Interview with Jason Mendelson of BassStringsOnline.com Part III of III

Interview with Jason Mendelson of BassStringsOnline.com Part III of III

Questions are in BOLD.
Responses are in plain text.

Interview comments are in italics.

BUSINESS

Where is Bass Strings Online?

Now located with a retail location in Woodland Hills California. Just
outside of Los Angeles in a climate controlled storefront. At the moment walk-ins are welcome but by appointment only.

How did you get the idea for Bass Strings Online?

From 2003-2006 I built a ecommerce website for a car dealership. I

took my car in for service and parts manager was talking to me about

the place (we knew each other from an enthusiast forum). We were

talking about his business and at the time he was doing 15K in accessories a month. I got the idea to really attack online sales. I built this site from doing $15,000 a month to $400,000 a month at its peak. It started with me and an assistant running the online store and built to its own department with 6 employee’s. The site is still out there but is not the same as it was when I was there. If you owned the car brand that we catered to, you knew me and talked to me about modifying it! I got into doing some video production / editing work after this as my “day time” gig and this offered a lot of free time, so I decided to start an online store for myself. I was not expecting it to pickup how it did and I am very happy about it! Would love to reach the level of the auto parts store, maybe someday…

What was the beginning like?

Hoping for orders to come in! And when they did, scrambling to get

the product if I didn’t have it on hand. At this point I have pretty

much every item on the website in stock at all times. I applied my

site organization skills to BassStringsOnline and it has helped make

the site what it is today.

 

What is it like being a “small” business owner?

Great! Because I get to have my hand in every aspect of the business.

I am in charge of inventory and making sure everything operates to my very high standards. I am happy with where things are now, but I want more for my business. More product lines, and even more happy customers! Nothing makes me happier then when a customer calls up and tells me how I completely changed his bass playing experience by suggesting a particular string set.

Back in the day when I was a DJ I also had my own record label and released my own 12″ vinyl records that I only sold through my own website. So I got a lot of experience selling online starting in 2001.

How did you get such a large customer base in such a short period of time?

I’d love it to be larger! But word of mouth goes a long way. Of

course I have some other secrets that I must keep to myself.

Fair enough! Whatever is, keep doing it, it’s working!

 

Your business has really taken off. How did you get so many companies

on board so quickly?

I have had a relationship with Ken Smith Basses since I was young,

ordering strings for my personal use for years. They are the first I

approached about becoming a re-seller. It helps being what I think is

a knowledgeable player with business experience to get my foot in the

door with these companies. I deal directly with each of the companies

on my site and they know me by name. At NAMM Jason Howe of Rotosound

knew exactly who I was when I introduced myself. I thought that was

really cool. D’Addario invited me to their factory for a tour and a

chit chat about some things which I thought was so amazing!

 

How do you organize your inventory?

Very carefully! I have a very sophisticated method of selecting

string sets out of bins for customers. To ensure the freshest

inventory, I put the newer sets in the back and pull sets for orders

from the front. Very advanced stuff right there! I generally keep

things that sell more frequently closer to the front of the warehouse.

Every string type has its own “Bin” and generally Nickel on the Left

and Stainless on the Right. I keep all the singles in a separate area

that is easier to flip through.

 

I’m curious about your choice to ship via the post office. I actually

prefer this so I’m happy you do it but many companies will only use

UPS or FedEx. Can you elaborate?

USPS has been very reliable and very affordable. I do not believe in

inflating shipping prices. If you pay for First Class Mail you get

First Class Mail at First Class Mail prices. You can go on the USPS

website and see how much a 10oz package (1 set of strings) costs to

ship. Add a secure bubble mailer and some other packaging materials

(to keep things as safe as possible) and insurance and you actually

get a price higher than I charge. USPS does not offer commercial

customer rates but they do have an online discount. Same with

Priority Mail. I give the First Class Mail options for smaller

orders, anything larger goes by Priority Mail. But really large

orders may ship via UPS or FedEX ground. If you want to have your

strings delivered by UPS thats no problem, you would just need to pay

the additional cost.

