Why No Big Warehouse-Type AV Stores?

sholling

sholling

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
1,253
#21
I used to live close to a fry's but I almost refused to go there unless I knew they had something I needed. Some of their people were pretty good, but for the most part didn't even know where things were. No logical organization. BB isn't near as bad. Plus, those poor guys are straight commission in the AV dept.
I pretty much stopped shopping at Fry's back in the 90s when their California stores developed a reputation for reselling returned as defective RAM and reshrinkwrapping and selling as new returned motherboards and video cards. How well earned that reputation was I cannot say but after I got a couple of DOA advertised special motherboards in a row I said never again.
 
R

Richard Berg

Audioholic Intern
Ratings
3
#22
I think we are headed to exotic high priced boutique gear with a tiny market and DIY.
Agreed. We've already seen this in other industries. Part of it is consumer preference, as mentioned, but continued income stratification is also coming into play. Targeted luxury-only brands (vs full-range product lineups) are increasingly seen as the highest ROI in a top heavy economy.
 
Montucky

Montucky

Full Audioholic
Ratings
114
#23
One reason- whatever you stock, people will want something else.
You got that right! At my store, I could only carry so many brands due to money and store space. I had a pretty darned good selection for the size, and had people covered from satellites to towers, subs to receivers to TV to projectors, from entry level to high end. But I can't tell you how many people were flat out not interested in some of my EXCELLENT brands, because they just wanted Bose, Beats, etc.. I had to do a LOT of educating, which I really did enjoy, but still frustrating when multi billion dollar marketing blinds them to some of the good, reputable brands we all know and love here at Audioholics. Not carrying Bose et al was a hill my business died on (among a multitude of other reasons). I probably left a lot of money on the table by doing that, but I have my principles.

Then, try to compete with online prices.
One of the biggest frustrations was that we were pretty much EXACTLY the same prices as any online authorized dealer, like Sony for example. We were official dealers for them and other brands, so had authorized prices to go by and they let us know about sales events so we could be perfectly competitive. Yet, many consumers these days just ASSUMED they were getting a better deal from Amazon or Best Buy, but they weren't at all. And when they DID find a way better deal online, it was from less than reputable non-authorized resellers like East Coast TVs.

Retail's a tough game these days. Amazon is one of the biggest culprits. Again, people just ASSUME they're getting a better deal from them and I lost a lot of sales to them. Toward the end of my store, I started to get downright annoyed when a customer would call our store to ask us to come install equipment they bought online when they saved zero dollars going that route and we needed every dime we could get to stay afloat, so even TV margins were vital. Then they'd ask us technical questions for these items they purchased online. We'd constantly get phone calls to the store like "I bought this TV off of Amazon and can't get my Netflix to work. Could you tell me how to do that real quick?" I used to be a lot nicer about it in an effort of goodwill, but after a while, I had to be like "Sorry, I'm not familiar with that model. You'll have to call Amazon." People also did a LOT of using us as their Amazon/online showroom so to speak. For the love of God, people. Please don't abuse your local mom & pops brick and mortars like this. Sigh...
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Samurai
Ratings
973 5
#24
You got that right! At my store, I could only carry so many brands due to money and store space. I had a pretty darned good selection for the size, and had people covered from satellites to towers, subs to receivers to TV to projectors, from entry level to high end. But I can't tell you how many people were flat out not interested in some of my EXCELLENT brands, because they just wanted Bose, Beats, etc.. I had to do a LOT of educating, which I really did enjoy, but still frustrating when multi billion dollar marketing blinds them to some of the good, reputable brands we all know and love here at Audioholics. Not carrying Bose et al was a hill my business died on (among a multitude of other reasons). I probably left a lot of money on the table by doing that, but I have my principles.


One of the biggest frustrations was that we were pretty much EXACTLY the same prices as any online authorized dealer, like Sony for example. We were official dealers for them and other brands, so had authorized prices to go by and they let us know about sales events so we could be perfectly competitive. Yet, many consumers these days just ASSUMED they were getting a better deal from Amazon or Best Buy, but they weren't at all. And when they DID find a way better deal online, it was from less than reputable non-authorized resellers like East Coast TVs.

