Ron Lira " certainly one of the few full-time luthiers in Oklahoma City " has maintained a steady flow of business as Honest Ron's Guitars, in the same location at 1129 N. May since 1985.
"Most of what this business is, if you get discouraged or burn out, then you're done for," Lira said. "That goes for almost anything, but especially for the guitar market."
Lira said his business has faced moments of "adjustment" over the years as larger competitors came and left, particularly when Guitar Center and Mars Music opened warehouse-styled stores in OKC in the late Nineties.
Prices fell as the new chains flooded the market with inexpensive, mass-produced instruments, Lira said, but although the competition was "a bit of a worry" and forced his shop to make some changes, those market shifts didn't affect his business as much as it did for many of his competitors.
But the corporate stores were not the death nail for metro music stores. Rather, he said, it was the owners' lack of stamina that proved fatal. Despite being forced to fiddle with his business practices somewhat, Lira said competing with big-box stores isn't difficult for him " or mysterious.
"I try not to compete with the big chains," he said. "Slowly, over the last five years, I've eliminated everything I sold in here that Guitar Center had. I just went ahead and let them have it." "Mike Robertson