 

I try to get every order out the day it comes in even though I have a

cutoff time of 12-Noon listed on the site. First Class Mail is

usually delivered from California to the East Coast in 3-5 days,

Priority Mail in 2-3 days both from the ship date. For smaller orders

(few string sets etc…) you really cant beat USPS for the money and

speed of delivery.

 

I believe in charging a small amount for shipping rather than offer

“Free Shipping” and have higher prices. Selling a set for $25 with

free shipping is great, but selling the same set for $21 with a $4

shipping charge works out the same. But once you order two sets at

$25 for $50 with free shipping, you save $4 going with the site that

charges shipping. But of course, I do match prices, so if you do see

prices lower than mine bring it to my attention and I will match it.

Keep in mind, I will use what ever shipping rates and service that

company uses so the price and product is the same, but this may result

in getting the product slower, and once I point out my pricing broken

down, it is actually cheaper…

Did you realize profits immediately or were there short term losses?

Profit? Not sure I have gotten any of that yet! My goal is to expand

and be THE bass player support site.

From all the buzz on TalkBass.com they concur that you’re definitely the site to order from. I have ordered from Bass Strings Online several times now and have had top-notch service (and great products!).

Does the business still allow time for practice and gigs?

Unfortunately no. With all the stuff going on with the site and other

things I have to sacrifice a bit. I was asked to play in a Sting

cover band and it was so much fun and I got to play such great bass

lines, but I had to quit as I just did not have the time… I am

really upset about that…

Your response time on questions, emails, and discussion forums is

incredibly quick. What is your workflow? Are you at a computer or

smartphone?

I am always at a computer or have 2 android phones in my pocket and a

tablet around my shoulder. Typing over 100 words per minute really

helps! I am always available by phone too I can be reached through

the number on the site – 818-569-9215. There is actually a live chat

on the website as well, but I am not on it as frequently as I would

like. Email me jason@bassstringsonline.com and responses are just as

fast as chatting though! Always better to email more detailed

questions and give me as much information as possible… Example of

what not to do: I have a 4 string bass and play rock what do you

recommend? Example of what to do: I have a 4 string thru-body Fender

Precision bass. I play rock and want a thick deep punchy sound with

strong attack, what do you recommend. Oh and I have a nickel allergy

so no nickel strings please.

How much time do you spend on TalkBass?

Talk Bass limits what “Advertisers” or “Vendors” can say. I spend as

much time as I can but can never plug my site. I can provide

information which I am always happy to do.

I didn’t know that. But us TalkBass members try to advertise the site for ya 🙂

 

Do you have any advice for people starting a business?

Be committed, treat people how you expect to be treated, and do as

much as you can actually handle.

What are you future plans for BassStringsOnline?

To expand to more product lines! We actually have access to much more

than is listed on the site. Bass Strings Online is a dealer for

Levy’s gig bags and straps, MONO gig bags and straps, other string

lines, pedals, picks, stands, cables, and other accessories. Need

more time to list product! Feel free to ask if I have something and I

will always be upfront with you. Eventually will get into

instruments. But the priority will always be strings. I recently

launched GuitarStringsOnline.com for guitar players. This is still a

work in progress but the priority is Bass Strings Online… Bass

players come first right?

Absolutely! But don’t tell the other musicians.

I’m a classical bassist. Do you have any plans to expand your upright

string offerings?

I have access to a lot! But since I am not stocking them (YET) I do

not have them all listed on the site. This is something I am working

on but in the mean time, let me know what ever you are looking for and

I will be happy to get you a quote.

OTHER

Do you have any crazy gig stories?

I have had so many different gigs… Its really hard to come up with

one! So I will leave you with some advise that Dr. J.B. Dyas told me

about practicing. “Every day you do not practice you get two days

worse.”

Fun facts about Jason Mendelson:

· NFAA/ARTS Awardee Music/Jazz/Jazz-Double Bass 1998

· Downbeat Student Music Award 1998
Bass-Outstanding Performer
Best Jazz Soloist

· Grammy All American High School Jazz Ensembles New York 1997

· Grammy All American High School Jazz Combo

ARTS Advocacy Week 1997 Washington DC

· Grammy in the Schools Member Jazz Band 1997

· Downbeat Jazz Fest USA Combo First Place winner Orlando Florida

ASCAP and NAMM member.

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