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Bexleyheath music business still hitting the right notes

PUBLISHED: 11:00 14 February 2013

Pictures of John Chilton

Pictures of John Chilton

Archant

The realisation that it wasn’t possible to be a touring musician and have a family forced the owner of a musical instrument shop in Bexleyheath to settle down and put his talents to other uses.

Pictures of John ChiltonPictures of John Chilton

Or maybe that should be the musical instrument shop in Bexleyheath because John Chilton of Doghouse Music has seen a dozen and more specialist shops of that kind come and go in the past two decades but he has stayed put despite increased pressure from the internet.

The Broadway store prides itself on being the best of its kind in the south-east, but John says it is becoming more and more difficult for his niche business to survive.

The 55-year-old said: “I’m the last man standing in the borough.

“So many people are buying their musical instruments on the internet because they think it’s cheaper. That might have been true five years ago but it’s no longer the case.

Pictures of John ChiltonPictures of John Chilton

“Businesses adapt – you have to or you’ll go under. That’s what I did.

“This used to be a four-man shop – gradually I’ve had to make people redundant and now it’s just me. It was becoming too expensive.”

John travelled the country singing for rock bands while occasionally playing the guitar or keyboard.

He took the decision to get what he termed a “proper job” and decided to take over a failing music shop called Monkey Business.

He changed the name and never looked back.

“I really had to get a job. I thought it would be a good idea to put my talents to good use but the industry has changed a lot over the years.

“People understand the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

“In times of recession, music can be undervalued and seen as a luxury.

“Quite a few people have bought an instrument or a part on the internet for what they deem to be a decent price. Then they’ll realise they don’t quite understand how to put it together or something and they’ll bring it into the shop, expecting me to have a look at it when they’ve bought it somewhere else.

“I’ve almost been hit before when I’ve refused to help.”

John, who has lived in Sidcup and Welling in the past, but now lives in Rochester, opens five days a week.

“Things aren’t going to get any better for the high street any time soon and shops like mine will be run out of town if people keep deserting them.

“Often the people the public are buying from are less knowledgable than the customer. Expert knowledge is worth its weight in gold and that’s what specialist stores such as mine can offer.”

For more information on Doghouse Music, visit doghousemusic.net or call 020 8304 5331.

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