Welcome to this summer update. With threats of a heatwave on the way I thought I’d sit at the computer with a breeze coming through the open window and write this update. Reflecting on the showroom activity since the last update it strikes me that the piano business is a fickle thing. We have had one of the busiest spells ever at the showroom, I see from the last update that things had gone a bit quiet at that time. I remember saying to Tobie ‘enjoy the quiet times and look forward to the busy ones’ quite wise words from one so young, ahem! Anyway, it has been all go at the showrooms which is how I like it.

The major news coming out of Ben Wheeler Pianos is that we are extending the Ash Park showroom! The business in our neighbouring unit has re-located allowing us the opportunity to move the partition wall back to take some of their space, so exciting! The wall has been moved and secured in its new position and the builders arrive tomorrow to start the re-fit of the new space. The first task for the builders is to construct a protective wall, made out of timber and sheeting, to help keep the dust out of the area with the pianos in. We have pushed all of the pianos  up together to allow as much space for the builders as possible so it will be chaotic for a few weeks to say the least. Funnily enough, we have three appointments tomorrow to view grand pianos, I’ve managed to keep all of the grands accessible and the duster will be hard at work before each appointment!

After starting to supply a few pianos from a dry lined garage at my home in 1999 I could never have imagined how the business would steadily develop over the next twenty years. In fact, it was never really planned in any way, it has just slowly grown organically to this point. From the garage at home I took on the small unit at Beach’s Crescent, things went well so I then extended that unit by building a toilet on the back to give more internal space. I then took on unit 6C at Ash Park which enabled me to stock more new uprights and around five or six grands. From there I then moved up to unit 1A, a bigger unit further up the park which allowed me to stock twelve or thirteen grands along with an increased number of uprights. The really significant development then was Michelle coming on board at a time when I was struggling to keep up with the tuning and showroom workload. Now, probably five years on from the move to 1A it is being expanded to give us two thirds more space. The plan is to bring the used upright stock from Beach’s Crescent up to Ash Park so that all of the pianos are under one roof. I will then most probably vacate the unit at Beach’s Crescent, incidentally this strange little building was once the village shop! The extra space will allow us to expand the stock, possibly adding a few Kawai digital pianos as a potential stepping stone to an acoustic piano, and allow better presentation of the grand pianos. It will also give us space to host events with local music teachers, which we are very keen to do again and have thoroughly enjoyed in the past. I cannot articulate how exciting this is for the business and can’t wait to see the pianos in the new space!

Briefly, as other news can’t possibly compete with all of this! We have seen many pianos selected since the last update. Most notably the wonderful Grotrian-Steinweg 192 Cabinet grand was selected by a very impressive pianist and music teacher from the Winchester area. I was very sad to see it leave the showroom but am delighted that it is being enjoyed by an accomplished pianist who loves playing the piano! Many Wilh. Steinberg uprights have been selected and the P165 grand is being enjoyed by a longstanding customer, the third grand piano that I have supplied to her. The Wilh. Steinberg pianos are proving really popular, they are pianos that perform to level normally associated with pianos that are far more expensive. Kawai uprights and a couple of grands, many used uprights and a couple of Grotrian-Steinweg uprights add to the list of pianos that have made their way to homes in the last couple of months. It really has been an exciting period in the showroom.

I’m going to sign off here and wish you all a wonderful summer. We are planning, and very much looking forward to, future events at the showroom, the first is already booked for the 14th September when a Winchester piano school will be visiting us. We will post updates on the showroom extension on the Facebook page (Michelle or Sharad will, I don’t get involved with Facebook). As ever we hope to welcome as many visitors to see our pianos as possible, even throughout the chaos of the building work. Rest assured, the route to the kettle has been left clear…

All the best

Ben

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