Is the Ukulele “Bust” Over?
Yesterday I noticed that one of the companies that I really like (or, I should say, whose ukuleles I really like) was selling ukuleles at a discount. This company previously held auctions for each of their builds, and if you were selected, you could buy one at full price.
I did enter auctions, and finally won a concert “second,” which saved me something like $100 on the cost of the ukulele. Without naming the brand, it is one of my favorite ukuleles.
But, as I mentioned, that company now has stock on hand, and while there may still be auctions, if you want one of those ukuleles, you can buy one…at a discount for a few models (that are not seconds!). These are roughly $500 to $700 ukuleles.
While I think there is still a strong market for the $150 and less ukuleles…and there are a TON of those on the market, I think inflation and this recession are hitting pocketbooks in a way that is going to put a damper on $250 and more expensive ukuleles and ukulele manufacturers. Yes, some people will still buy these models, but there will be buyers like myself, looking to buy used instruments at a low price, as some people also exit the market.
Again, I don’t think it is “gloom and doom” for all companies, but I think companies that exist solely in that $250 and above range are going to have a rough patch over the next couple of years—as are the retailers who carry those models. Individual luthiers that had long waiting lists will be fine, and companies that continue to offer quality instruments at lower price points will be fine.
As for the average ukulele company, I would expect to see many companies start to bundle kits together (some have been resistant to this, to the point of not including gig bags), and I have to wonder if Kala’s recent addition of strap buttons and gig bags on some affordable models (such as the new cigar box ukuleles) is a reaction to the economic times and customers looking for more than just the ukulele when they buy a ukulele.
Then again, I am not an economist, so perhaps I am wrong. I don’t want to see any company (or person, for that matter) go through tough financial times. Hopefully most companies have a wide enough catalog to make it through. And, watch the marketplaces for great deals on new and used ukuleles…there may be some very special ukuleles that hit the market for an affordable price in the coming months and years (again, hoping that the economy turns for the better sooner than later).
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