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J.King Guitar

Local Entrepreneur Makes Retail Shop Dream a Reality

This feature article was written by the Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation.

Guitar consignment and repair store sees local entrepreneur fulfilling a dream in a historically musical space.

When you walk past J.King Guitar on the way to the West Ave District retail shops or to a Cannon Ballers game, you can’t help but notice his wall of beautiful guitars. Whether you are looking to add a vintage guitar to your collection or buy your first one, you are sure to be impressed by his selection on consignment in his retail store.

  • Owner Jack King posts new acquisitions on his Instagram page, but a visit to the store allows you to experience each guitar in person. In addition to consignment, King offers in house guitar repair service including everything from simple set-ups to more involved jobs like fret work and refinishing.

King said there was a surge in guitar sales during the pandemic as people looked to start new hobbies. Combined with artists who are always looking for a new sound, the guitar consignment business has heated up and King is happy to be a part of it, especially in the growing downtown Kannapolis district. You can also find an assortment of guitar straps, amplifiers and other accessories at his shop.

Local Entrepreneur Returns Home to Grow Business

King, a 2010 graduate of Northwest Cabarrus High School, started his guitar repair business while he was living in Charlotte. “I didn’t think there was much of a music scene happening in Cabarrus County, so I opened my shop in the Elizabeth area in 2019,” said King.

  • He built a solid client base and began to have aspirations to open a retail store but wasn’t sure how to make the transition. That was when his wife saw an ad for the Retail Lab on LinkedIn.

King became part of the program which was established at the Cabarrus Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship through a partnership between the Flywheel Foundation and the Small Business Center at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

“I quickly learned that my little part-time business could become full time,” said King. “I realized that I was a lot further along than I thought I was. The Retail Lab taught me the steps I needed to take to make it a reality and connected me with the right people to make it all happen.”

  • The program content King found most important to his next steps included how to negotiate a commercial lease, as well as marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) for his website that would attract new business.

Irene Sacks, Director of Economic & Community Development for the City of Kannapolis, was one of the people King met while in the Retail Lab program. That connection was invaluable for him as he started investigating setting up shop in the revitalized downtown Kannapolis business district. He could reach out to her and ask questions that were vital to his startup.

“From graduating the Retail Lab program to establishing a brick-and-mortar presence in downtown Kannapolis, Jack King has clearly put in the effort to turn his business idea into a reality,” said Sacks. “He is creative with ideas on how to generate additional foot traffic and has done the follow-up work to pursue connections that we have suggested to him. Businesses like Jack’s provide the local culture and commitment that make downtowns thrive. He’s a great example of how the Cabarrus Center and the Retail Lab can help new businesses sharpen their business model and prepare them for launch.”

J.King Guitar Keeps the Vibe in West Ave Space

King’s participation in the program also led to him applying for and receiving a Spark Grant that helped him get a small inventory of guitar straps and accessories. He was then able to participate in the Retail Lab’s Pop Up Store which was created for program graduates to test things like their pricing and marketing. Shortly after that, he was asked to do a pop up in downtown Kannapolis, which led to a meeting with Ken Lingafelt, owner of several buildings in downtown Kannapolis, including the Swanee Theatre.

  • King said Lingafelt told him he wanted a music related business to take the space J.King Guitar is in now as it actually connects directly to the Swanee Theatre’s green room. It allows the two businesses to work together should any of the artists need service for their instruments while on tour.

King’s location on the corner of Oak Avenue was a record store from the 1950s-1980s which is why he pays homage to it with a display of his own favorite records featuring lots of classic guitar artists.

What advice does King have for people considering the Retail Lab? Just do it! It’s hard to believe that it is free to aspiring entrepreneurs and yet, everything you learn can take your business to the next level.

Head to downtown Kannapolis and visit J.King Guitar in person or follow him on Instagram or Facebook.

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