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VOL. 127 | NO. 239 | Friday, December 07, 2012

Google Enables Virtual Tour of Amro Music

By Andy Meek

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Google has extended its Street View technology inside select shops and businesses around the country.

And the new feature, which allows users to search for a participating business and then virtually browse inside it, has started to show up in Memphis.

If someone visits the Google homepage and searches for “Amro Music,” they’ll be taken to a list of search results as normal for the longtime Memphis instrument and music shop at 2918 Poplar Ave. On the side of the page, though, they’ll also find clickable images labeled “See the inside” and “See the outside.”

Choosing the “inside” option would present someone with the same functionality that people have used to enjoy the Street View feature. The cursor can be placed at any point on the image of Amro’s interior, and the image will then refresh to give the same effect as if the viewer walked to that point inside the store in real life.

Clicking directional arrows will tilt the view up, down and from side to side. The bottom line: presumably anyone with Internet access now can “see” inside the Amro store, starting with a reception area and then branching off almost anywhere he or she chooses.

“People sometimes don’t realize we have a pretty large store,” said Emily Simpson, events and marketing coordinator for Amro. “We have over 100 pianos on our floor, 300 instruments on display. You can go upstairs into our auditorium. So this really opens up a lot of doors.

“This was another outlet for you to be able to see inside the store.”

–Emily Simpson
Events and marketing coordinator, Amro Music

“We’ve won awards for having the best merchandising display, and we like to show it off. This was another outlet for you to be able to see inside the store.”

Google says the program is being pursued with select businesses on a voluntary basis. And Simpson said one of the few requirements was that a Google-certified photographer needed to be used.

“Building on the Google Art Project, which took Street View technology inside 17 acclaimed museums, this project is another creative implementation of Street View technology, to help businesses as they build their online presence,” reads a statement from Google. “We hope to enable businesses to highlight the qualities that make their locations stand out through professional, high-quality imagery.”

CJ Averwater, Amro’s general manager, found out about Google’s new business photos feature and spearheaded Amro’s efforts to be involved.

“We’re very proud of our store and its merchandising,” Averwater said. “We have over 300 band and orchestra instruments on display, and that is a very powerful image to someone walking in. This will allow customers in Arkansas or Mississippi to experience that, almost as though they were here in person.”

To be sure, it’s a kind of advertising that’s a far cry from the store’s humble beginnings, when Amro advertised in a more old-fashioned and charming way.

In 1921, Mil Averwater rented a second-floor studio at 166 S. Main St. to give piano lessons. The studio grew over time, and Averwater added lessons for saxophone, banjo and guitar.

Amro Studios, as it was then known, became a quick success that was helped along by the way Averwater advertised. He opened the windows to let people hear the sound of the pianos.

When passersby stepped inside out of curiosity, they were swiftly sold lesson packages.

Since those days, the business has grown to its present location on Poplar under the name Amro Music, and it’s today a nationally recognized music retailer.

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