Hey Guys, I just returned from my trip to Sweetwater Music in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. I really enjoyed my visit to Sweetwater and let me start by saying that this place is massive. Sweetwater maintains a large campus that has over 1200 employees and includes a retail sales space, working recording studios, on-site private lessons, service center, cafe, salon & spa, arcade, fitness center and a medical center. They carry hundreds of brands (more than I can list here) and have a state of the art climate controlled warehouse (100,000 sq. ft) and shipping system that fills over 4500 orders per day while boasting 99.5% accuracy.
While onsite I was able to check out quite a few guitars as well as the cafe (Java, Java, Java…) and also observed the warehouse and shipping department in action (it was amazing to see how so many orders were being filled so quickly). Factory tours are available to everyone so if you find yourself in Ft. Wayne, just stop by the concierge desk (yes they have one) and inquire about taking a tour for yourself.
Started in 1979 Sweetwater’s focus is online retail sales, although they do offer many amenities to the local musicians. With over half a million dollars in annual sales, this online retailer is doing things right.
While heading over to the cafe I found an unexpected surprise. In the main hall was Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way” Les Paul. I was very familiar with this guitar having studied much of Joe’s playing over the years, so it was a real treat to be able to see this guitar up close and personal. I even noted some guitar setup magic while checking out this iconic ax.
Live performances are available on most days and I found some of the staff checking out a live band while having their lunch. The staff at Sweetwater is knowledgeable and friendly and the customer service is personal and complete. While I personally prefer to shop the local mom and pop music shops, I did find Sweetwater to be a valuable online music resource for (those hard to find in stock) items. If you find yourself in need of an online music retailer, Sweetwater is Guitar Animal approved!