Father-son musicians open online guitar shop

With a huge collection of more than 100 guitars, Gil Groff was running out of space. His son, senior Zack Groff, launched Groff Guitars, an online retailer that refurbishes and sells instruments. People collect many

With a huge collection of more than 100 guitars, Gil Groff was running out of space. His son, senior Zack Groff, launched Groff Guitars, an online retailer that refurbishes and sells instruments.

People collect many things – stamps, coins and antiques. Senior political science major Zack Groff’s dad, Gil Groff, collected music instruments. His collection boasted hundreds of guitars. It reached a point where Gil Groff had to store some of the instruments at friends’ houses.

Zack Groff and his mom both realized the collection was getting to be too much. His dad suggested his son sell some of the instruments and use the money to pay for tuition.

Zack Groff started selling some of the instruments on eBay approximately five years ago. Last year, eBay changed some of its policies. Zack Groff said it became harder to sell items with these new rules. So he thought it would be easier to just start his own online company. Thus, Groff Guitars was born. The website went live on April 25, 2011.

The goal was to get rid of the instruments his dad accumulated during a 25-year period.

Zack Groff had no formal training or education in running a business. He used how-to-books and guides to learn what he needed to know and “not get audited by the IRS,” he said.  He registered the company with his local government and has a merchant license and certificate of occupancy, which allows him to operate out of his home.

Zack Groff’s dad has been a bassist for decades and currently plays in multiple bands.

“He’s got a real ear for it and heart for it. If I can attribute my love of music to anyone it would probably be my dad,” Zack Groff said.

Many of the music shop owners in the area know his dad because he’s been to all the stores to buy instruments. They all know him when he walks in the door as “Gil’s son.”

Like his father, Zack Groff’s background is primarily in performing music.

“I joined a band called Constant Recourse about 10 years ago. I was in that band for about five years. We cut two professionally produced albums,” Zack Groff said.

They played shows extensively throughout the area. He once performed at the Trocadero, which he said was a “surreal spot,” standing on a stage where so many musicians before have played. The band also had a number of small tours and one larger one from Philadelphia to Albuquerque, N.M.

In 2010, Zack Groff left Constant Recourse. His wedding was approaching and he felt it was the right time to move on from the band.  He said there was “no animosity among band-mates.” Zack Groff wanted to have weekends for time with his wife.

One year later, he felt the void so many musicians do when they are not playing in a band or out at shows.

“Something was missing. Not being in a band was killing me.”

His wife encouraged him to get back to playing music.

Since then, he started a band with his friend. They created several songs, but are still looking for a lead guitarist to add to the lineup.

During the last year, Zack Groff sold several thousand dollars of instruments through the website.

He said he has learned more about business throughout the process. Considering “the best form of advertising is word of mouth,” Zack Groff created an authorized referrer program, which is free to sign up for. If a sale is made because someone referred a customer to Groff Guitars, that referrer is then entitled to 10 percent of the sales.

“I have a few people signed up for that, but haven’t had any sales through that,” he said.

Groff Guitars also offers sound systems. Groff said he has a modest sound system, relatively portable.

“I could provide the sound for a small- to medium-sized venue,” he added. “I haven’t had anyone take me up on this. During summer and after graduation I will probably advertise more heavily for that.”

There are 150 more items left to sell from his dad’s collection. He does not plan on buying additional instruments to sell. If he does choose to reinvest, he said he would want to put the money into resources to build his own guitars.

His interest really lies in performing versus selling. However, he is not opposed to the idea of having a music store, but he wants to “do repairs as a hobby.”

Zack Groff will graduate in a few weeks and will have a number of significant events that happened during his time at Temple. In addition to completing an undergraduate degree, with minors in Arabic, history and philosophy, he can add starting an online business to his résumé.

His daughter Zoey was also born in 2011.

“I would love to be able to run a music store and have that be my livelihood. I know a lot of guys who do it. A lot of those guys are independently wealthy before they start their music stores,” Zack Groff said,

While he does not plan on making Groff Guitars his main source of income, he likes the interactions with customers in the area.

“I really enjoy driving around and meeting people. I’ve dealt with high quality individuals in the area,” Zack Groff said.

Maura Filoromo can be reached at maura.filoromo@temple.edu.


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