Dave Dumont has been attached to the piano since he was 8.
The Illinois native graduated from the Boston Conservatory of Music in 1976, with a major in music education and piano. He has had gigs around the country, including backing musicians at the old Circle Star Theater in Redwood City, as well as performing a synthesizer version of the “Star Spangled Banner” to open Steve Wozniak’s US Festivals in the 1980s.
The Lil’ Big Band, a band he started with sax and flute player David Ladd, is nearly four decades strong. He also co-founded the Steinway Society, a Bay Area nonprofit that promotes classical piano music in education.
For the past 43 years, Dumont has been heavily involved in the retail side of the music industry, including a stint as vice president of Stevens Music in San Jose, as well as opening Gilroy Piano Outlet in 2016. He estimates he’s sold $30 million worth of pianos over his career, and learned early on that such a path would be much more financially beneficial than relying on gigs.
Now 68, Dumont is ready to slow the tempo. He said he wants to spend more time with his wife, who is soon retiring, and focus on traveling, golfing and his lifelong passion, tomatoes.
As such, Dumont is winding down operations of Gilroy Piano Outlet, 8401 Church St., and is liquidating his inventory with massive sales leading up to the store’s closure on Oct. 15.
Gilroy Piano Outlet is the last piano store between San Jose and Monterey, according to Dumont.
Dumont is serious about his 5,500-square-foot store’s closing discounts. He pointed to many instances of what he refers to as “great bargains,” with prices ranging in the low triple-digits for a preowned piano to $35,000 for a Steinway grand piano that typically averages $100,000.
And customers are responding. During a presale event in June, Dumont said he sold 21 pianos over a weekend.
When the pandemic hit, it forced Dumont to rethink his business model, halting various events and classes in the store and turning to an appointment-only model. At the same time, however, he said he was “selling pianos faster than we could get them,” possibly due to people attempting to learn the instrument while they stayed at home.
“I have a nice niche here,” he said.
But then a computer chip shortage hit, which is affecting countless industries worldwide, and Dumont said he was faced with a months-long delay in new inventory.
Such chips are critical to digital and “hybrid” pianos, where with a swipe of a screen on a mobile device, they can play the exact notes to countless songs and even add accompanying instruments to the beat. Dumont said he’s seen a major uptick in popularity with these types of pianos over the past decade, especially among tech-savvy consumers.
“I think the future of music is in the hybrid and digital pianos,” Dumont said.
The inventory struggles also played a role in his retirement decision.
Once retired, Dumont is going to turn his focus toward the World Tomato Society, a Los Gatos-based organization dedicated to preserving tomato seeds and educating the public on the importance of organic farming.
The society currently has more than 910,000 followers on Facebook, where it states it has developed a catalog of nearly 6,000 tomato varieties.
Dumont said teaching the next generation how to grow their own food is not only good for the planet, but also fun.
“Tomatoes are a good entry into the world of organic farming,” he said.
Gilroy Piano Outlet is located at 8401 Church St. For information, visit gilroypianooutlet.com or call 408.767.2990.