Retail's a tough game these days. Amazon is one of the biggest culprits. Again, people just ASSUME they're getting a better deal from them and I lost a lot of sales to them. Toward the end of my store, I started to get downright annoyed when a customer would call our store to ask us to come install equipment they bought online when they saved zero dollars going that route and we needed every dime we could get to stay afloat, so even TV margins were vital. Then they'd ask us technical questions for these items they purchased online. We'd constantly get phone calls to the store like "I bought this TV off of Amazon and can't get my Netflix to work. Could you tell me how to do that real quick?" I used to be a lot nicer about it in an effort of goodwill, but after a while, I had to be like "Sorry, I'm not familiar with that model. You'll have to call Amazon." People also did a LOT of using us as their Amazon/online showroom so to speak. For the love of God, people. Please don't abuse your local mom & pops brick and mortars like this. Sigh...
As much as I loved my A/V sales job, I don't miss it for the exact reasons you just stated.

People would buy from us (amazon wasn't what it is now) and refuse installer service. Then call and want to have us on the phone for an hour telling them how to hook it up. I don't mind the simple stuff, but I'm a sales guy, not a phone tech. I had to gently remind them that they could have had us come do the simple install for them and that I was not able to stay on the phone. I was good enough at talking to people that they usually just bought the install.

One guy (nice guy) in particular asked if he could bring the receiver diagram with him to the store and have me just go over it with him real quick and I said sure.

He brings in the sheet Denon provides with ALL OF THE POSSIBLE ways to connect video to the receiver. He was stumped as to how to connect all of the different types of video to his TV. I promptly let him know to use HDMI and be done with it. He hadn't grasped that the diagram was there to show a multitude of ways to connect, not the required ways to connect. He got red faced embarrassed when he realized what he'd tried to do. He was very happy to have it simplified for him. I didn't mind the 3 minutes it took me to clear that up for him.
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
2,277 7 3
#25
That whole "use the B&M as the online show-room" is a real killer!

And, poor etiquette at that.

I'm all for online purchases, but if I'm gonna go demo, then I'm gonna buy from the people that invested their time in me. If I don't, then that shop won't be there for me the next time.

Furthermore, when I go out shopping, I always ask if the salesman works on commission. If he does, then I want the person investing time in me to make that commission. If I don't purchase that day, then I tell the salesman, "I'm going to browse some of your competitors, but give me your business card and if I come back to purchase here, then I'm asking to continue to work directly with you".
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Warlord
Ratings
2,562 9 4
#27
One of the biggest frustrations was that we were pretty much EXACTLY the same prices as any online authorized dealer, like Sony for example. We were official dealers for them and other brands, so had authorized prices to go by and they let us know about sales events so we could be perfectly competitive. Yet, many consumers these days just ASSUMED they were getting a better deal from Amazon or Best Buy, but they weren't at all. And when they DID find a way better deal online, it was from less than reputable non-authorized resellers like East Coast TVs.

Retail's a tough game these days. Amazon is one of the biggest culprits. Again, people just ASSUME they're getting a better deal from them and I lost a lot of sales to them. Toward the end of my store, I started to get downright annoyed when a customer would call our store to ask us to come install equipment they bought online when they saved zero dollars going that route and we needed every dime we could get to stay afloat, so even TV margins were vital. Then they'd ask us technical questions for these items they purchased online. We'd constantly get phone calls to the store like "I bought this TV off of Amazon and can't get my Netflix to work. Could you tell me how to do that real quick?" I used to be a lot nicer about it in an effort of goodwill, but after a while, I had to be like "Sorry, I'm not familiar with that model. You'll have to call Amazon." People also did a LOT of using us as their Amazon/online showroom so to speak. For the love of God, people. Please don't abuse your local mom & pops brick and mortars like this. Sigh...
I'm done meeting Amazon and most other super low prices- I charge for my time if I pick something up at Best Buy (I don't sell many TVs because it's too hard to make anything on the lower priced ones and one is close to my house) but if they want me to do the troubleshooting, I'm not going to do it on my time if they didn't buy it from me. It's gotten to the point where people expect far too much without paying for it and I'll be glad when I'm done with this.

