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Brothers band together to start music store in Syracuse

By Journal Staff


SYRACUSE  —  Two brothers are trying to amp up retail outlets for musicians in Central New York with a new store located off Erie Boulevard East in Syracuse.

The brothers, Ryan Gorham and Brad Gorham, opened Gorham Brothers Music at 118 Seeley Road in December. The Gorhams, members of the rock band Engineer — Ryan Gorham plays guitar and Brad Gorham plays bass — decided to start their store after one of their favorite music outlets in the area closed.

“Growing up, we would travel around looking for deals on used equipment,” says Ryan Gorham. “One of the biggest reasons we opened at the time we did and why we felt like we would be successful is the chain Daddy’s Junky Music closed about three months before we opened our doors.”

Daddy’s Junky Music had a location in Salina, and it was one of the Gorhams’ favorite chains, Ryan Gorham says. So he and his brother decided to try to tune their new store to fill the void left by the shuttered store.

Gorham Brothers Music focuses on used, vintage, and boutique equipment, including guitars, amplifiers, and guitar pedals. It also stocks some new equipment and will perform maintenance work and tuning, Ryan Gorham says.

“We like to have as much as possible so people can spend the time to dig through our equipment and sit down and play what they’d like,” he says. “We want anyone to be able to come in here and for us to be able to help them. It’s a musicians’ type of store and a player’s store.”

When starting the store, the Gorham brothers purchased a variety of instruments on the Internet marketplace eBay to set the tone for the type of used equipment they want to stock, Ryan Gorham says. They now buy used equipment from customers.

“We buy equipment from people walking in just about every day,” Ryan Gorham says. “You never know what someone’s going to bring through the door.”

Starting the store required an initial investment of about $30,000, according to the Gorhams. The brothers used their own savings and a loan from Solvay Bank to finance the cost.

Ryan Gorham projects the store will generate $200,000 in revenue in its first year of operation. After that, he wants to increase revenue by 10 percent every year.

The brothers knew what to expect when starting their store, Ryan Gorham says. They asked music-store owners in other areas how their stores performed.

“We talked to other stores of similar sizes in different cities,” Ryan Gorham says. “We were able to formulate some numbers based on their experience.”

Ryan Gorham also has experience working in retail. He was previously a manager at the Syracuse Real Food Co-op for six years, he says. Brad Gorham worked as a sound engineer at local venues, and this is the brothers’ first time owning a business, Ryan Gorham says.

Gorham Brothers Music takes up 1,200 square feet of leased space at 118 Seeley Road. The brothers liked the location just off Erie Boulevard, as well as its available parking, according to Ryan Gorham.

The space was renovated with new flooring, a new heater, and a new wall that was carved out of a larger storefront, Ryan Gorham says. The building’s owner, Advance Cyclery, coordinated the work and built costs into Gorham Brothers’ lease, he says.

Brad and Ryan Gorham are the music store’s only workers and have no immediate plans to hire additional employees. They eventually want to bring a third brother, Bobby Gorham, into the business as a third partner and may add one other employee in the future, Ryan Gorham says. But those expansions aren’t on the table in the near future.

“Every day is still a struggle to make it,” Ryan Gorham says. “We’re just trying to come up with new ideas to market ourselves and get the word out.”

So far, the shop has had luck attracting families buying children’s first guitars, according to Ryan Gorham. It is also orchestrating searches for musicians who are looking for hard-to-find equipment, he says.

In the future, the brothers want to reach out to Syracuse’s college communities such as Syracuse University to try to drum up business from students. And they want to host local bands in the store, says Brad Gorham.

“I want it to be a place for local musicians to come and try out stuff,” he says. “That will definitely establish us as more of a hangout.”

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