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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 3:51 pm 
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Are the sticks and bricks dealers an endangered species?

http://audiophilereview.com/audiophile- ... alers.html

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 8:14 pm 
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Location: Toronto, ON, CA
Interest in 2 channel stereo sound started going downhill around the late 80's . This is when surround sound all in one receivers started cropping up. They were pro logic 5.1 surround and would become part of your home "entertainment system" along with 4 bookshelf or column speakers and a sub woofer. sure, you could listen to your music in stereo with this system but you had it on surround most of the time watching movies and tv broadcasts. For video watching, surround sound is great but for stereo?

Let's put it this way. A 30 watt Marantz, Harman Kardon, Luxman ,Sansui receiver from the 70's would sound much better than playing back a surround sound receiver in stereo. however, surround won over the stereo listening marketing.

No market, no more product. The 2 channel market was the original audiophile. The person that had a dedicated stereo for listening to music only and all that went with that hobby. It's been gone since the early 90's. Sure, there is still interest in vintage stereo and new 2 channel audio. However, most of us original audio guys that were at least 12 years old in the early 70's are not collectively enough of a market to support a retail store in most areas. So that leaves younger than 40 and teenagers. Teenagers have been able to download free music since high bandwidth. We listened to tape analogue playback of analogue recordings; they do the opposite using digital. The earbud headphones are hardly hi fi quality so try to convince a kid what he's missing.

A friend did that with his Audio Research tube amp, Quad ESL 57 speakers and Project (higher end model) turntable with a very expensive cartridge I have never heard of and don't recall the name of now. This teenager or young adult (not sure of his age) knew how much better that sound was than what he is accustomed to listening to. Now the question is, does this person seek out a decent stereo system now that he's heard the truth as it were? At that age, saving money is huge. In 20 years one the kid has amassed some savings, maybe married with kids, he might consider seeking out a quality stereo system. Everything is high def now even music that was recorded analogue many decades ago.

Brick and mortor stores can barely exist since their margins have to be high just to pay their rent. It's a nieche market that likes high quality for lower $$ so many will look for that Threshold amp they always wanted and buy it used rather than at retail for much more. No warranty and what if it needs work etc.. is also worth considering when spending $2G's on a used amp.


Last edited by Musicware4u on Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:04 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 8:58 pm 
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Agreed. His musings have no point of view, just random speculating.

Quote: "Will a factory service center, interested primarily in selling their own equipment, be willing to recommend a competitor's products because they think it will be better in your system?"
:lol: Good one. What universe is this guy living in? Get real.

One thing is for sure - the site could use a proofreader: "....buying direct may sounds like a good thing..."

And apparently Mr. Wilson is allergic to spellcheck.

"actuallity"......."necessay"....."predominately"

Yeesh.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:10 pm 
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I dropped by a dealer on Thursday. their web site stated that they were having a floor model clearance as they prepare to move to a new, smaller location after 37 years at the current one. they only open for street sales 3 days a week now and during my visit, a half hour before closing, I was told I was the first to come through the door that day.
Friday night I visited a larger shop as I am looking at headphones. In the hour I spent there the store didn't have any other customers come in. This dealer has always stated that they did not do online sales as they want to better service their customer. We talked about the new web site they are building, which will then provide for on line sales.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 1:24 am 
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Only time will tell whether smaller dealers will survive or not we have 2 here in London used to have 3 or 4 at one time. The Big Box stores were the first to impede on their sales. Then obviously on line sales & factory direct sales. I think the fact that we also live in an information age now doesn't help the dealers because people are more informed with products, price points, margins and mark ups.

I personally love going to both dealers in London for different reasons. One dealer has excellent service and loans out their products so that you can make your own evaluations and the other carries a better selection of interconnects cables & tweaks. The one thing they both have in common though is they are not as busy as they used to be. (every time I'm there anyway)

I think the dealers that will survive in the future are the ones who evolve with the way the market has. (on line sales & service, advertising ...etc) There is a dealer here in London who refuses to change and I know for a fact that their sales are effected buy it. The funny thing is I don't think he really cares...lol

He never advertises. Does on line sales but only components that are $2,500 & up. He closes his store during the holiday season from Mid December - January 3rdish so that he doesn't have to discount any of his inventory or deal with "Boxing Day Madness."

