Independently owned and operated Rock City Music Company celebrates their official grand opening in Livonia, Michigan on June 18, 2016.

In the modern-day of big box stores and online storefronts, finding a music shop that can deliver experienced, knowledgeable, and personal customer service can be trying. Independent music retailers have had to find ways to adapt to the competitive world of online commerce and a consumer base that is always searching out a great deal.

National Rock Review spoke with owner Nick Marocco about the upcoming grand opening event, the reason behind the name change of his business, and how he serves the local music scene as a musician and music store owner.

NRR: You’ve been at the new location in Livonia, MI now for six months. How has the location change helped your business?
Nick Marocco: Well for sure it’s given us the space to really spread out and get into some other stuff that we had no room for at our old location such as posters, ukuleles, magazines, pinball machines, and a bigger record selection. Also, the move put us more centrally located; it’s much easier to get to us now than it used to be. People in Ann Arbor, Downriver, and the east side all have freeway abilities to get to us.
NRR: Tell us about the anniversary event you have lined up for June 18th?
Nick Marocco: This grand opening event is something we’ve wanted to do since we opened the week of Thanksgiving, but because it’s Michigan, we had to wait till the weather got nice and stayed nice. We will be BBQing for our customers, spinning records, and showing everyone what we are all about. We are offering 10 percent off on almost everything in the store (Excludes consignment items & New Vinyl) as well as 20 percent off all used LPs.
We are also having a raffle to win some really cool items such as Electro Harmonix Pedals, signed prints from world famous tattoo artist Bob Tyrrell, t-shirts and a couple other surprises, all proceeds from the raffle are being donated to the Burger School For Students with Autism. We also have some exclusive merchandise such as our Wolfie Hendrix t shirt that will be debuting that day.
NRR: You changed your name from BluesAirmen Guitars to Rock City Music Company. What compelled you to change the name?
Nick Marocco: The biggest reason for the name change was that it wasn’t mine. I play with Dave Goldsworthy (previous owner) in Bluesairmen, he had named the store, and when I made the choice to move I just felt like I really wanted to start fresh, I wanted this to be me from the ground up… plus no one ever said Bluesairmen right. So far, only 3-4 people have complained.
NRR: The new location offers you a lot more space. What new features and services has this allowed you to offer that wasn’t possible in the old location?
Nick Marocco: As I said above. It really gave us the ability to spread out, We were so cramped at Bluesairmen that we had stuff stacked on top of other stuff, it was hard to maneuver around each other, it was just cramped all around.
We also were able to add five lesson rooms to the new location (Our old location only had 1) which gave us the ability to offer all different kinds of Lessons! Guitar, Drums, Bass, Mandolin, Banjo, Violin, Piano. We teach it all now! Another great feature is that our tech Greg Gdaniec now has his own workshop room where before he shared all his space with backstock used vinyl LPs. This gives him a chance to have multiple projects going at once.
NRR: Are you celebrating this year as the 1st anniversary of Rock City Music?
Nick Marocco: I would say we are looking at this whole year as a big kickoff for us. Again, we opened in November so I doubt we will be having parties like this one we have coming up when it’s possibly snowing but I am sure we will do something to celebrate whether it be a sale or a concert, something will happen.
NRR: How have the local music scene and consumers adapted to your change in name and location?
Nick Marocco: A think people like it. I found out after that fact from some of the “veterans” of the Detroit music scene that there used to be a “Rock City Music” over on the east side in 70’s some have asked we are affiliated, we are not but I guess it’s cool to be unintentionally tied to some history. Almost all of our customers from Bluesairmen have followed us to the new location and for that I am very grateful, it really shows that I think we provide services and a vibe you can’t find anywhere else.
NRR: Have you experienced better growth in the new location? How has the city of Livonia welcomed you as a new small business?
Nick Marocco: Yes absolutely. So far the move has benefited us huge. We retained our old customer base as well as gained a new one. The people in the community here have been very nice and supportive, lots of people came in to introduce themselves from other business’ the first week we were open which was cool.
We are located right next to a great bar called O’Malley’s that has the best musical acts you can catch locally, lots of great jazz players, funk, blues. It’s really cool and compliments our store great. The city has been good to deal with so far also, The Chamber of Commerce will be doing a ribbon cutting the day of our grand opening party at noon to help us kick it off.
NRR: Do you still find time to play in bands, being a musician yourself?
Nick Marocco: Oh Man. I don’t know how I do it but I do. From April 30th – July 1st I play about 45 gigs with nine different bands. It helps to have a supportive staff that you can rely on. The front of house manager here Johnnie Johnson II does a great job holding down the fort when I am not here… and he does a great job keeping me calm. Ha!
NRR: What does the future hold for your business and what goals have you set for yourself?
Nick Marocco: We are just improving day by day, little by little, we have lots of big ideas. Such as planning in-store events with bands, carrying more products, etc. Eventually, I’d like to open another store on the east side but a little at a time; we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves ya know.
NRR: Any closing words you’d like to say in this interview?
Nick Marocco: I just would like to thank the entire staff here, Johnnie, Greg, Matt, Jesse, Joe, Geoff, Wally for all their hard work and support. As well as our customers who continue to support us and believe in us. And remember, buy local! Don’t let big box stores or the Internet kill the ability to have a conversation with someone!

RSVP to the Rock City Music Company Grand Opening Facebook event here.

Rock City Music Company
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About The Author

Hailing from Boston and now residing in the Metro Detroit area, Mick has spent several years photographing concerts and interviewing musicians in the music industry. After spending a few years shooting and writing for, he founded and started the National Rock Review in the fall of 2013. Recruiting staffers from around the world, he has led the National Rock Review team in to a respected and established publication in the online music news/press industry in a short period of time.

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