An Interview with Charlie Andrews of Badges Drum Shop in Mason, Ohio

badges drum shop exterior

It’s appropriately bursting at the seams with drums and cymbals that look right at home.

Enjoy this insightful read with the owner of Badges Drum Shop in Mason, Ohio – Charlie Andrews. 

We discuss the history of Badges and its location, the challenges and rewards of being a drum shop owner, the top selling product category, and what to expect from Badges and the drum community in upcoming years.

Table of Contents

Learning how someone got to where they are today is always interesting. What's the origin story of Badges?

Drumming has been the absolute focus and joy of my life.

I wasn’t 100% certain what to do with that career-wise.

When college took me to Nashville and then an internship at Pearl Drums I experienced the business side and product development side of the drum industry and fell in love with it.

At a later internship my boss who was a drummer saw an opportunity in Cincinnati for a true drum shop.

I’ll forever be grateful to him for encouraging me to be the one to fill that hole.

After college I decided to take that leap of faith and built Badges Drum Shop.

It is, after all, more than a business to me; it’s a way to share the instrument I love.

Tell us about Badges Drum Shop's location, the building, and its history.

Mason, OH

My shop is located in a historic building in Mason, Ohio, the town I grew up in and a wonderful place to be.

Mason is about a third of the way between Cincinnati and Dayton and centrally located between two nearby major interstates, so it’s easy to get to yet has that small town vibe that people seem to love.

Shop & Building History

I initially set up shop in a building four doors away, moving to my current location in 2022.

Both historic buildings required a good deal of work to make them function and feel right for a drum shop, but I have generous friends and family who were willing to help me bring that vision to reality.

My current spot was built in 1901 first as a variety shop, then became a Kroger, a diner, a pony portrait studio, an insurance office, and a drapery shop until that generous drapery shop owner sold me the building in 2022.

She and her husband had put in the work to reveal some of its historic features like its 14’ tin ceiling that serves as the architectural highlight of the store.

I had to move some doors and walls and make some cosmetic changes to make it serve my needs, and the building truly feels like it was custom made for Badges Drum Shop.

It’s appropriately bursting at the seams with drums and cymbals that look right at home.

inside badges drum shop

What’s been the hardest part about owning your drum shop?

I think most drum shop owners would admit it’s a hard way to make a living so you have to truly deeply want to do it.

Margins are thin, the hours unending, and the work physically and mentally taxing, but it’s also a labor of love and the source of much joy and personal satisfaction.

I try to think of this business as more of a service than a shop, not so much aiming to “sell” drums as match drummers with the right tools, showing respect for drummers’ needs and goals and budgets to help them achieve more success or satisfaction as a drummer.

I carry only products I believe in so I can make every sale large and small with confidence of that satisfaction.

And the only thing that’s hard about that is that I can never mentally check out.

The reward is a community of wonderfully loyal friends to me and the shop.

What is your best selling product(s)?

It’s not so much one product as a category of products which is cymbals. It seems a drummer can never have enough as there are so many beautiful options.

cymbal display badges drum shop

What’s one of your favorite memories since starting Badges?

There are many but a memory that means a lot to me is how this community came together in 2020 when live music became considered a health risk instead of the healing medicine it has always been.

My customers who play for a living lost their livelihoods. Some customers ended up in the hospital with their lives at risk.

My business initially suffered as I did not have enough history to qualify for PPP loans, so I stopped paying myself to cover my bills.

Things looked pretty dire for a lot of us.

What happened is that people in this community who could bless others did. People collaborated musically online. They raised money for one another. They supported one another and supported my business.

They found healthy ways to deliver music and music lessons and I believe all of that was true ministry to the broader community.

What are some new or popular trends in the drumming world you are keeping a close eye on?

I actually don’t think about that much, as weird as that sounds.

I do spend a good deal of time learning about new products but what I really want to know is what do people love that I need to make sure to have for them – the classic products that consistently make people happy again and again and the perfect one-offs they can’t find anyplace else.

front of badges drum shop

What can the drum community expect from Badges in 2024?

The goal is to always offer more and better, so I’m soon adding a couple of oft-requested brands, always restocking favorite brands with either the same great models or new custom options, and of course bringing in more used and vintage all the time.

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