Identifying a gap in the market, Nick Kanaris has brought the Greek instrument to the masses.
Just before Christmas, JB HiFi’s General Manager of Musical Instruments, Nick Kanaris, decided to stock Greece’s national instrument the bouzouki in stores around Melbourne. As a bouzouki aficionado – he’s been playing from the age of ten – and a parent of children in the local Greek school, he was often the first port of call for parents and friends looking to buy this instrument. What followed exceeded his expectations – nearly all stores sold out of the Greek instrument.
“I was constantly getting asked by parents – because they knew I play the instrument – ‘where could I buy a bouzouki’,” Mr Kanaris tells Neos Kosmos. He says there are only a few stores nationally where you can buy them and sourcing the instrument in Australia – a good quality bouzouki – has been difficult for anyone trying to buy one. He himself travelled to Greece early last year to purchase the instrument.
Whilst there, he passionately researched bouzouki makers (luthiers) around Athens to find the right place where he could import the instrument through distributors in Australia.
“There was a lot of work I did over in Greece, speaking to different luthiers and speaking to different makers, to ensure we found a product that is good quality,” he explains, ”
“Because bouzoukia are 100 per cent hand-made – there are no robotics in the process so no fancy technology you get with a lot of modern guitars – so trying to get a consistent product is not easy.”
Yet he is confident with the luthier they found in Athens to stock the bouzoukia in Australia, where every single bouzouki is hand checked for quality and consistency by the distributor.
Having children attend the local Greek school, Nestoras College, and watching their music program expand – and that of other Greek schools wanting their children to connect with their Greek culture through music – his quest began from there. And having a passion for the instrument himself, it was just a matter of time before he stocked the instrument in stores around Australia. And so far, it’s been a smart choice for the company.
“We almost sold out in a couple of stores, but it’s still at its very early stages,” he says. “We haven’t even done any advertising or haven’t been in any catalogues – it’s just been putting them in the stores.” He said prior to the bouzoukia being stocked, many people were on a waiting list to purchase the instrument – demand was that high.
“Parents like myself want to maintain as much of the Greek culture as possible through our kids, but because they are hand made it’s not something that is produced very quickly.”
As it stands, the Greek instruments are stocked in the Northland and Doncaster stores in Victoria, and Bankstown in New South Wales, with a view to expanding to the Northern Territory but also more stores across Australia in the future.
He says the plan is to continue to have the Greek instrument in stock that will also work closely with the education department at JB HiFi.
“We have a team nationally that looks after and services primary, secondary and tertiary schools all over Australia,” Mr Kanaris says. So even though the company is known for their retail stores, they are also working closely with music education for students all over Australia.
source: Neos Kosmos