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Meet Jon Hasz of Ramona Music Center in Ramona

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jon Hasz.

Jon, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started out as a student and patron at Blue Horse Music when I was in high school in a small town an hour outside of Downtown San Diego called Ramona, California.

The music store was a weekly stop as I was trying to branch out my musical network. I loved the vibe and the community that it created. I met people of all ages and backgrounds and we seemed to always find some sort of common ground through our music.

When I turned 21, I went in to buy guitar strings after the New Year and the owner provided me and my longtime friend, Baylee Strayer, a business proposition that we couldn’t turn down.

We crunched the numbers and made a business plan that we were excited about and a couple months later we were filing our paper work.

We re-opened the store as Ramona Music Center, and were excited to pass on the inspiration and support that this local music store had given to us.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My partner and I bought the store in 2007 so the economy was fantastic. Most people were uncomfortable putting their credit card online so we still had a massive edge with our customers. We did very well and revenue was up 20% a year until the crash in September of 2009.

We knew something big had changed but we had no models or plans ready so we just adapted as quickly as we could. Adaptability has been one of the best lessons we learned early on, especially since market trends have not re-stabilized. We watched retail and lesson enrollment shrink and were very lucky to have put off our expansion plans as a new, larger building lease could have put us upside down. We instead branched out to different services like opening a recording studio and offering rentals and repairs.

As 2011 came around, the economy started coming back and lesson enrollment increased. We thought the other parts of the company would too. That Christmas we noticed that retail had taken a slight dip. People were tired of waiting in lines and started shopping online. We started putting more focus on unique and collectible instruments as those were items that put us out of direct competition with online retailers.

In 2012, Ramona was hit with a ‘100-year flood’ event that left our store under water. We had to close for two weeks while we ripped out carpet and salvaged as much inventory as we could. It took a couple years to bounce back from but fortunately our patrons and our wonderful town has been right there to help us the whole way.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Ramona Music Center – what should we know?
Our original scope of services has expanded into every aspect of music in our town.

We proudly host and run jam and open mic nights monthly and support many other events in Ramona, Julian and Poway.

In store, we offer private instruction for musical instruments, songwriting and music production. We refurbish and repair a wide selection of instruments and equipment ranging from a 1916 Gibson mandolin to an 80 year old Celtic harp.

We try to stock weird and inspiring instruments like an Australian Didgeridoo or a Jaw harp, or even a Sitar if you catch us during the right season. One of our market adaptations has been to offer rentals and rent town programs on our musical instruments and professional recording and PA equipment.

We have made wonderful connections with people all over the county and have brought some of the best teachers and repair techs in to help keep our customers happy.

We are also home to ‘The Afterhours Recording Studio” aptly named since we start recording once the lesson rooms are all empty. It has a “Night at the Museum” vibe and we have had the honor of working with some truly talented artists from all over the world.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
‘The previous owners Jim Nau and Elaine Ruff provided us with training and years of ideas that they used when they ran the shop and helped get us off the ground.

Baylee Strayer got it all started with me and though she is off to other great endeavors, I am very thankful for the time we spent starting this store.

Our ever expanding group of teachers are like family and their professionalism and excitement keep all of us inspired. Mike Garvin, Jim Nowlan, Marcus Descartin, Dove Linkhorn, Sharon Whyte, Andrew Stubbs, JR Guernsey, Jenny Peckham, Joe Morse, Kenny Hill, Todd Allen, Ryan Murphy, Cory Pry and Nate Soule are all rockstars in my book.

Jason Winters, Sandy Burney, Jim Soldi, Cathryn Curry and so many other wonderful customers are there to support us by checking in monthly or just there to help with big cleanup or paint parties. The store wouldn’t survive without the helpfulness of our small town

Come join us in April for our 11th Anniversary show and BBQ in the parking lot at Ramona Music Center.

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