Oct 18, 2022 - Real Estate

Music equipment giant Sweetwater is latest retailer to open warehouse in West Valley

A man holding up a small portable microphone in a warehouse.

Robert Gerwig holds a portable microphone at Sweetwater's new warehouse. Photo: Jessica Boehm/Axios

Sweetwater, the country's largest online retailer of music instruments and pro audio equipment, chose Glendale for its first major distribution center outside its Fort Wayne, Indiana, headquarters.

State of play: The company began leasing 350,000 square feet of warehouse space along Loop 303 this summer and shipped its first package from the facility earlier this month.

Why it matters: Sweetwater joins Amazon, Walmart, REI, Chewy and dozens of other e-commerce operations that have launched distribution centers along the West Valley freeway.

  • In the first half of the year, companies leased 16 million square feet of industrial space in metro Phoenix, making the metro the third busiest for new logistics activity, behind Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth, according to real estate researcher CBRE Group.

Driving the news: As the warehouse centers around the Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, ports fill up and become more expensive, companies are looking for other nearby options and the West Valley is quickly becoming an appealing hub.

What they're thinking: Robert Gerwig, Sweetwater's senior VP of distribution and logistics, tells us that metro Phoenix rose to the top of the list after leadership decided the company needed a West Coast presence.

  • Sweetwater also considered the Los Angeles area, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Reno, Nevada, but ultimately selected the Loop 303 corridor because of its proximity to UPS and FedEx distribution centers, labor availability and business-friendly climate.

Details: The warehouse is slowly getting up to speed and will reach full capacity of fulfilling 3,600 customer orders per day by April.

  • The distribution center will start with about 200 people working a single shift five days per week but will likely grow to three shifts seven days a week, Gerwig says.
  • At least 25% of Sweetwater's orders are expected to ship from Glendale.

What they're saying: "The idea of coming to the West Coast and specifically Phoenix is to reduce the time it takes to get to the customer," Gerwig says.

  • He says large equipment, including drum sets and keyboards, is shipped by ground, which can take four days or more to arrive from the Indiana warehouse to customers in Phoenix or Southern California.
  • Now it will take one or two days.

ğŸŽ¸ 1 fun thing: Leaning into the company's musical background, the distribution center has a small stage where the company plans to host performances by employees.

Worth your time: The Wall Street Journal published a short film last week that visualizes the speedy growth of warehouses in the West Valley.

What's next: So far, all of the developments along Loop 303 have been warehouse and logistics.

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