I enjoyed this business when I got into it but it has been destroyed.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Warlord
Ratings
2,562 9 4
#28
As much as I loved my A/V sales job, I don't miss it for the exact reasons you just stated.

People would buy from us (amazon wasn't what it is now) and refuse installer service. Then call and want to have us on the phone for an hour telling them how to hook it up. I don't mind the simple stuff, but I'm a sales guy, not a phone tech. I had to gently remind them that they could have had us come do the simple install for them and that I was not able to stay on the phone. I was good enough at talking to people that they usually just bought the install.

One guy (nice guy) in particular asked if he could bring the receiver diagram with him to the store and have me just go over it with him real quick and I said sure.

He brings in the sheet Denon provides with ALL OF THE POSSIBLE ways to connect video to the receiver. He was stumped as to how to connect all of the different types of video to his TV. I promptly let him know to use HDMI and be done with it. He hadn't grasped that the diagram was there to show a multitude of ways to connect, not the required ways to connect. He got red faced embarrassed when he realized what he'd tried to do. He was very happy to have it simplified for him. I didn't mind the 3 minutes it took me to clear that up for him.
This can be stopped by informing people that you don't want to be sued in the event that you tell them how to wire something and they (or someone else) are hurt because it caused a fire. I told someone why I won't put my low voltage cables in the same junction box (or on the same side) as the electric service wiring and he said "Don't worry- I won't do that" and I asked "What if nobody survives the fire?". That had never occurred to him and I think he was disturbed by the thought (as he should be).
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Samurai
Ratings
973 5
#29
This can be stopped by informing people that you don't want to be sued in the event that you tell them how to wire something and they (or someone else) are hurt because it caused a fire. I told someone why I won't put my low voltage cables in the same junction box (or on the same side) as the electric service wiring and he said "Don't worry- I won't do that" and I asked "What if nobody survives the fire?". That had never occurred to him and I think he was disturbed by the thought (as he should be).
That was usually my last resort. Never had to go that far normally. Had to go that route when people tried to get us to just drop the power cord of their TV down the wall so they didn't have to get an outlet moved. Not happening.
 
Montucky

Montucky

Full Audioholic
Ratings
114
#30
...but if they want me to do the troubleshooting, I'm not going to do it on my time if they didn't buy it from me. It's gotten to the point where people expect far too much without paying for it and I'll be glad when I'm done with this.

I enjoyed this business when I got into it but it has been destroyed.
Sigh... So true. People's expectations have gotten WAY out of whack. They want the bargain basement white-van special prices they see from UNauthorized online retailers or compare you to the lowest price 55" they see advertised at Costco (which never advertise WHICH model specifically),and then at the same time want the white glove service that guys like you and me provide.

Being in retail has sure taught me a lot, and I really have enjoyed many aspects of, but people are definitely getting worse about these things. My trials, successes, and failures have sure taught me to reward my local brick and mortars far more, that's for sure. Whether it be appliances, sporting goods, or electronics. When the service is there, it is absolutely 100% worth the small premium you pay over online retailers.

Funny how when people did not give us the business, they would get downright UPSET when I wouldn't want to help them for free. I'd always be happy to send a technician (or even myself) over to help them out, but that wouldn't be free of charge...unless they bought from us in which case I was HAPPY to help them out. I wouldn't care if you bought it from me 3 years ago. I'd also be VERY leniant with warranties if they bought from us. If our guys did the installation, then even more so. No questions asked. I'd run a tech out and just swap out the equipment or make some tweaks if needed. No bill. Bought your TV from Amazon? Yeah, go ask them for help. Enjoy talking to your friendly overseas call center customer service representative, after you wade through the vast phone menu tree that is. ;)
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
2,277 7 3
#31
When I upgraded the fork on my mountain bike a while back, I started by looking at used forks and online retailers for new, etc.

