“People said, ‘Oh, you’re only moving two blocks. That’s not so bad,’” says Graham Blank. “But it was horrendous!” Blank says this with a smile on his face, whole in jest and half in earnest. Standing at the entrance to the new Tom Lee Music location—indeed, just a few blocks north of its long-time Granville Street home—at the start of its VIP opening party, Blank, the company’s vice president and director, clearly feels that the hard work was worth it.
After more than 30 years in its original location, Tom Lee has set up shop on Granville and Georgia, right across from Nordstrom and above London Drugs. The shiny new store clocks in at 1,400 square-feet—technically less than before, but with a lot more customization. “The goal was to develop the space around the business and the way customers shop today,” Blank says. That means, aside from the usual state-of-the-art instruments and tools that customers expect from Tom Lee, there are special in-store features such as a performance room with 70 seats, and synced televisions throughout the store that broadcast whatever show is going on there at the time. The performances can even be live-streamed to the internet. “Each area has its own uniqueness,” Blank says of the shop’s various sections, which include a massive piano room (a Steinway & Sons Spirio worth $170,000 may or may not be on display). There is also an outdoor patio, fully open to the public.
“People nowadays, especially luxury shoppers, are looking for unique experiences,” says Blank. “We want to surprise and delight.” As the party crowd grows inside, with people excitedly wandering through the rooms and pausing to look at guitars or drums, it’s hard not to believe the store will do just that.