The Piano Man Easterly Road: Meet the friendly piano shop that's celebrating 20 years in east Leeds

A friendly Leeds piano shop is celebrating two decades in the business - with sales stronger than ever.

By Abbey Maclure
Sunday, 1st May 2022, 4:30 pm

Mark Crossland established The Piano Man in Easterly Road in 2002, after he went in search of a piano and was "dismayed" by the lack of expertise on offer.

He was previously in the furniture business, but his first job after leaving school was in a family-owned music shop, where he learnt the tricks of the trade.

“I saw an opportunity to establish a business," Mark, 51, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

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The Piano Man owner Mark Crossland, centre, pictured with tuner David Broadhead, left, and musical advisor Oliver Barker, right (Photo: Simon Hulme)

"So that’s what I did.”

The business got off to a good start on its opening day; Mark sold pianos to two customers from Halifax and Ossett and one of them is still in touch to this day.

He now turns over around 10 times more per annum than in his first year and is one of the country's largest piano stockists.

When customers walk through the doors, they can expect to be greeted by Mark or his in-store musical advisor Oliver Barker, a graduate of Leeds College of Music (now Leeds Conservatoire).

Mark said the attention to detail, good products and wraparound customer service is is the secret to The Piano Man's success (Photo: Simon Hulme)

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Oliver not only advises customers on the best purchases, but offers a wealth of music knowledge - he's even given customer's guidance on how to compose songs.

Around a month after purchase, customers will receive a personal visit from The Piano Man's tuner David Broadhead.

Mark said the attention to detail and wraparound customer service is the secret to his success over the last 20 years.

Mark is confident The Piano Man will be around for another 20 years (Photo: Simon Hulme)

“You never know who’s going to walk through that door from one day to the next," he added.

"There’s always an element of surprise there, it doesn't feel like we’re going to work.

"We just feel like we’re going from our home to our second home, that just happens to be a shop full of pianos.”

For a business centred around customer service and personal expertise, the pandemic through a spanner in the works.

The Piano Man launched mail order purchasing, but customers were required to call the shop to make the order - and received video demonstrations over Facetime and WhatsApp.

Mark said: “In all my working life, I’ve always been motivated to turn out to work in the morning and do the best I possibly can.

"When the Prime Minister says on national TV on a Monday night that you’re going to close your shop tomorrow, it’s a weird thing to get your head around.

"You can't become an online retailer overnight, but by lockdown number two, we were flying high.

"We actually did more business than the previous November when the shop was open - we were sending pianos all over the country.”

As shoppers turned to online retailers, the pandemic has seen the demise of many independent shops on the high street.

But Mark is "absolutely not frightened" that it will take away from his business and has seen customers flood through the doors since Covid restrictions were lifted.

"We’ve learnt through all of this that bricks and mortar retail is never going to go away," Mark said.

"With a product like ours, people want to see it, touch it, play it and hear it. They want to be amongst it.

"I’m very confident that we’ll be here for the next 20 years."