Founded as a basement operation in 1989 in North Bay Ontario, Acclaim Sound and Lighting is the first and longest-running online musical instrument retailer in Canada.
Everything began at a wedding where things went wrong. The hired DJ couldn’t provide the service, so the hunt was on to find a replacement on very short notice. This proved to be a difficult task in the second week of September and because “in 1989 the internet was not around and phone calls to hundreds of yellow page ads” gave no results. Through referrals by friends and family, a new DJ was found, but on D-Day things started going downhill. He showed up with a tiny in-doors speaker (for 250 guests!), he didn’t have the music required for the first dance and all of the music was recorded off AM radio. To top it all off, one of the speakers caught fire during the first dance! After a hurried emergency rescue, a back up sound system was found, and the wedding continued.
From such experience came the desire to create a company that could offer better quality and far better service. To this day, they still function on the principles of serving customers with quality and excellence.
The company then began as a DJ operation and at over 1000 events per year. There was an important need for equipment, speakers, lighting, mixing boards, microphones and other gear which weren’t widely available in the nearby marketplace of central Ontario. This opened them to dealerships for many product lines.
After several years of incredible growth, the company opened its first brick and mortar retail operation in 1996 selling speakers, amps, mics, karaoke and a wide variety of other products. A rental department was also created to service the growing needs of other folks in the region.
2000 was the year they added a wide range of musical instruments to our catalog. It was then that they realized that Guitars were outselling many other products, so they decided to split the company into 2 brick and mortar locations that specialize in different client groups and their needs.
Throughout their trajectory, they pioneered many “firsts”. In 1992, Acclaim Sound & Lighting were one of the first 200 registered domains in Canada, when the internet went from green to colour and HTML 1.0.
“Back in those days the internet URL maxed out at a certain number of letters and could not include the word “and” which made it too long, so we chose www.acclaim-music.com, and we still use it to this day.” Explains Tim Hazelwood Director of Operations. “We were online before some of the largest companies out there today. Incredibly, most of our early customers are still with us today!”
They also were the first online mobile-friendly website in the industry and the first to offer free shipping. This goes in line with their principle of providing the “best possible products for the best possible price”.
Acclaim Sound & Lighting carries cutting edge technology in their DNA. Their business depends heavily on the latest technology to accompany the ever-expanding customer base. They’re also dedicated to providing the best customer experience, which comes in handy when buying musical gear. On-site, by phone or online, Acclaim Sound & Lighting has a top-notch staff to assist customers in their choices and needs. They are proud of selling more than a product, thus satisfying customer needs through expert advice.
“Our staff are patient and take the time to provide assistance and expert advice to clients. A rare commodity in this box store world. They also understand our story and where our principles were derived.”
Tim shared with us some words of wisdom from a seasoned pro:
“Stay true to your values. Believe in customer service and commitment to quality. It will pay rewards in the long term and have made our business stay relevant in a world that wants instant gratification.” He added: “When your team is passionate and love what they do daily, it creates a recipe for long term success.”
We can’t deny, in such niche markets, a good customer service, a solid online presence and attractive prices make up the right combination to a successful business strategy. It’s no wonder they’re leading the charge in the online marketplace in the Canadian music retail scene for the past 31 years.