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"Onban Domei" How is the buyback market lately? - let's ask to another second-hand store ~

Here's the final English translation of our free booklet "Onban Domei"

Translation for page 12 - 15.


Ishibashi Gakki X Diskunion

If you say the word buyback, it is a very broad and diverse market. It depends on many things including store atmosphere, the buyback policy, products, etc. On this page, we hope to convey the pleasure of second-hand culture. Our staff will speak with specialists from other industries about the buyback market and second-hand items. Today, Mr. Matsuoka from the Shinjuku Japanese Rock/Indie House, speaks with Mr. Kondo from the Reuse Division of Ishibashi Music Corporation. Ishibashi Music Corporation is one of the most respected musical instrument retail chains with 13 shops in 16 locations including Ochanomizu, Tokyo which was founded in 1938. They are famous with the trivia that the company name is written in the kanji and the store name is written in the katakana.

* Official name of the company: Ishibashi Music Corporation/ name of stores: Ishibashi Gakki

■ Inside of the Ishibashi Gakki where guitars which have been maintained and repaired are lined up orderly.

If you have any question, our knowledgeable staff can assist you.

[Your precious musical instruments, when to sell? How to sell?]

Matusoka of Diskunion (“M”): First, in the case of CDs and vinyl, the beginning of the new fiscal year or major holidays are the best time for sales. Is this the same case for musical instruments?

Kondo of Ishibashi (“K”): With musical instruments, most sellers trade in their second-hand instruments when they make a new buy. People also sell and buy during the end of the year when they need money, during the cleaning season or when moving.

M: Do you hold a buyback campaign during this time?

K: We don’t conduct time sales, but we will pinpoint specific items and we will offer a higher price. We are always watching the market trend for specific item. Our website is updated constantly, and the customer can search our buyback price for specific items. Maybe an item that normally has a buyback price of

50,000yen is now 60,000 or 70,000yen.

M: Decisively, could you please give us tips to have a buyback price of musical instruments higher?

K: I think it can be said with any item, an item that is easy to sell in high price can assess in a high price. If it’s popular within the market, it is in mint condition, or added a Hardshell case and/or accessories, the seller can fetch a much higher price.

There is a department at Ishibashi named “The Repair Center”. Before selling a second-hand item, our Repair Center checks out the condition, cleanliness, and sound, and repair it. If little or no work is necessary, the buyback price will obviously be higher.

M: The condition influences the buyback price, correct? How about the market price for vintage musical instruments?

K: The demand for vintage instruments is increasing. We often stock vintage guitars from overseas, but currently with COVID-19, we are not receiving as much stock. The price will be higher if there is more demand than supply, so I believe the instrument market prices will remain high now.

M: Talking about vintage items, there are many people who buy and sell at auctions, as opposed to visiting a store, right?

K: To be honest with you, seeing from a seller’s viewpoint, items can be sold higher at auctions than at the store. For example, an item we buy at 10,000yen can be sold at 15,000yen in an auction. However, after hearing several stories, there are some troubles including financial issues. In fact, the customer may buy or sell an item without ever seeing or touching the product. We give the customer the best price possible, but the store also provides after-sales service in case that the customer finds anything after they bought.

M: That is the same with CDs and vinyl. Both the seller and buyer feel auctions are a better deal financially. However, we provide strong after-sale service and avoid issues that may happen and connect sellers and buyers.

Now, what should we do if we want to sell musical instruments? We have 3 ways to buy, over-the-counter, home delivery or door-to-door. Is Ishibashi Gakki the same?

K: If you have a personal computer or a mobile phone, we want you to visit Ishibashi Gakki’s website under the “buyback price search” tab and you can quickly find the market price. The original model of this “buyback price search” is a free pricing guidebook that has been handing out. For 30 years, we have maintained a pricing guide, so we have a large amount of buying and selling data. The maker, brand name or model name can be chosen, and you will be able to view 3 types of prices depending on the condition, “Top Condition”, “Good Condition” and “Normal Condition”. The customer can decide whether to bring it to the store or have an in-home visit.

M: If I bring one guitar to the store to sell, how long does it take until I receive my payment?

K: It will take about 10 to 15 minutes. We will ask to the customer to wait for more time to check up if it is a rare or a vintage.

[Is the LINE app appraisal a trend these days?]

M: I heard that Ishibashi Gakki has a convenient system called “LINE app Appraisal”.

If you send the model number along with photos, you can get a quick in-home appraisal.

K: Sometimes it might take a while to research a specific item, but as long as we have it on our extensive list, we will tell a research result to a customer. However, if the item is not in our data, we will connect your request with a specialist. If you search by yourself on website, quite a few customers think it is a bother to enter because they do not know the model number. We often ask the customer to send a photo of the serial number through the Line app. E-mail sometimes takes too long and phone descriptions are often difficult.

M: For CDs and vinyl, sometimes the artist and the title are the same but the standard number is different, or the standard number is same but the matrix number is different. That may change the appraisal price, but we considered using the LINE app. We found it was difficult to give an appropriate appraisal without checking the item. What are your thoughts?

K: Yes, it is difficult to find small defects that are not visible on a photo. Sometimes you may not know the actual condition unless you take the instrument apart. It’s called expert appraisal, but we only give the general market price. However, it does not mean that we surely buy out at that price.

M: I see. By asking an expert opinion in advance, the customer can consider whether he or she actually wants to sell or not. It seems like a very easy and reliable way for your customers to search.

