It may be rare in this day and age to find a local business still thriving after 30 years, but it’s even rarer to find the head of that business still channeling their passion into their everyday work. After more than three decades in the music business, Musicians Discount Center owner Mike Cohen still brings his love of music to the store every day, working with professionals and amateurs to help fuel their same passion. “We’re probably the largest independent music store left in Miami,” says Cohen. “I’m very proud of it. It’s been 30 years, not many people can say that.” We spoke with Cohen about diversification, being adaptable in a new age and the thrill of serving generations of South Floridians.
So, tell us how this all got started
I was a business major at the University of Florida, but in my senior year of college I went on the road with a band. I did that for about nine months or something and then I came back and needed something to do, so I opened a little record store in 1981. Then, I opened a second store in Cauley Square. It was a record store but I started putting a few instruments in there. I did that for a year or two and finally opened a store outside of Homestead Air Force base, still just a record store. It was going well and I was still playing in bands and touring so I decided to start putting more instruments in. First guitar strings, then guitars and amps. In 1987 I decided to open on the other side of the base and that was the first Musicians Discount Center. I opened this location 1989.
I would imagine you’ve seen a lot of changes in South Florida.
Well, my first store was up and running until Hurricane Andrew. It wiped out the store and I ended up closing it. This store was shut down for one year as we rebuilt. But instead of just giving up, I saw an opportunity. Everyone’s instruments were destroyed from the storm, so I knew they would have to buy new ones. I had about 20 years of great business after that and we’re still doing well!
How have you managed to sustain your success?
We’re very diversified. I got out of the record business years ago but we decided to bring it back and the vinyl is doing great. We were named one of the “Top 5 Record Stores in Miami” by the The New Times. We sell turntables, power amps… we’re a really unique store. I’m also very much into artwork, so you can come in and see some amazing art. It’s unlike the bigger box stores. It’s much more personal, the attention you get here is really special. It’s more like a home; it’s not a typical retail store
What lessons would you share with younger business owners?
You have to learn to adapt. It goes for anything in life… if you don’t adapt you’re done. The storms, the hurricane, all kinds of adversity; you’ve got to keep smiling and going with your heart. If there’s no passion then why bother? I love selling and I love dealing with the public. I’ve been very lucky and blessed. Most people get jobs and they don’t really like them, and I’ve been able to do what I love. I still get to play in bands. I’m still doing what I love to do. I’m pretty happy.
The store has really become a part of the community.
We have customers who have been coming here for years. When I opened the store I had a lot of Dads and their kids, and now those kids are coming in with their children. It’s amazing that I’ve been able to sustain generations. And some of those kids have kids. It’s kind of bizarre. But I’m still here; they all know me. I truly enjoy all of it.
Musicians Discount Center in Miami help you find the instrument that suits you and your needs. They are the one stop music shop that has been sharing their expertise with others for many years. Stop in and let the sounds of music begin in your house today. Contact Musicians Discount Center at 305-255-9466 or visit musiciansdiscountcenter.net.