Traditional pianos are playing the blues
Unless you have a Steinway, your grandmother's much-loved black-and-white ivory keys are destined to join many others in the landfill.
Here's some news you don't hear often in our disposable society. It involves a U.S. company started 160 years ago that's still crafting world-class products today that are much in demand. However, another part of this story is all too familiar.
Like other companies, Steinway struggled through the recession, reporting a 20% annual decline in its high-end grand piano sales between 2005 and 2008.
And while those numbers have come back with the economic recovery, they're still being tempered by exports from China, Asia's largest piano maker.
As Al Lewis recently blogged over at MarketWatch, one way of looking at Steinway is as its own biggest rival. How's that?
"Because Steinway pianos are built to last for generations, a relatively large market exists for used Steinways," said the company's annual report. "It is difficult to estimate the significance of used piano sales because most are conducted in the private aftermarket. However, we believe that used Steinway pianos provide the most significant competition in the high-end piano market."
According to Lewis, a good Steinway appreciates at a steady annually rate of about 4%, "better than some stocks, bonds and mutual funds -- because the company raises its prices every year to maintain its renowned level of quality."
Sadly, however, the steadily rising value of a used Steinway can't be said about everyday, household pianos. Indeed, Steinway is one of the few companies anywhere bucking the trend of our current throwaway society. Once a staple piece of furniture in middle-class American homes, more pianos are ending up in trash dumps to be broken up and recycled for their wood and metal.
A number of factors are behind the decline of the traditional piano. Along with the required maintenance to keep them in tune, many are being replaced by lightweight and portable electronic keyboards or by less expensive wooden pianos from overseas.
So what do you do with a heavy, unloved and not particularly valuable piano -- especially since the instrument's lifespan is about 80 years and so many of them still out there are reaching the end of their time?
You dump them, of course -- which has been a boon for piano movers and disposal businesses in recent years.
There's at least one alternative. The owner of a New Hampshire piano-moving company has created PianoAdoption.com, a site whose mission is to find "a new home for all serviceable pianos before they end up in the local landfill." Unless, of course, your piano happens to be a Steinway.
I bought my wife a used piano for $500. It cost me $400 to move it 5 miles to our house. We may have been better off buying a new piano .
Look in Craigslist, people are giving them away.
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
A basic income policy can actually ensure a decent standard of living for everyone.
- People left $500,000 in coins at airports last year
- How your driving can affect your credit
- Obamacare projected to cost hundreds of billions less
- November jobs report: Winners and losers
- Student loan debt climbs for 5th year in a row
- Wall Street finally notices Bitcoin
- Part-time workers hurt by on-call system
- 5 myths about late payments and your FICO scores
- Auto loan interest rates hit record low
[BRIEFING.COM] A solid November employment report translated into a solid day of gains for the major averages. While there was some talk that the encouraging job growth raised the odds of the Fed announcing a tapering at its December meeting, the message of the markets today was either that it didn't believe there would be a tapering this month or that it doesn't fear a tapering this month.
It was just one day, yet there was ample meaning wrapped up in the connection that the 10-yr ... More
More Market News
The Fed may start tapering in just a few months. Here are a few of the likely winners and losers.