K: That’s right. Because it’s LINE, customers can feel free to write us and send photos, and they can check quickly whether it is arrived or not, so they can promptly move on to the next step.

M: Are there many customers who sell their instruments after receiving the LINE app expert appraisal?

K: They are very many. We issue a special ticket number when we give a price by an expert. We ask the customer to bring that number when they come to the store or to enter the number on the form on the occasion of either door-to-door or home delivery.

M: It is very convenient and casual system, but is it OK if the customer decides not to sell after receiving an expert opinion?

K: Yes, of course that’s OK. There are some customers who just want the appraisal. Some customers do not bring the instrument because the price is lower than expected, or just want to know the price of their precious musical instrument. I think many of our customers decide to sell or not depending on the price of an expert appraisal.

M: That’s true, it makes very convenient for the customer to sell. Which method of buying do you recommend, “over the-counter”, “home delivery” or “door-to-door”?

K: There is no difference in the buyback price whichever way you chose. That is the same as Diskunion. We hope that our customers can sell with ease.

M: How much will the shipping fees be for home delivery? Aren’t the shipping fees fairly high?

K: We bear the shipping fee. We send a special kit for a home deliver which includes a cardboard box free and the return deliver fee is a cash on delivery, so there is no charge for our customers. Also, regarding the door-to-door buyback, we do not charge for our travel expenses. (Note: The expenses are mostly free of charge. However, there are some rare cases where we may refuse. For example, if someone is requesting the door-to-door service, but they live on a remote island.)

[What is the attractiveness of the physical store?]

M: In the case of the door-to-door buyback, can you pay at the moment of pickup?

K: No, we are very sorry to say, but the instrument must be brought back to the store. It is the same as the over-the-counter buyback, in order to give a fair price, we need to thoroughly check out the instrument. In the case of the door-to-door buyback, it is difficult to check out at the customer’s home. So, we will pay the customer once that process is completed.

M: I understand that if you buy the item without checking it the price may be too low. In order to give the customer to give the best price, we must thoroughly check the instrument. We both have the same philosophy.

By the way, the ratio of the home delivery buyback is increasing lately at our company. Which buyback method is mostly used at Ishibashi Gakki?

K: At our stores, the most popular method has been the over-the-counter buyback for many years.

M: That is unexpected. Have you analyzed the reason?

K: Certainly, lately online and mail order sales have been becoming more popular. Instruments are very personal items for many customers, so they want to touch it and play it. When a customer doesn’t have enough money to buy the specific instrument they want, many will sale their second-hand instruments to pay for their new buying. I think they come to the store and enjoy shopping while using buyback. For the door-to-door buyback and home delivery buyback, it will take a little more time. However, if you bring the instrument to the store, we can pay to the customer on the same day unless there is something wrong. For example, if you bring a guitar to one of our locations, you can receive money within 15 minutes. So, I think the customer prefer to bring to the store.

M: The most attractive point to bring the instrument to the store is that you can get cash there.There are many one-of-a-kind items. They are sold quickly, so items that are displayed in the store always replaced. If the customer comes into the store, they can find new unique or rare items. The over-the-counter buyback patterns for CDs and vinyl are very similar to that of musical instruments, so I think it is the same at Ishibashi Gakki. The e-commerce sites are often utilized to check if the item the customer is looking for are available.

It is exciting time for customers when they find something that they are not looking for or find new arrivals while they are waiting for a result of appraisal at the place where their favorite things are lining up with their reach. I think time itself is a treasure.

K: You will probably get about 7,400 items if you search second-hand musical instruments on our website, however, if you come to the store, you can view some items that are still not on the website. Surprisingly, the showcase of junk items which cannot be listed online makes our customers happy. Junk items are popular among customers who want to repair by themselves the instrument that is at a special price due to defects or use as the parts on another instrument they own.

M: So, the junk items you are referring to don’t have any value? Does the word “junk” mean these items are not attractive to customers?

K: No, I mean if you simply look at it as a business, it is not worth repairing with hard work in order to sell. For example, it is unable to play a guitar with a broken neck. People who want to be a repairer or train to be a repairer want to buy guitars with broken necks, but it is unable for them to find out these guitars. If you were asked to break a neck for a repair practice, most people would feel uncomfortable doing so. There is actually a demand for broken guitars for this reason. Junk guitars sell well at stores around luthier schools because students can buy junk guitars for practice at a reasonable price.

M: Do you actually pay for junk instruments, or do you get them for free and put them out in the store?

K: Ah~, it depends. Most of them are bought. Once we assess the instrument, we buy them at a low price.

M: I am sorry to ask you this and it’s a departure from today’s theme, but are “junk items” one of the products that bring people into your stores?

K: ……. Well~ (lol), not really. There are many items that are not on website, so we hope that customers bring the instrument they want to sell to the store and also enjoy inside of the store. If you want to talk more about junk items, we could do another interview just for junk items. (lol)

Takahiko Kondo: Reuse Department of Ishibashi Gakki

Promoted to a full-time staff member after working part-time at the Shinsaibashi store. His duties include store manager, Kansai regional manager, and he manages the Reuse Department at the company’s headquarters. He has worked with a wide range of musical instruments including stringed instruments, synthesizers, and woodwind instruments. Most of his instruments are second-hand, he is a lover of the reuse market.

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