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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:01 am 
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Location: Winnipeg, MB, CA
Most with significant systems didn't go out and purchase at once, they progressed into them over time. The first systems were not unlike what the big box are offering now.
What has been miising over the past number of years is a progression from the generation that was born in the eighties; and would be moving into a better set up by now. Many from this demographic did not start an audio journey as the video game changed their path, hence the demand is lacking. For many they are just now beginning and as such are starting as we all did; with items that are readily available at BB. Add to this mix the conveniece products for streaming and this generation may never go beyond that.
I'm encouraged by the interest that is now being taken by a younger generation. The move to vinyl and a desire for better sound is there among many, and over time they may breathe new life into the upscale market; but it is unrealistic to expect them to start there.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:06 am 
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IMHO: Brick and mortar audio stores are dying antiques. Do a survey on Canuck, ask the members: how many key components in your kit did you buy via internet? Be honest with yourself, what does a brick and mortar store offer that you really need?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:22 am 
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What does it offer you? It is the simple pleasure of shopping for a good novel or that special vintage wine,there is a personal satisfaction in the ritual of cruising the store and making that selection which can never be duplicated electronically.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:32 am 
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Quote:
Markwatkiss wrote:
What does it offer you? It is the simple pleasure of shopping for a good novel or that special vintage wine,there is a personal satisfaction in the ritual of cruising the store and making that selection which can never be duplicated electronically.


You do realize that book stores and vintage wine stores are also dying.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:07 am 
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jn229 wrote:
IMHO: Brick and mortar audio stores are dying antiques. Do a survey on Canuck, ask the members: how many key components in your kit did you buy via internet? Be honest with yourself, what does a brick and mortar store offer that you really need?


I have to reluctantly agree.....to an extent. I approach this subject with mixed feelings.

My last two brand new "big ticket" ($3K+) audio purchases did not involve local dealers. This is because, at the time, nobody local carried the brands I was interested in. One item was purchased from a well-respected dealer in Edmonton. The other (and most recent) was purchased directly from the manufacturer. I want to support local dealers, but if no one carries the product, what can I do?

Also, based on my experience, A big risk to the B&Ms is once customers gain confidence with making substantial purchases online, chances are they will be willing to do so do more frequently.

I recognize the challenges that B&M dealers face, notably when it comes to supporting low-volume boutique brands (especially with Alberta's current economic state) . Meanwhile the presumably more lucrative (but significantly more price conscious) mid-fi segment is already well-served by the big box/online vendors. Where does that leave the local guys?

I think that to be successful, B&M dealers have to:
- Deliver an outstanding level of customer service, and do everything possible to eliminate the "snob-audiophile" culture. Practice good salesmanship.
- Carry a full line of mid-fi and hi-fi brands, with good availability, and offer pricing that is competitive with the big box/online vendors. Don't give customers a chance/excuse to shop online if it can be avoided.
- Develop an online/social media presence. Convince the market that you are the go-to vendor. Focus on marketing.

Is it feasible to accomplish this?


Last edited by selkirk on Wed Feb 03, 2016 9:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 9:00 am 
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I posted a strong statement to wake our members up. I believe a limited number of brick and mortar stores will survive, but only in heavily populated areas. They will only survive as manufacturer's show room's and service depots. By this I mean the large ticket items that are in store are there on consignment from the manufacturer. By service I mean when the manufacture sells a product on line this dealer is there to set it up. The dealer himself will be on line pitching his in store products. If you live outside of a heavily populated area, then you are on your own.

Audiophiles in numbers, are a small community and can no longer support local audio salons as we 'new' them. A brick and mortar audio store can not even begin to stock/sell or have knowledge in the vast number of audio products available, that today's audiophiles are interested in. The above poster mentioned B&W, name a store that displays B&W's complete line. McIntosh, name a store that displays their whole product line up. The internet does! Audio is not a supply and demand industry, it is only demand. A buyer wants what he wants and there is a manufacturer somewhere out there that builds and sells exactly what this buyer wants.

Some of the gentlemen who own brick and mortar audio stores are truly wonderful gents who I respect, but I fear for their future.


