Guitar retailer expands and looks to grow overseas sales

Based in Merseyside, Austin Guitars has now moved into a bigger space and is looking to grow its sales of instruments to Europe and the US. Jennie Lewis reports

Austin Guitars
Reg Clappinson, founder of Austin Guitars, right, with Paul Hemmings. Picture by Geoff Davies


A family-run guitar shop based in a barn in Kirkby has triples its trading space as it looks to expand its sales in the UK, Europe and the US.

Now in its fifth year of trading and having weathered the storm of lockdown, Austin Guitars have moved into a new 540 sq ft retail space. Owner Reg Clappison says it offers all the charm of its previous home coupled with all the space it needs to display their impressive range of new and used guitars.

Reg has been in the guitar business for more than 10 years. Formerly an arboriculturalist, he spent his earlier years gigging at bars and clubs across the North West with a covers band. In November 2016, he made the decision to turn his passion into profit and launched Austin Guitars, trading online and from a small room upstairs at The Barn on Shevingtons Lane.

He now supplies hundreds of guitars each year right across the country and until recently had a growing customer base in Europe too. A market that has become more difficult since Brexit.

The Barn provides a base for a number of other local businesses, including a hair salon, wedding planner and florist. Reg says it’s been a fantastic home for his business over the years, so when the opportunity came up to occupy a larger space it just felt like the natural next step.

“Given the uncertainty of the last 18 months many people might think it’s an odd time to expand,” he said. “But actually, despite the impact on retailers, there remains a huge, perhaps even growing market for guitars.

“When I came away from the gigging scene almost 10 years ago, live music was pretty much on its knees. But there’s been a real resurgence, particularly in Liverpool where the Mersey Beat era paved the way for a new wave of singers, songwriters and performers – music is just in the veins here.

“The scene is vibrant and exciting again and I’m really looking forward to becoming more connected to it again now lockdown is over and welcoming artists through the doors as Austin Guitars. We will also continue to provide a guitar repair and set up service.”

Along with new premises, Austin Guitars will also operate new, extended opening hours from 10am-4pm Friday-Sunday. Reg is also on hand throughout the week by appointment and the new showroom offers parking on site.

He added: “Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, the purchase of a guitar is something completely personal. And as such, we want to provide a service that is personable in a space that is functional and comfortable for all our customers, and we believe we’ve achieved this.”

On Saturday, August 7, Reg launched his new showroom welcoming more than a hundred guests through his doors, including long time customer and friend, musician Paul Hemmings of The La’s and The Lightning Seeds fame.

Paul has been visiting Reg at Austin Guitars since it opened in 2005 and came along to support the expansion and play an acoustic set.

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