I emailed the owner at my local bike shop and asked him to give me 2 quotes--a quote for the part and a quote for the part + install.

He comes back with a single quote, right at MSRP for the part, but labor was included! I immediately responded, get that fork on order!

He calls me a couple hours later, once he started sourcing the fork, he realized that I needed either a different fork (more $$$),or a different crown race to make that cheaper fork compatible on my bike. The extra part was like $11. Do it!

Anyway, long story, different hobby, but still relevant here. I went through the bike shop exactly b/c I didn't quite have enough knowledge to order it myself and do the work, and make it work perfectly on the very first try. I have no doubt that I would have gotten it going myself eventually, and likely saved $50 vs the bike shop price.

But, that was an extra $50 that was well spent, and an extra $50 that stays in my local community, and an extra $50 that helps to insure that I will have that knowledge base there the next time that I need it!

On a side note--this particular bike didn't even come from his shop--but I do have another bike that came from his shop and he actually cut me a good deal below MSRP when I made that purchase.

Guess what, when friends are looking for bikes, I tell them "let's go see what Frank can do".
 
Montucky

Montucky

Full Audioholic
Ratings
114
#32
On a side note--this particular bike didn't even come from his shop--but I do have another bike that came from his shop and he actually cut me a good deal below MSRP when I made that purchase.

Guess what, when friends are looking for bikes, I tell them "let's go see what Frank can do".
Ah, yes. GREAT point I forgot to mention too. When you establish a customer-shop relationship like that, you're likely to score good deals, often better than you could ever get online. They want the repeat business. I treated my return customers extraordinarily well, and would often hook them up whether it be labor, tossing in some freebies, giving them a heads up on upcoming sales, or giving them really good deals like giving them first dibs on product I needed to clear out.

This is where it can pay to get to know your sales staff or manager well. Plus, it's fun to stop in, shoot the breeze and geek out over new gear! We LOVED it when customers would stop by just to say hello and play with equipment. Theater or speaker demos were always truly a pleasure to do, even if there was zero chance they'd be buying some of the more expensive gear any time soon. We were passionate, and loved sharing that passion with others.
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
2,277 7 3
#33
Ah, yes. GREAT point I forgot to mention too. When you establish a customer-shop relationship like that, you're likely to score good deals, often better than you could ever get online. They want the repeat business. I treated my return customers extraordinarily well, and would often hook them up whether it be labor, tossing in some freebies, giving them a heads up on upcoming sales, or giving them really good deals like giving them first dibs on product I needed to clear out.

This is where it can pay to get to know your sales staff or manager well. Plus, it's fun to stop in, shoot the breeze and geek out over new gear! We LOVED it when customers would stop by just to say hello and play with equipment. Theater or speaker demos were always truly a pleasure to do, even if there was zero chance they'd be buying some of the more expensive gear any time soon. We were passionate, and loved sharing that passion with others.
Yeah, the community building is a big part of why you should shop local (hyper-local even).

A bike good bike shop usually has more opportunity for community involvement than an AV store.

I will also mention, when I talked to him about the sealant that they use for their tubeless tire setup, he also chose to go with a local company's product. Same story--support local business and keep the $ in the local community. It doesn't hurt that the local product is also considered one of the best, but not the cheapest.

And, now we really get to "price vs. value" or "price vs. cost". These terms are NOT interchangeable!
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Samurai
Ratings
973 5
#34
And, now we really get to "price vs. value" or "price vs. cost". These terms are NOT interchangeable!
Most people don't understand that aspect at all. I do find it interesting that big chain book stores (the ones left) aren't doing well, but small mom and pop shops are doing awesome. There's a few close to me that are pretty nice. One's a kids book store that does all kinds of events for the kids...for free. I always buy something just because.
 
