Todd Robinson says it’s all about being connected. “We want to be part of the neighborhood. We want to be in walking distance,” he says.
It’s easy today to despair at the loss of local independent businesses to the big box retailers. But it’s also easy to find hope. Just walk into Luna Music.
There, you might find Todd Robinson, who started Luna in 1994, standing at the counter. Friendly, full of energy and as hip as they come, Robinson sets the tone for his three stores. His vice president, Jason Pierce, makes the perfect complement — a little taller but equally bright and in touch with the music and art communities.
“The biggest thing we sell is customer service,” Robinson says. “But we don’t think we’re the only ones who know anything. We like to have an active dialogue with our clients when they come in the door.”
It needs to be a two-way street, Robinson says. He or one of his workers may recommend somebody a good record. Or they might hear about something cool from a customer and get it on the shelf. Robinson says it’s all about being connected. That’s part of the plan behind opening stores on Massachusetts Avenue and near Broad Ripple.
“We want to be part of the neighborhood. We want to be in walking distance,” he says. “We want going to Luna to be part of your daily routine of walking around the neighborhood, not something you have to plan like a trip out to a big box.”
Luna’s friendliness spills over into sponsorship and support of many arts and cultural happenings around the city. Luna hosts great live music shows in its stores and produces music on its own record label, putting out work by local bands and larger names like Guided by Voices. “We approach these things with no particular paradigm. We have no red tape, no corporate structure,” Robinson says. “So there’s nothing to stop us from getting involved in all of the great things going on around us. We like to give something back.”
Robinson sees himself and his stores as “facilitators” for bringing together people who love music and culture. He also likes to help bring people a positive experience in his store. “My business is no different than anything else. You have to make it attractive, you have to make it appealing somehow if you are going to ask people to spend a dollar or two more than they would at the big box,” Robinsons says. “It’s great to be able to see that people dig what we do.”
— Jim Walker