Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Enormous new store greets Sweetwater’s local clientele

Memorable experience goal of mall-like space


Brandon Jordan

Web Developer & Distribution Director

Published June 30, 2021

Sweetwater is making some noise with the latest addition to its campus: the new Sweetwater Music Store.

With foot traffic continuing to grow month over month, the company knew it needed more space to accommodate more customers. The new store is just over 44,000 square feet, more than three times the size of the former store.

The Sweetwater Music Store has the largest on-site inventory of any music store in the country with over $100 million of inventory.

“We really wanted to create a place that would be a special experience for customers, not just for the functionality of the retail space, but more of an overall experience,” said Thad Tegmeyer, Sweetwater vice president of campus sales operations and artist relations, in an interview with Whatzup.

Making Room on the Campus

To accommodate this new store, Sweetwater made significant modifications to its campus layout. One of these big changes was the relocation of the main entrance, just west of the original entrance, which takes visitors directly to the new store. The old storefront has been closed; the arcade now occupies the former entrance.

The music store, which has been in the design and build process for over a year, took over the original warehouse attached to Sweetwater’s building. A second floor was built above the store to house the growing Sweetwater sales staff.

Because the facility is so large, Sweetwater has organized it to function similar to a mall. Separate customized galleries showcase each distinctive aspect of the store.

Numerous rooms accommodate the instrument and gear categories of acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass guitars, drums, recording, live sound, and piano and keyboards.

“The entire store is amazing and really has something for everyone,” Tegtmeyer said. “It is one of the best retail experiences in the country.”

Throughout the showrooms, Sweetwater’s digital warehouse is available for use. The digital warehouse is housed on large touchscreens where customers can sort through thousands of instruments. Once a customer finds the specific piece they want to try out, an employee will promptly bring it up for them.

Band & Orchestra Marches in

This storefront expansion presented an opportunity to move Mynett Music, now Sweetwater Band & Orchestra, under the same roof as the main music store. As with the other showrooms, Band & Orchestra has its own custom space within the store.

The Band & Orchestra area also features a regional spotlight, with local high school bands playing on a big screen.

“I believe it [Band & Orchestra] will certainly become quite the destination for band and orchestra,” Tegtmeyer said. “We’ve got an amazing staff and an incredible assortment of instruments.”

One-of-a-kind demo rooms are available for use. These rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art acoustic enhancements found only at Sweetwater, which allow musicians to audition instruments in a real-world scenario.

“Customers can experience the sounds of different-sized venues, all in the same space,” Tegtmeyer said. “They can change between small-, medium-, and large-size spaces by adjusting the dial.”

Sweetwater’s renowned Gear Exchange is a popular stop near the instrument service and repair center.

This local exchange allows individuals to buy, sell, and trade used, open-box, and demo instruments. Gear Exchange’s home was creatively designed as a garage, complete with a garage door opening.

When musicians need their instruments serviced, they can stop by the freshly expanded service and repair intake counter within the music store.

“This addition allows us to do a much better job handling the repair service side of the business,” Tegtmeyer said.

Sweetwater operates a world-class repair facility, which includes ultrasonic cleaning for band and orchestra instruments. Technicians are highly trained to ensure repairs and service are done right the first time.

Focused on Customer Experience

There is no shortage of unique items throughout the store, including a guitar pedal display comprised of more than 1,100 pedals, easily making it the world’s largest pedal display.

Testing stations allow people to grab pedals and try them out without having to hook up large amounts of gear.

More than 50 functioning headphones are ready for customers to test.

The recording room features a massive microphone display, and the guitar room features amps with capabilities to switch among the amps with just the push of a button.

Also, Sweetwater artistically built musical elemenets into the store design.

Notably, there is keyboard-inspired lighting constructed into the ceiling of the piano room, and the drum room’s ceiling resembles a round drum shape.

In fact, there is custom musical lighting in each room, making for an all-around unique shopping experience.

“A customer recently told me they’ve been in a few times, and they keep discovering new aspects, which is great,” Tegtmeyer said. “That’s the whole idea. Every time you come in, hopefully it’s a new experience.”

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