Montucky

Montucky

Full Audioholic
Ratings
114
#35
That was usually my last resort. Never had to go that far normally. Had to go that route when people tried to get us to just drop the power cord of their TV down the wall so they didn't have to get an outlet moved. Not happening.
Ooh, that's a bad one. 100% non-negotiable. Funny thing is how my firmness on that subject was sometimes enough to drive them toward a competitor who WAS willing to do that. Then I'd get a call from their property manager hiring us to go re-hang the TV, clean up the wiring, and essentially fix all the shoddy work done by the other outfit who agreed to drop the power cord through the wall. The worst was when I was working on a condo complex where they did like 20 units. They stuffed the DirecTV receivers' power bricks in the wall too!!! I remember putting my hand in the wall and being like what the heck is this? Something's ROASTING in there. I messed with it, messed with, finally grabbed a hold and pulled out the power brick. I was not thrilled to see that. I got hired to re-do them all, and made them get an electrician in there to run some proper outlets. Served them right for being cheap. All in all, our electricians have always treated our customers right on these jobs though. Typically like $50 per drop. Not a big deal and can save them from their freaking house burning down or worse.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Warlord
Ratings
2,562 9 4
#36
When I upgraded the fork on my mountain bike a while back, I started by looking at used forks and online retailers for new, etc.

I emailed the owner at my local bike shop and asked him to give me 2 quotes--a quote for the part and a quote for the part + install.

He comes back with a single quote, right at MSRP for the part, but labor was included! I immediately responded, get that fork on order!

He calls me a couple hours later, once he started sourcing the fork, he realized that I needed either a different fork (more $$$),or a different crown race to make that cheaper fork compatible on my bike. The extra part was like $11. Do it!

Anyway, long story, different hobby, but still relevant here. I went through the bike shop exactly b/c I didn't quite have enough knowledge to order it myself and do the work, and make it work perfectly on the very first try. I have no doubt that I would have gotten it going myself eventually, and likely saved $50 vs the bike shop price.

But, that was an extra $50 that was well spent, and an extra $50 that stays in my local community, and an extra $50 that helps to insure that I will have that knowledge base there the next time that I need it!

On a side note--this particular bike didn't even come from his shop--but I do have another bike that came from his shop and he actually cut me a good deal below MSRP when I made that purchase.

Guess what, when friends are looking for bikes, I tell them "let's go see what Frank can do".
I live close to a Chevy dealer and had opened a wholesale parts account when I was running a car audio shop. I thought I was getting a decent price for the parts I bought, so I went back a few years later for a fuel tank sender when the one on my '92 LeSabre started to leak, after making sure my account was still active. $605, just for the part. I was working an hour from home at a boat dealer and I went in to have them pressure test an oil cooler- just before I left, I saw a 'Delco Parts Distributor' sign on the wall, so I asked for a price. He called back and said "$250, installed". I brought it in the next day and told them that I was running on fumes, just so they didn't have to drop a full tank. I thought the guy was going to cry. He called back a couple of hours later, to apologetically tell me they had to replace a hanger for the tank. I asked and he said it was $18, to which I replied, "That's an outrage!".
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Warlord
Ratings
2,562 9 4
#37
Ah, yes. GREAT point I forgot to mention too. When you establish a customer-shop relationship like that, you're likely to score good deals, often better than you could ever get online. They want the repeat business. I treated my return customers extraordinarily well, and would often hook them up whether it be labor, tossing in some freebies, giving them a heads up on upcoming sales, or giving them really good deals like giving them first dibs on product I needed to clear out.

This is where it can pay to get to know your sales staff or manager well. Plus, it's fun to stop in, shoot the breeze and geek out over new gear! We LOVED it when customers would stop by just to say hello and play with equipment. Theater or speaker demos were always truly a pleasure to do, even if there was zero chance they'd be buying some of the more expensive gear any time soon. We were passionate, and loved sharing that passion with others.
I think I posted before that I started working at a stereo store in '78- it will be 40 years ago, on the 17th and I still see people from the beginning. I had lunch today with someone who started coming in when he was about 16 after he got a job working at the Sears store across the hall and we're good friends. He ended up working at some higher-end stores while in college and after, eventually becoming a sales rep for AV gear including becoming the rep in my territory. Back in the late-90s, I saw him when his band was playing and it had been a while since we had seen each other- another of his friends was there and he was also one of my customers who went on to work in a local high end shop. The first guy was working at a place in town and it wasn't going well, so he said "I should have listened to you". He had come into the store and it may have been when something new and shiny was introduced, said "This must be the best job!", to which I replied, "It makes a better hobby".

