Lucky Patrick O’Brien
Local entrepreneur fell into his dream job selling custom pedals
Leprechaun FX was created two years ago by accident after Patrick O’Brien began installing mods or enhancements on wah-wah pedals for other musicians. The bassist then began purchasing boutique pedals and other accessories for himself. Once he acquired a sizable number of pedals, word began to spread amongst local musicians and O’Brien became somewhat of a dealer for boutique gear.
“It was addicting man. Boutique pedals are just special. They’re hand made, use better components, and tweak the circuits to make better sound,” he says. “And they give you more room to experiment than normal stock pedals do. Once I started to bring more and more in, these local guys thanked me and told me to bring more.”
Once O’Brien started getting requests for different kinds of gear, his wife Irene— a professional freelance graphic designer—constructed the website and the logo of an Irish rock n’ roll cartoon.
Now Leprechaun FX has 80 plus pedals, but also carries other accessories such as power supplies, picks, guitar straps, patch cables, and a Bad Cat tube amplifier. At the moment Leprechaun FX is online only, but O’Brien easily sees the need for a shop.
“We’re growing towards it,” he says. “I don’t want to compete with the big dogs in town, but I want a nice little boutique shop where we can keep gear, do demos, guitar set ups, and have more kinds of accessories like amps and stuff like that.”
Right now, O’Brien is having trouble with keeping many of his pedals in stock. One of his top selling brands is Dr. Scientist, which was born in Edmonton, but is now based out of the Okanagan in British Columbia. Their digital multi-effects pedal BitQuest, which is essentially five to six different pedals fused together, can make any instrument sound like a harpsichord or a short-circuiting computer, as well as a plethora of other sounds.Everybody wants one.
O’Brien is also a huge supporter of the local music scene. Leprechaun FX sponsored this year’s Edmonton Music Awards and can always be seen promoting shows and album releases for local bands on Facebook.
“I’d say 40 per cent of my customers are local musicians,” he says. “We’re building a community. They support me and a lot of this business’ growth has been through bands talking to other bands.”
At the moment, O’Brien’s day job is structural steel fitting. His dream is to one day have Leprechaun FX be his full time career.
“My mom grew up with the mindset that you don’t ever have to be happy with your job as long as you have a job. Why the hell not? Why can’t I be happy with my job? Dealing pedals makes me happy.”
While Leprechaun FX has had success there are many obstacles—mostly financial.
“I have to sell a lot of pedals to break even. So right now it’s about getting set up to find an affordable pedal shop. We have to admit that Alberta isn’t the best market right now so anything you do is going to be a risk.”
He gets a bit emotional after reflecting on the success of Leprechaun FX. He’s going to be at this for a long time.
“It’s overwhelming to think how well it has done in only two years. I’ve had amazing support from the music scene and this gets me involved with these awesome people.”
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