Exotic Drums Playing Well for Percussionist

Weekly Briefing

In Los Angeles, finding a djembe, a West African drum, or a Native American tom-tom can be difficult. So two years ago, Houston-born Chris Reid started selling rare and exotic drums on his Web site, Bangadrum.com. Customers interested in drums for cultural or recreational purposes can choose from over 300 items that include percussion instruments, books, videos and CDs. Reid and his wife, Shannon, also have a showroom at their Los Angeles home. They plan to open a retail store in Westwood next month.

"I wanted to fill in the gaps that exist at larger music stores. We started as a Web site to put quality drums in the hands of people who don't have access to them. We place orders from Alaska, the Midwest, army bases from all over.

"Our customers use drums for a number of reasons. Some people want to get in touch with their roots and have come to really love the music. And some people play drums to blow off steam. It's a great stress reliever.

"I grew up playing the drums and rock 'n' roll. I played in bands growing up and recorded with people who needed session drummers. A job at an airline allowed me to travel and inspired me to start an import business.

"Our first shipment of drums came from Turkey and India. We started small and used our credit cards. We have a room that we use as a showroom in our home but opening a retail store will allow us to display more products and offer lessons.

"Our drums range from $8 to $390. Most popular is the djembe, a goblet shaped West African drum carved of wood known for its deep, rich bass tone. We import them from Ghana, Mali, the Ivory Coast and Guinea. We also sell drums from Egypt and Native American tom-tom and Sioux drums. We also sell frame drums from all over the world.

"We'd like to grow to include steel drums from Trinidad, Japanese taiko drums and drums from Indonesia. Right now we are focusing on retail but haven't closed off the idea of doing a wholesale business."

Samantha Lee

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