A music store is more than a place of commerce. It’s a community haven for musicians who gather to discuss their favorite gear, try out instruments, and trade techniques. And it’s a place of dreams, where aspiring young musicians picture themselves playing the world’s stages.
The Guitar Amp and Keyboard Centre in Brighton, U.K., better known as GAK, is one such place, consisting of shops for guitars, pro audio, piano and drums. It sells the stuff of dreams – an assortment of instruments and accessories that make it the leading independent music retailer in the country. Regulars come and go throughout the day. “We have a lot of regulars and, naturally the shop is a local hangout for musicians and bands of all genres,” says GAK Retail Manager Dan Ward.
Unfortunately, the regulars found themselves with no place to go in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a lockdown, forcing stores and restaurants in the U.K., one of the countries hardest hit by the virus, to shutter stores and restaurants temporarily. “COVID-19 changed everything. Naturally, we had no option but to pause our retail operation,” says Ward. Fortunately, the desire to play music never goes away, so GAK was able to continue doing business through its online storefront. “For us as a business, it could have gone either way, but as soon as lockdown happened, the demand online and via mail order skyrocketed.”