Once I overheard a customer ask if they price matched like Best Buy did and his face winced and it looked like he wanted to throw him out....lol

The other store here in London will bend over backwards to make you happy and keep you coming back. They do a lot more home and business installations, they lend out their equipment and they treat everybody equally no matter what your budget is.

That being said I still go to both because though the other store lacks in some ways they still offer different brands and a better selection of certain products.

Back in the day if you wanted High End Hi-Fi you had no choice, you could only get it from these stores. Now it's everywhere it seems. I have audiophile friends that also were regulars in both stores that very rarely go back unless they absolutely have to. Some feel that they were gouged over the years, once they started buying on line and realized what the margins & mark ups were.

Some of them are very passionate about it...lol "I've been going there for 20 years & dumping tons of money into my system and I see my speakers on line for $1,500 less than what I paid for them last year!" I thought they were my friends?! Especially for Cables & Tweaks they feel scorned because of the pricing. So they really don't care if they close their doors or not. But I do.

I still love the personal service, the chit chats about what's new is old and what's old is new, Made in China is always a popular topic...lol I like going in and hearing the newest, amps, TT's, speakers or watching the salesman going through the motions with a demo on the latest tweak. You don't get any of that with on line sales and Factory Direct and besides where will you go on Saturday afternoons? :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 3:07 am 
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I know the OP asked for dealers only to reply, and like everyone else that has already replied I am also not a dealer, but i must admit that my tiny little brain finds all of this somewhat confusing. I am confused as to how big box stores affect the sales of small specialty hi-end shops when they don't carry any of the same product. How does a big box store who carries predominantly mass market entry level brand name electronics affect the sales of a store who exclusively carries small, virtually unknown, hi-end boutique brands? They don't even cater to the same customer base.

I am also having trouble accepting that most audiophiles are now purchasing new, high priced, two channel audio online sight unseen sound unheard. Used equipment sure, but brand new? I just don't know any audiophiles who make significant, and sometimes very significantly priced purchases of brand new product online. Yes I know there must be some who are doing this, but it seems far from the norm, at least to me.

The whole decline of the hi-end market appears to be a contradiction. There are more hi-end audio manufacturers now then there has ever been. with new ones popping up almost daily, offering much more product than ever before. You don't believe me? Just check out the Munich Show thread here on CAM, and yet brick and mortar stores are quickly becoming extinct and total sales of hi-end audio is supposedly shrinking rapidly. Why are all of these new companies sprouting up if the market for their wares is quickly becoming non-existent?

The majority of hi-end audio is still very difficult to obtain online. Just visit the website of any truly hi-end, independent, brick and mortar dealer and see if they even offer the customer the option to buy online. Not many do. Most distributors certainly don't advertise direct sales, and the regular online dealers don't really carny much, if any, truly hi-end product, so what am I missing?

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 3:46 am 
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Good Sound definitely makes a good point. maybe it's this new generation of kids who don't care about the quality of sound these days. they only listen to ipods and mp3's and stream music. (for the most part) Maybe the 30 somethings think that Martin Logan, klipsch, Marantz,Denon...etc that the Big box stores sell is good enough quality and everything beyond that price point is just not worth the big bucks. Who knows? one thing I noticed is that alot of the new generation has definitely taken an interest in vinyl. I see a lot more women in the record stores too. I wonder what the quality of the TT's they're spinning them on is?

You do see alot of new high end companies pop up here and there, but you also see alot of them go too. There are alot of companies that will sell directly to the customers like Magnum Dynalab. They even offer trade ins and sell refurbs online.

There are also alot of really cool high end gear that the HiFi shops will not bring into there stores or wont carry for what ever reason. (Price point? not enough margin? Warranty?...etc) I asked a local store why they didn't carry Krell products and they told me they used to but , it didnt move and Krell offered them no releif when there new models came out forcing them to discount them at a loss just to get new inventory. There are alot of variables to consider I suppose.

