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Featured Business for December 2021: Guitar House of Tulsa

Based in Tulsa, Guitar House of Tulsa is nationally known for its museum collection and vintage instrument selection.

Can you tell us about how and why you started your business?

Guitar House of Tulsa was established in 1964. I (Drew Winn) have been in the retail musical instrument business since 1996 and had established myself in the vintage guitar business when I took over the brand in 2015. The acquisition of GHOT was accidental at best. I had been living in Puerto Rico, where I operated a guitar shop, live music venue and haphazard real estate venture. As an “Okie”, it was time to return to the mainland, and GHOT provided an opportunity for me to plant my roots back in some red dirt.

What services do you provide within the film/music industry?

We serve the musician community on a variety of levels. Not only in direct sales, but we also donate to local charities that help support live music and those who create it. The type of inventory we stock is highly desirable to touring musicians, and we have become known for it. As far as the the film industry goes, we have been involved in renting instruments to productions that need period-correct pieces, such as the “Killers of the Flower Moon” production.

Can you describe how your company has grown to meet the needs of Oklahoma’s film and/or music industry?

We have become known for having the right gear for professionals across the globe, but our local artists are our number one priority when it comes to accommodating folks with what they need.

What are the benefits of basing your company’s operations in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma, specifically Tulsa, is unique in the music industry. There’s a certain seasoning within the sound of Tulsa, OK. It can’t be articulated, but it is as distinct as a Monet. To have boots on the ground in this magic city is possibly essential to the business. I can operate in a lot of different places, and in many capacities, but I take great pride in being an Okie.

Has your company experienced growth over the last 3-5 years? If so, how?

A loaded question. Growth…. In the existential sense, absolutely.

What would you consider your businesses greatest accomplishment to date?

Surviving a pandemic. Read all about it. The guitar business is booming. Who would have thought?!  The complexities that surround a national health crisis are not for the faint of heart, especially in business. Being able to sell online and have no direct contact with your fellow human has its advantages, to be sure. That is to say, when we have an airborne virus circulating in the community, and we have the ability to avoid said virus, then the worker safety factor scores high. But keeping the lights on for just US was a major adjustment. The shop is like an episode of “Cheers” most days. Regulars, tourists, people selling guitars, people buying guitars….. To take that away for a year was a remarkably difficult adjustment for the psyche and the cash register.

Are there any recent successes your company would like to highlight related to work within the Oklahoma film and music industries?

Being back open to the public has brought in a ton of familiar faces. It has also brought back the musicians who are in town for a show on their tour. We don’t manufacture the inventory, but there is a LOT of Tulsa out there on national stages if you view through the lens of point of purchase. The only recent film we had the pleasure of working with was the production of “Killers of the Flower Moon”. Well, we did let a crew do a filmed interview in the shop recently for a documentary, but I think I signed an NDA on that one….

What are you working on now/next?

The canvas of the shop was getting too empty. I’ve been out acquiring instruments to re-build our inventory. We are always buying vintage and used guitars! Many are sourced locally, although my odometer has reached record highs recently from my purchase travels.

What is your goal/vision for the future of your company?

I’m happy with the footing. We have a solid reputation nationwide. I think we do a great job for our customers, and I feel that come back to me all the time. I know the old saying that “you can’t make everyone happy all the time”, but I really do my best. My goal at this moment is to keep the momentum going, grow a little bit each month/year/whatever, and keep it fun and interesting. There’s nothing worse than the opposite of fun, and uninteresting.

What advice do you have for others who are considering starting a film or music business in Oklahoma?

If you want to make a million, start with 2 million.

What opportunities do you believe await Oklahoma’s film / music industry in the future?

I think the hard work has been done! Dues have been paid in this state by some exceptionally talented and hardworking individuals. It feels like we are right on the verge of something. I don’t know if it’s a higher level of national recognition, more transplants, both, or what. But there’s a feeling of electricity about the music, art and film scene that you can’t quite put your finger on just yet….

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