I got into this when we still demo'd cartridges. If someone wanted to buy a cassette deck, we would often record something and play it back, switching between the tape and LP- it was easier if it was a 3 head deck, but it worked.

One day, a scraggly bunch of guys with long hair and tour jackets came in- I was looking for something behind the counter and when I stood up, the little guy in front of me asked "Do you have any speakers for a Walkman" in a Scottish brogue. I showed him a few and we talked about the equipment sold by the store- I mentioned that we had the Sony PCM-F1 digital recording processor and he asked to see it. He commented that Peter Gabriel had used the PCM-1 for the Security album- it was Manny, from Nazareth. The others were the rest of the band, as well as Foreigner and they were touring for the Foreigner 4 album with Nazareth opening.

The guy we worked for would often tell us to stop wasting our time when we would chat with mid-late teens who would come in to ask about equipment. They turned into some of the best customers the store ever had, so he stopped doing that. Some were still buying when he closed the place, only a few years ago. We moved from one end of the mall to the other and since we needed all the help we could get, the owner asked some of these kids if they wanted to help- they all had something substantial on layaway, so they were eager to knock off some of the bill. I went to someone's house when some mutual friends came to town and as it turned out, it was only two doors from one of the guys who helped. His wife was there, but he wasn't and while she talked, I heard her mention some of his friends, who I also know. I asked if her husband was who I thought and she was blown away. We talked and she said he was still using the system he had assembled over 30 years before.

I occasionally run into reps from the old days, too- that's always interesting and several of them are still in it, in some capacity.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Warlord
Ratings
2,562 9 4
#38
That was usually my last resort. Never had to go that far normally. Had to go that route when people tried to get us to just drop the power cord of their TV down the wall so they didn't have to get an outlet moved. Not happening.
And the dumb thing- it's legal to install a whip with a power outlet behind the TV and a power inlet below, then connect the inlet to the power strip with a short extension cord because it's not always connected to the rest of the power wiring and if a problem occurs, it's just a matter of pulling the cord from the inlet. The NEC sees it as 'repair' work. Don't even need to be licensed to do it and that saves a lot of time- nobody needs to wait for sparky to show up and a return trip isn't needed.
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
2,277 7 3
#39
Most people don't understand that aspect at all. I do find it interesting that big chain book stores (the ones left) aren't doing well, but small mom and pop shops are doing awesome. There's a few close to me that are pretty nice. One's a kids book store that does all kinds of events for the kids...for free. I always buy something just because.
Well, it is a fairly large chain, but I really like Half Price Books!

Used books for a fraction of the new cost, and they also have used vinyl and CDs (and of course new stuff too).

Of course, every time I take 2 big bags of books to re-sell, I end up with maybe $8 if I'm lucky. At least I trade the space for 2 bags of books for a single CD :rolleyes:
 
TechHDS

TechHDS

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
219 1 12
#40
Back in the mid 80's I walked into a B&M store in Lafayette, LA. Looking to demo a
HK receiver, well I was standing in front of several units found the one I was interested in. Well the salesperson or owner don't know was talking with some other guy about 5 feet 6 feet behind me, I had turned it up some just to get the feel of the unit dude comes up and turns the unit really low didn't say excuse me or anything. So I waited they walked off so I turned it back up some demoing the unit. Dude comes back turns it back down gives me a pair of eyes like I was a second-class citizen. I than told this chump, dude you just lost a sale! I will tell everyone I know to stay away from this store. Needless to say that Audio store is out of business. It is for that reason most B&M stores suck, poor customer service Aholes,:D that look at a potential customer and judge him, her by the cover of looks.
 

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