I geuss its up to the new generation of music lovers to determine what good quality hifi is and how deep they'll be willing to dig into their pockets. Time will tell I suppose.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2016 7:23 pm 
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We have some very good dealers here in Calgary and they run very successful businesses that carry a wide range of products across all price points.
I highly recommend Absolute Audio and Turn It Up Records to anyone in the Calgary area.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2016 8:27 pm 
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I think that some of the smaller boutique style audio stores are a bit in trouble these days as their prices and mark up are quite high for them to maximize their profit margins, and rarely do they or that they are able to carry the higher end manufacturers complete product lines, thus some of them then become special order status through these boutique style dealers and require them to slap on strict return policies or non returnable status or what not.
Unfortunately the big box stores carry some well known and highly marketed brands like Kef, Energy, Martin Logan and many more lesser known brands, but at entry level or mid level status. Which also gives them high buyer appeal to the larger, mostly unknowledgable masses walking through their extra large sliding automatic doors so you can haul out your awesome stereo package you just got rooked into buying! This is because of their lower "on sale now prices" and the general lack of knowledge by the huge masses passing through their stores, and then you can add in their weekly advertising flyers being sent out weekly across the nation, advertising of all their gimmicky warranty, low payment, long term financing, special packages, online shopping with free shipping sometimes and you have some high success going on their.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2016 9:18 pm 
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I do not know how high end products and stores will fare in the future. The younger people I know have no real interest in it at all. Even the ones that think they do hire a design firm to provide a "high end" integrated system often highly overpriced and lacking in quality. However, with the direction and speed of pricing increases it may be that the industry is trying to maximize profit by catering to the uber elite.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2016 10:32 pm 
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The thing is how many young people do we know with money. The ones that aren't interning for 2 or 3 years to get a job on semi-annual contracts for half theyre worth? Half of these kids are buying a house because mortgage rates are 2.5%.

That part aside, I predict once half of us are hosed by some con artist on the net, bricks and mortar will make a stunning comeback, even if all the stores have to rent in ghettos because they don't sell kitchenware or e-books....

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2016 11:40 pm 
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I believe some of the problem lies in advertising. To get people interested in this hobby you need to look outside of the audio world. Advertise in other magazines cars,GQ etc. Most young people don't know what exists outside of what they see in big box stores. I like to think I am on the younger side of life and most of the people I know have never heard of KRELL, Zu, linn etc. How do you expect young people to part with thousands of dollars on something they have no knowledge of? Unless the manufacturers of products start to advertise to get people to want to visit a store and listen to high end equipment then I can only see the big box stores remaining. The money I believe is there just look how much young people spend on snowmobiles, quads etc.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:34 am 
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indeed the future don t look so bright.the last 15 years have seen a big drop in potential buyer. the economie is a big part of it, last 10 years have been devastating for jobs, many people have not seen a real salary raise, always under the real cost of living.
also price of gears have also raise faster then income.
there is also the fact that many product today are said to become obsolete faster. look at your iPhone, processor, dack
,blurays player that last 3 years , compare to some old cd player that could last 5 time longer
and back then you could name many high end that where considered untouchable, today there is so many company that are here today, gone tomorrow, and you get into a store and look for brand you know and consider, to find new name, unknown,
not sure where it was made, or how it will compare to the brand you are used to.
and more people today are satifyed with very little, to love the sound of a ipod playing thousands of mp 3 is very questionable.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:39 am 
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titch123 wrote:
I believe some of the problem lies in advertising. To get people interested in this hobby you need to look outside of the audio world. Advertise in other magazines cars,GQ etc. Most young people don't know what exists outside of what they see in big box stores. I like to think I am on the younger side of life and most of the people I know have never heard of KRELL, Zu, linn etc. How do you expect young people to part with thousands of dollars on something they have no knowledge of? Unless the manufacturers of products start to advertise to get people to want to visit a store and listen to high end equipment then I can only see the big box stores remaining. The money I believe is there just look how much young people spend on snowmobiles, quads etc.

I agree and would add this: if you've never heard the difference a good hifi set up makes to your music, how can you know you need one. I have many collegues that are into music and listen on cheap sound systems. One called me an audio snob just last week. Which I probably am anyways.. Lol. But I know this person listen to music out of a iphone connected with Apple earbuds. And is very happy.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:20 am 
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For me, brick and mortar stores will never die.
I'm patiently waiting for my retirement from my job with the City before opening one up again.
:D

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