Another work in progress this one. A listing of Ukulele dealers who have a decent reputation.
I say 'work in progress' - I am in the UK, so in the main I have listed stores that I have used and rate. If you want a store added, then email me some details, or leave a comment and in due course I will add to the main page. I am not on the lookout for shops looking for a plug - if you were a buyer and had a good experience, let me know what that was and I will look to add it. So when I say some details, I mean details - I want recommendations that I think are worthy of passing on.
I have, however, added one or two US stores that I haven't personally shopped with, but through the uke community I hear enough good things to be confident in giving you a listing.
A couple of other notes - I always do, and will recommend that if you are buying a uke, try to actually visit the store and check the uke out in person. Speak to a real dealer who can help you, and get touchy feely - for that reason, Amazon etc have no place on the list. That said, I know many people for a variety of reasons cannot visit shops direct and rely on mail order. If that is you, I hope this list helps you as sometimes you have no choice. If I have spoken to an online dealer and asked a question about a uke and got a duff reply, then they are not listed.
Southern Ukulele Store - Based in Bournemouth, the obvious first choice for the UK buyer. Certainly the biggest UK ukulele stock (perhaps largest in the EU) - run by people who know and play ukuleles - instruments for all price ranges - hard to resist. Speak to Rob or Paul. Amazing range, everything from strings and beginner ukes, to the finest handmade instruments. My Kanile'a and my wifes Pono came from here.
Omega Music - Based in Brampton, Cumbria, now stocking a very tasty range of ukes. Great service and a regular at ukulele festivals now. They did a roaring trade at GNUF 2013 and 14 and I am delighted that they are the only UK dealer I know of to stock Bruko ukes.
Highly Strung - a real music shop based in Wantage. - I've always been impressed by the proprietor Nigel and in recent years he has really expanded his uke range. The place I have recommended people get the beginner uke ( the Makala Dolphin ) and he will ensure they arrive set up well. Range is aimed at beginners to lower intermediate budgets. NOTE - Highly Strung are now an ONLINE ONLY retailer.
Eagle Music - based near Huddersfield, this is a well established music store that caters for the folk musician (in the main). Great service, and the only (to date) UK dealer for Mainland Ukuleles. A nice range from beginner to upper intermediate. Great personal service, even if mail order. Check stock direct before ordering though.
Forsyths - based in Manchester - part of a much bigger music store - but with a good ukulele range and people on that side of things who know what they are talking about.
Duke Of Uke - the old famous shop in London, recently moved having been dealt a bad hand on their lease. Service these days improved, but again, CHECK THEIR STOCKS before ordering online. (A better dealer in store than online in my view)
Gamlins - Cardiff based music store - I bought my first Flea ukulele here, and can't fault the service (they are long established) - Uke range seems to vary depending on when I visit though.
Uke Surfer - have not ordered from this shop, but it is run by Risa ukuleles and have an amazing range if you are in the EU. I have had well trusted recommendations of them. They are also the only EU registered dealer of Kamaka ukuleles, and Kamaka do not deal with just anyone.
Elderly Instruments - Not shopped here personally, but hear great things and they seem to have the knack of finding some rare stuff. Besides all the other instruments you will find on this store, they currently have an amazing range. Based in Lansing Michigan.
The Ukulele Site - based on Oahu in Hawaii - not much you can't buy here in the ukulele world and hugely respected
Hilo Guitars and Ukuleles - a great ukulele name, and another Hawaiian store that is famous on the Big Island. Ken Cameron created Hilo guitars, and they have a massive authentic range.
Mainland Ukes - not a store in the normal sense, but the online store for Mainland - I play one, and therefore Mike at Mainland gets a shout out - buy direct!
Mims Ukes - ultra popular store from Virginia - off Blue Ridge Parkway - get into the uke community and before long you all come across Mim- great stock range.
Uke Republic - Well regarded store - a real bricks and mortar shop that also sell their own line of Sailor brand ukes
Why are there not more? Surely loads of music stores sell instruments? Well, yes, they do - but these named above are proper specialists! There is honestly nothing worse than a chain of music stores who stock ukuleles to get on the bandwagon without really knowing anything about them. You know who you are!