On Jan. 21, 2021 during NAMM's Believe in Music week, the MI industry virtually gathered to celebrate the spirit of the independent music retailer and to applaud their accomplishments, resilience, and commitment to serving music makers at the Top100 Dealer Awards. The show segment, which aired on Believe TV, announced the “Best of” category winners, including “Dealer of the Year” and “Customers Choice” awards.
Congratulations to the following category winners:
Five Star Guitars (Beaverton, OR) - Dealer of the Year
Santa Monica Music Center (Santa Monica, CA) - Best Community Retail Store
Amro Music Stores, Inc. (Memphis, TN) – Best Customer Service
Heid Music Company, Inc. (Appleton, WI) - Best Marketing and Sales Promotion
Andertons Music Co. (Surrey, United Kingdom) - Best Online Engagement and Customers Choice Award
Drum Center of Portsmouth (North Hampton, NH) – Best Store Design
Royalton Music Center (North Royalton, OH) – Innovation Award
The Candyman Strings & Things (Santa Fe, MN) – Music Makes a Difference Award
Joe Lamond, NAMM president and CEO, shared, “As we’ve experienced, it was an unprecedented year for businesses across the world, but these stories of hope, resilience, and service to others to continue to advance music-making are truly inspiring. Our members are the heart of our industry, and as we heard today - even in the face of a pandemic - continued to bring people joy through music.”
One such story comes from The Candyman Strings & Things, winner of the “Music Makes a Difference” award. In their submission, they detailed the power of music for a one student named Arnold who suffers from a developmental disability. Arnold began taking weekly drum lessons at The Candyman approximately four years ago and has continued taking lessons ever since. On his lesson day, he walks into the store and brings the brightest light with him. Arnold's teacher, Andy, says, “Arnold always stays focused and always gives his drumming his best. His positive attitude is an example for everyone.” Vanessa, his case manager echoes his role as a leader: “When I heard that The Candyman was nominating Arnold for the Music Makes a Difference Award, I couldn’t help but think that not only has music made a difference in Arnold’s life, but through his example he is now paving the way to make a difference in the lives of other special needs individuals.”
In their livestreamed acceptance, Cindy and Rand Cook, owners of The Candyman shared their secret. “It’s our staff - it’s because of them. It’s a team that’s also a part of our family. They are warm and welcoming to Arnold and to all individuals. If you spend some time with someone who is struggling with a disability, you’ll find amazing heart inside and that enriches our heart and our experience. So we dedicate this award to all of our staff, and to Arnold.”
Much like The Candyman Strings & Things, the Beaverton, Oregon-based Five Star Guitars, 2020’s “Dealer of the Year,” changing lives through music was a theme across their entries. It was one special young pupil, Brady, who found his voice and a way to communicate with the world.
As the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic spread, the world around him was forced to observe social distancing and quarantines. All gatherings larger than 25 had been banned by the Governor's decree. Brady found a way to bring his neighborhood back together...through music.
On March 17th, 2020, as every music venue in Oregon was silent, Brady performed on the front steps of his house to entertain his neighbors. In this troubled time, he was able to bring his friends and neighbors back together by sharing his gift. The response was overwhelming and resulted in a local news station documenting the performance - a heartwarming reminder that music can still change the world.
Geoff Metts, owner of Five Star Guitars accepted the award and shared, “We’re truly honored - It’s thrilling. It’s been a year that’s been so full of turmoil and that’s...I’m just at a loss for words. I would like to thank staff and everyone who has supported our business. This award means a great deal to all of us.”
The Top 100 Awards show is typically held at Summer NAMM in Nashville, Tennessee, and was delayed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hosted by NAMM Professional Development Director Zach Phillips, selection for the “Best of” categories followed the same process as previous years. To determine the “Best of” category winners, a panel of independent judges reviewed and made selections from the Top 100 finalists. Each finalist was evaluated for effectiveness in marketing, customer engagement, and innovation in retail. The event’s “Customers Choice Award” was determined by an online popular vote customers and fans.