One of the most frustrating things for any jazz collector is to find a music store that still caters for your needs.  Recently we have seen big retail music stores closing their branches in many part of the country.  Those that are still remaining hardly have what one is looking for as a jazz collector.  In fact, half of the stock in what were strictly music stores that you will find these days are games and accessories.

“You can’t really blame those retail stores for selling more games and accessories”, says Miroslav Dimitrov who is the owner of Pretoria based BG music store and Johannesburg based Expansion music store. He had another shop in Durban which he had to close.  Simply known as Miro to his customers, this Bulgarian born retailer told Marabi Jazz Lounge about how his business has survived in the music retail industry.

Miro started selling CD’s while studying electronics at a university in Bulgaria.  He would listen to soul and smooth jazz.  He did not complete his degree.  To escape the compulsory military training in his home country, he came to South Africa in 2001 and got a job as a waiter in 2002.  “I noticed that I could not find the music I wanted and started selling CD’s at the boot of my car”, he said.

When his mother came to stay in South Africa, he started selling CD’s at the back of his mother’s Garsfontein house.  “I would literary run to Menlyn Park to hand CD’s to a customer that would be waiting for me there”, he added. In 2006, he started supplying music shops with music they wanted.  He noticed that ‘the music industry was monopolised then’. There were core distributors that had been around for a long time.  Some were dying.

Katalyst and Expansion were the labels he was selling at the time.  Dimitrov was not prepared to work on credit because big music stores as he put it ‘were not operating on cash on delivery’.  He shares some very valuable insights on how the industry works.  He tells Marabi Jazz Lounge that “Some shops keep CD’s in their shops but don’t bother to sell them because they never paid for the items”.

His major breakthrough was when graduated from supplier to operate as a retailer and distributor at Burlington Arcade in Pretoria CBD in 2009.  “In opened doors for many customers.  That was three years of doing good business until 2012”, he said.  He believes that many people as a result of the tough economic conditions don’t give CD’ a priority in their household budget and the situation is getting worse.

“In 2012, I would sell 1200 CD’s a month.  If I sell 600 CD’s a month in 2017 that is good business because sales figures are usually lower than that”, he shares his concern.  Despite the figures that are not impressive to read, Miro still wants to continue selling CD’s for the next 15 years.  He believes that what is killing major retail stores is that CD’s that are sitting in the warehouse and not purchased by customers translates into huge losses.

Last year he resorted to creating a WhatsApp group a means to improve sales.  He posts material available at his shop that is run by his assistant Thabang Mokgabodi to the members of the group.  Last year was also the year his Pretoria based music store moved from Burlington Arcade to Steyns Towers.  He says the WhatsApp group is proving to be a very effective way of selling the stock available at his shop.

He distributes a lot of independent artists.  He specialises on imports and sells few South African artists.  One of the biggest disappointments he had as a retailer and distributor was when he ordered CD’s of artists that were billed to perform at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz in 2014.  As a result of the Post Office strike, the CD’s he was expecting in August only arrived in December.

Dimitrov does not believe his business faces any threats except that ‘the economy must just improve’.  He says he would have loved to venture into live gigs but he is more than happy with what he does.  Asked which period is the most profitable for his business he told Marabi Jazz Lounge that, “January is good for business and April is worse”.

Customers that want to be added on Miro’s WhatsApp group can make that request by sending him a message on 084 745 6749 or call Thabang Mokgabodi at (012) 323 8052.  For customers that live in other parts of the country, he can deliver their orders through postal services. Him and Thabang are also on Facebook.