Last edited by jn229 on Wed Feb 03, 2016 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 9:11 am 
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Musicware4u wrote:
bs article
+1


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 9:14 am 
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I would never buy something like speakers, amplifiers etc...online. Ever.
I have bought speaker cable etc....but even when it comes to that, if I can get the same product
from a B/M I am going there.
We have to save the stores somehow.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:18 am 
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Location: Chilliwack, BC, CA
Interesting reading the responses, nice to hear positive sentiment for B&M.
We have been open for almost 3 years in a smaller community outside of Vancouver and I couldn't be happier with the success thus far.

Sure we lose some business to the Amazons and the big box stores but I think diversity is the key.
Our store offers a mix of products and services that you will not find with our direct competitors.

Vintage audio, new components, custom audio, new vinyl, used vinyl, parts and service.
For us, this formula has been key to our growth. Will it continue? I cant be sure, market trends, economic challenges, shrinking audience can all contribute to tough times ahead.

Still I believe that brick and mortar stores must continue to slug it out if we want this hobby to grow in popularity.
After all you cant hear a web page, and seeing a shiny new tube amp in the flesh beats a glossy photo any day.

Any good hobby needs a community to help it thrive, relationships with like minded individuals gives our interests vindication and the local audio shop is the glue that makes it stick.

:wink:

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:37 pm 
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jn229 wrote:
The above poster mentioned B&W, name a store that displays B&W's complete line. McIntosh, name a store that displays their whole product line up.


I used to work for a guy from Thailand and he mentioned that the upscale shopping areas of Bangkok are populated with manufacturer-only stores: you want Mac, you go to a McIntosh store. You want B&W, there's a B&W store right down the block. Krell and Mark Levinson stores are all within walking distance. And so on. I think this is not uncommon in other parts of Asia and perhaps Europe as well.

Obviously it's a different culture over there and not all manufacturers are represented, just the uber-high-end. This is in many ways an ideal situation for these 'factory' stores because they don't experience any in-store competition from other product lines. Some of these stores have both electronics and speakers. B&W, for example, will be displayed with and driven by Classe' sources and amplification because both product lines are part of the same corporation. As such, you'll find Revel and JBL speakers in the Mark Levinson stores too.

I don't believe that kind of retail experience would translate well to NA. It's certainly not economically feasible to have a Krell store in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Obviously these types of stores could only survive in the largest of metropolitan areas. Hopefully that's not what the future holds because it would spell doom for all but the largest of audio manufacturers.

Let's hope this scenario never comes to fruition. Please continue to support the numerous boutique audio manufacturers AND your local brick-and-mortar stores whenever you can.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:31 pm 
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I just went through my equipment here in the house and while some of the Brick and Mortar’s have been found on CAM I have visited them all except Urbane Audio.
23 of the pieces and all of my cables were bought at Brick & Mortars. 3 pieces came from private sales on CAM and 1 ( Energy RC70’s ) from a big box store. Many more pieces have come and gone, most of which were also bought at B&M’s so all I can say is --- Thank you B&M’s for keeping me happily poor and may you all be around for a long time to keep me in this same sad state. :D

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 5:52 pm 
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I just bought Bryston BDP-2 from Whitby Audio one of the few Highend audio shops out this way..
Glad to support them,but to be honest I could not find a used one so I really had no choice.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:11 pm 
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Well this is an interesting topic,

I'm not a dealer but am in another industry that might be affected in the same way. Some of the responses all pooled together I think reflect the current state:

* The cellphone, MP3 player, laptops, surface devices and game consoles have taken over the attention of the ensuing generation to those that were 10 year olds in the 70's. These devices have become ubiquitous and have taken over from the heavy hardware we all seem to enjoy- there is no desire or need as these devices provide all the necessary diversions required. All we wanted was a car when we were 16, a Pioneer radio with Jensen Triax and a home stereo. Kids today don't drive and couldn't afford to. They have all they need in their iphones.

* Music is available universally in a soft format - just put it on your android device- who needs heavy hardware?

*The economy is dreck- there is no made in North America Consumerism---Switch to value added service industries kids?- where do you think all the engineering and software development firms reside- The Middle East, India or SE Asia. I know we deal with these firms overseas that ask for fractions of what we would pay home grown talent here in North America. When I graduated University in the 80's I had line ups with prospective suitors who flew me across Canada for interviews as an undergraduate. It was crazy- ask any new grad today about their job prospects. BtW I've been through 4 recessions since I graduated ---sheesh

* There really is no free market- the strongest survive by virtue of who have the means- I'm a true free market proponent- but the wealth resides in small pockets - Only large markets will support anything close to a dealer network today for the reasons that I state in this response

* The proliferation of new manufacturers and new product in the high end is - don't kid yourself- for the Asian Eastern European market. Not for us. Dealers aren't doing great Manufacturers produce for the New World. Manufacturing and marketing must suit the market at hand and the stratospherically priced equipment is only designed for the New World . If you're in San Francisco or going home with your driver to Connecticut from NYC you can visit a dealer too. These guys fly to Cabo for the weekend in their own planes. Local Dealers in small markets won't survive.

