I really had planned on doing, I said I’m going to give this a year,” Schmidt said. “At the end of 12 months, if it’s working, great. If not, I’ll go and do real estate.
“That was 14 years ago.”
Late in 2012, Schmidt committed to taking his business to a brick-and-mortar setting at 109 E. Van Buren St. A year later – last weekend – he officially opened the doors of his store on the Woodstock Square, a homey, studio-like space with gleaming wood floors, leather-couch seating and shining guitars placed evenly on the walls.
Schmidt will continue to sell his top-quality lines – the products that, in addition to his over-the-phone customer guidance, made his internet company a success, he said.
“My reputation, my knowledge, is what they counted on to make sure they were getting the right guitar for themselves,” Schmidt said. “We’d spend 45 minutes on the phone, then they’d call me back a week later, then they’d call me back a month later. Then, they’d buy something.”
That reputation, he said, is what compelled him to add his name to his local business.
At the new store, he will add to the mix a few more affordable lines for those just starting to pick up guitar or who are operating on a budget. He will also offer more accessories, which didn’t make sense for customers when they had to pay shipping.
“This is a new beginning,” Schmidt said. “The old Dave is dead. This is a new Dave.”