* The internet is the great equalizer- every one wants a good deal or know more than any dealer on price or benefits right?

* Manufacturers see the writing on the wall... many go direct now. If they don't just ask, you might be surprised. Even worse are distributors that try to survive that sell direct. This is a big concern.

* Many dealers are living in a dream world.

Customer Experience is everything, I can't tell you how many times I have been insulted in the last year where I have spent THOUSANDS of dollars never asking for a deal just paying what was asked because I understand the tension of operating a small business and profitability is required to stay around.

When things go wrong I wait months for service on brand new out of the box equipment because it was inconvenient and too costly to order the warranty parts separately because they may be charged brokerage fees on warranty goods... they bulk up orders and get them brokered once every 6-8 weeks to save on money on possible brokerage fees.. morons.

In a separate affair and another dealer I ordered parts for a very expensive tone arm with the idea of purchasing something else from that dealer that is far more expensive- the parts not inexpensive -retail for $750- I want to strike up a relationship and see how they handle things. While I'm there I drop $200 on vinyl. They forget to place the order, they ask what I ordered weeks after the order, they deliver the wrong product and then I wait all over again. It is absolutely incredible. I should just ordered via the internet



* Lastly, I surveyed my 19 year old son and 14 year old daughter - they're not interested . Market research proves it! I have tens and tens and tens of thousands of dollars of equipment that is superior to any Ipod or IPhone or bluetooth... not a lick of interest they could have it for free.



Who will survive? Those that have the products that meet the market needs and deliver an outstanding customer experience that goes beyond just ordering it for you. If the dealer can't demo it I might as well order it over the internet. After all no returns on special orders right dealers?

That experience includes demonstrations, actual service in house and product on hand. Bricks and Mortar is going to be a tough run.

I haven't spent a dime with the likes of someone like Music By Mark Jones but is sounds like he's got it about right. Outstanding products, with a great value proposition in a very low cost operating model in a large affluent market with what seems to be the opportunity to deliver outstanding customer Service.

The other model that might work, if you don't actually alienate those dealers you serve as a distributor, is something like Planet of Sound or even American Sound who not only retail the products they carry but distribute them to others as well..... nice if you can butter your bread on both sides and make it work. I'd love to know how dealers feel about this. It pays the bills. But your partners can't be totally happy.


Good luck to the good B&M dealers- you have my respect -to the others.... the end is near- I'm sorry to say.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:01 pm 
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I saw an ad today for something that I think could serve as a model for future retailing...
I think all purchases will be made directly through the manufacturers website in the not-too-distant future. So how will people get to "try out" the equipment first?
I bicycle year round, and would have bought a "fat bike" 2 years ago were it not for the fact that I'm not sure if I would find it comfortable. They are $2K to $5K in price. Most retailers will let you "test drive" them in the store, which is like test driving it in your dining room during a dinner party.
Woodcock Cycle will rent you a high end fat bike for $50/day.
I can see a store that carries many seldomly-purchased high end goods as a way of test driving before buying. Cameras. Bikes. Tube amps, etc.
It would be up to the manufacturer to convince the rental place to stock a rental unit.
Imagine being able to take home 4 different $2000 DACs for an evening for just $200. (Assuming you had $8000 room on your credit card to secure the rental)

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:57 pm 
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I went to Whitby Audio with my turntable and was concerned about my cartridge and the a few other things.
I believe it was the owner that spent 10 minutes looking at my concerns and in the end, he made a couple of adjustments and
said I didn't need a new cartridge, stylus etc....
Great service.
Can't get that from Amazon.
And, I paid him back by going there for other purchases.
That is the beauty of B/M.


Jhayman wrote:
I just bought Bryston BDP-2 from Whitby Audio one of the few Highend audio shops out this way..
Glad to support them,but to be honest I could not find a used one so I really had no choice.


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